Many cosmetic products contain antioxidants, ingredients that reduce the negative effect of oxygen or oxidative substances on skin. At the same time, the cosmetics industry also sells products that contain hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) or other oxygen-releasing ingredients, which supposedly deliver an oxygen molecule when they come in contact with skin, although that generates free-radical damage (Source: Human and Experimental Toxicology
, February 2002, pages 61–62). Why the concern about supplying oxygen to the skin? Oxygen depletion is one of the things that happen to older skin, regardless of whether it’s been affected by sun damage or any other health-related factor. Why or how that happens is completely unknown, though it is thought to have something to do with blood flow and a reduction in lung capacity as we age. It is also believed that, with age, the issue isn’t so much the amount of oxygen but rather a change in the blood’s ability to use the oxygen it has.
However, when wound healing is a problem, regenerating the tissue often demands, in addition to other factors, increased topical oxygen, because wound repair can be facilitated by oxygen therapy. Yet this method of treating wounds lacks research showing it to be effective or to be the best option for skin (Source: Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, May 2002, pages 239–249).
Oxidative stress is an unavoidable consequence of life in an oxygen-rich atmosphere. The “Oxygen Paradox” is that oxygen is dangerous to the very life forms for which it has become an essential component of energy production. The first defense against oxygen toxicity is the sharp reduction in the amount of oxygen present in cells, from the level present in air of 20% to a tissue concentration of only 3% to 4% oxygen. These relatively low tissue levels of oxygen mean that most oxidative damage never occurs. Cells, tissues, organs, and organisms have multiple layers of antioxidant defenses, plus damage replacement and repair systems to cope with the stress and damage that oxygen engenders (Source: Journal of the International Union of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, October–November 2000, pages 279–289).