Ava asks: I was hoping that you could settle something for us, being scientifically-inclined and all. I recently participated in a heated discussion about hydrogen peroxide being converted into bioavailable oxygen when in a cream, as claimed by Karin Herzog skincare. Not only does this seem impossible to me (and in fact very harmful in the long run to the skin barrier), but I tracked down all the research that supposedly upholds these claims and it is completely, utterly bogus.
Here’s my question: Is there a way to deliver oxygen to the skin in the form of a cream? Is it beneficial? Could hydrogen peroxide break down in order to deliver oxygen to the cells of the skin, as Karin Herzog claims?
The Left Brain responds:
I suggest you read the thread that Ava provided (see reference below) because it contains an excellent explanation from Paula Begoun, the Cosmetic Cop, on why oxygen is a bogus ingredient in cosmetics. Meanwhile, here’s my take on the subject:
A breath of fresh air
It’s true that oxygen is essential for healthy skin. But that’s only because you’d be DEAD without oxygen. Let me explain how that works: When you inhale oxygen it binds to hemoglobin in your red cells and is transported to various tissues throughout your body. From there it’s taken up into the cells, specifically into the mitochondria. These are tiny compartments that are equipped with special enzymes that bind to the oxygen to create energy for the cells. So oxygen that you breathe, that’s properly bound in your cells is important.
On the other hand, free oxygen is BAD for your skin because it can create free radicals that damage your cells. So despite the fact that Karin Herzog tells you her eye cream contains “0.5% oxygen that moisturizes, illuminates, tones, hydrates and firms the gentle eye area” your skin does NOT want free oxygen.
I can think of one case where there is a potential benefit to applying oxygen you skin. That’s using hydrogen peroxide as an antiseptic. The peroxide breaks and release oxygen that can have a mild germicidal effect. But that oxygen doesn’t penetrate into your skin!
The Beauty Brains bottom line
Don’t hold your breath waiting for oxygen skin care products to really work.
Paula’s references on oxygen and skin can be found in this thread.