But Philosophy isn't the only offender. Benefit's 'Hello Flawless!' Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation (whose name coincidentally sounds exactly like what would be written on the back of a Benefit counterfeit by someone who isn't fluent in English) supposedly "helps boost cellular respiration for a 'plumping up' effect".
Among more obscure brands, this claim is even more prevalent. Robanda Oxygen Boost Night Therapy, Bliss Triple Oxygen+C Energizing Cream, Dr. Brandt "detoxygen experience" (which supposedly is "formulated with oxygen spheres"... oxygen SPHERES? WHAT? Oxygen is a linear molecule! What is going on with all this "sphere" nonsense?), Thalgo 'Oxygen SOS' serum, AINHOA Oxygen Cream, and countless others all suggest that their product has some sort of beneficial effect on your skin via cellular respiration.
1. These products have some sort of oxygen composition that is different from that of comparable products that don't make these claims.
2. Oxygen in skincare somehow boosts cellular respiration.
3. Boosting cellular respiration provides some sort of benefit to your skin.
So, let's start at the beginning.
Claim #1: These products have some sort of oxygen composition that is different from that of comparable products that don't make these claims.
High school chemistry reminder: what is oxygen, anyways? Oxygen is the chemical element with the atomic number 8. That means that it has eight protons in its nucleus. Oxygen is very abundant. It is the third most abundant element (behind hydrogen and helium). Because the human body is comprised mostly of water, oxygen makes up about two thirds of the mass of a human body.
That doesn't mean that there is no O2 in a cosmetic product. Oxygen can dissolve in water, for example. However, the oxygen composition of water is much, much lower than that of air. Air contains about 21% oxygen. Water, on the other hand, contains only about 1% oxygen. We can increase the composition of oxygen in our water by making it colder or by splashing it around. Unfortunately, neither of those things are under the control of a cosmetics company. I can think of no method that would increase the composition of O2 that would feasibly survive mass production and distribution. Furthermore, no matter what you do, air is going to have more O2 than whatever you are spreading on your forehead... and your face is surrounded by air all the damn time.
Even ingredients that dissolve high amounts of oxygen, such as perfluorodecalin, dissolve carbon dioxide more readily than they dissolve oxygen. Although they can hypothetically be saturated in oxygen, in practice, they are saturated in carbon dioxide unless they are constantly being recycled to pump in new oxygen. Furthermore, even if they were to be saturated with oxygen (which they are not), the percent oxygen is no better than the air around you, meaning it doesn't give your face anything that it doesn't already have every minute of the day.
|This baby chick and I are surrounded by Oxygen. WE WILL BE IMMORTAL.|
Claim #2: Oxygen in skincare somehow boosts cellular respiration.
To respond to this claim, we're going to quickly remind ourselves what cellular respiration is and how it works. Although this process is relatively complex, I am going to break it down as simply as possible. There are many online resources available if you want more detailed information on this series of reactions.
|The mitochondria is the location of cellular respiration.|
There are four main steps in cellular respiration:
- Glycolysis (literally "sugar splitting"): A glucose molecule is broken down into two pyruvate molecules. In other words, a six-carbon sugar is broken down into two three-carbon sugars. This releases two ATP.
- Oxidative decarboxylation of pyruvate: This is a transition reaction. The pyruvate molecules are oxidized to acetyl-CoA and CO2. It doesn't do anything particularly handy in its own right, but it is necessary to link glycolysis to the citric acid cycle.
- The Citric Acid Cycle (you may have learned it as the Krebs Cycle): In the presence of oxygen gas (O2, NOT oxygen the atom!), all of the hydrogens are stripped off of acetyl-CoA, leaving you with CO2 and H2O. This process produces some ATP, some NADH and some FADH2. NADH and FADH2 are capable of carrying high energy electrons.
- Oxidative phosphorylation: Through a series of reactions, these high energy electrons are passed on to O2 along the electron transport chain. This process creates 32 ATPs for every glucose molecule.
As you can see from even the briefest run-through of the steps of cellular respiration, oxygen the atom isn't going to a do a fucking thing to increase cellular respiration.
Claim #3: Boosting cellular respiration provides some sort of benefit to your skin.
This is where things get really weird and confusing. I have no idea where this idea came from. At least when people make bullshit claims about how they're going to increase your collagen production or something you kind of know why you might want your collagen production to be increased, even if that product isn't going to do shit.
I have no idea why you would want to boost cellular respiration.
I can't even find a claim about it.
[The only thing I can find is by "Prof. Dov Ingman", who states that he has a product that he has a product that "Enhanc[es]... cellular respiration (gases exchange) due to restoration of gaseous partial pressure in and out of capillary." WHAT. WHAT. WHAT. CELLULAR RESPIRATION AND GAS EXCHANGE ARE NOT THE SAME THING. (Gas exchange is the process by which oxygen is delivered to the bloodstream from the lungs and CO2 is delivered from the bloodstream to the lungs.) And how would your face mask have anything to do with what's going on in your capillaries? But I am sure you are totally a "prof"... because why would a website lie to me?]
What is it that "boosting cellular respiration" supposed to do? Why would it have a "plumping up" effect? The internet does not seem to know.
Y'all, I am super happy with my current rate of cellular respiration. And even if I wasn't, this product wouldn't help me. If you want to ensure your skin is getting the proper levels of oxygen, save your $34 and skip the Philosophy moisturizer. All you have to do is take the advice that's on the label... and take a deep breath.