Skin Care

By Allison O'Rourke

I love facials just as much as the next beauty junkie. Who wouldn’t love being pampered with massaging cleansers and exfoliators, all the while tucked cozily into a heated treatment bed? This time around, I was headed out for an oxygen facial at Lather Spa.

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Oxygen facials have become a hot new trend in the beauty world. With publicity from celebs like Madonna and J.Lo, women everywhere are flocking to the nearest spa to experience a blast of pure, unadulterated O2. As humans, we need oxygen to survive; the belief that oxygen has powerful skin nourishing elements has led to the oxygen facial frenzy.

According to esthetician Sylwia Gorzkowska at Lather Spa, treating the skin with oxygen not only soothes dry skin, but it also rehydrates and disinfects even the most sensitive skin. Oxygen facials are also used to treat burns and redness in the skin. Removing impurities and pollutants left on the skin from the outside environment, oxygen has healing qualities that acts as a detox for the skin in a safe and gentle way while rejuvenating your complexion.

One question that I needed answered was the difference between oxidation of the skin (which is said to be one of the top causes for premature aging of the skin) and the oxygen elements of the facials that women go crazy for.

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Lather Spa was quite charming with its relaxed modern feel and “living wall” of exotic plants in the lounge area. Smooth wood floors absorbed the gentle steps of spa clients, who were outfitted with plush white terry robes and brightly colored Croc clogs. The first floor holds manicure and pedicure stations complete with flat screen televisions, while the lounge resides on the second floor and the treatment rooms can be found on the third level.

I settled in at Lather Spa for my very own Luzern Signature O2 Experience Facial, I was intrigued by all of the hype and wondered what pure oxygen might feel like on my skin and more importantly what results, if any, I might see afterwards.

As Sylwia examined my face, she noted that my skin was extremely dehydrated around my hairline, nose and eyes, and my complexion was red and slightly irritated. She advised that she would be using products from Luzern Laboratories, the Swiss skin care company which originally used their line containing Bio-Swiss plant extracts and oxygen to treat burn victims.

First, she applied a purifying oxygen cleanser to remove debris and cosmetic residue, which immediately felt cool and extremely soothing as it was massaged into my skin. The next step included a fermented pumpkin exfoliator, which was applied to my face. Then Sylwia activated my warm steam. The texture was surprisingly smooth and not grainy, which served as a calming agent.

We then moved on to the oxygen detox fluid which was applied to my face and massaged gently into my skin. The warm towel compress that followed each step felt nourishing and allowed the active ingredients to penetrate deep. After a soothing compress of isotonic fluid and a collagen repair and firming mask, it was finally time for the Pure Blue O2 oxygen concentrator. Sylwia turned on a small machine that applied a mist of liquid oxygen, followed by dry bursts of oxygen. Concentrating on the irritated or broken out areas of my skin, Sylwia moved the wand across my skin, which felt extremely cool and refreshing.

She explained that oxidation of the skin is a process in which exposure to environmental assaults like sunlight, UV rays, and toxins cause rapid production of oxidants or free radicals in our bodies. Excessive amounts of these can actually damage tissues and cause wrinkles and advanced aging of the skin. “By treating the skin with pure oxygen, you are restoring the nourishing elements that are not available in our environment as we know it,” she said. “In the sterilized and controlled environment of the spa, we are able to provide the pure oxygen benefits to slow signs of aging and create healthier, more radiant skin.”

So, the mystery has been solved. The oxygen that we are exposed to in the environment is constantly contaminated by free radicals, UV rays, and other pollutants, which essentially makes it toxic for our skin. What oxygen facials do is they take oxygen in its purest state and apply it to the skin, which can have only beneficial effects as it is combined with other vitamins and minerals.

The last step during the facial was the application of Luzern’s Force De Vie Pure Oxygen Crème, which is a high potency oxygen serum rich in essential nutrients and works well on post-treatment skin for maximum therapeutic and anti-aging effectiveness. Sylwia recommends an oxygen facial once a month to keep normal to dry skin in check. Perfect for teenagers, facial beginners, and pregnant women, the oxygen facial is gentle enough that it is suitable for all skin types.

*Post treatment update: Two days after my oxygen facial, my skin had not broken out as it usually did after facial treatments. My skin felt smoother and I was able to apply foundation with ease. I’ll be setting up my next appointment for some pure O2 very soon.

Fore more information on oxygen facials and other spa treatments please visit or contact Lather Spa, located at 127 E. 57 Street, New York, NY 10022 (212)-644-4449.

Originally published November 2006
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