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Air, the new skin secret

Europeans have used facials featuring a blast of oxygen and vitamins for years. Now the method is catching on here.

By JANE BOKUN
© St. Petersburg Times
published July 26, 2002


TOWN 'N COUNTRY -- Laura Linder couldn't believe the changes in her skin after her first oxygen facial.

"I didn't have to wear makeup for three days," said Linder, 29, who owns The Nail Company of Tampa on Sheldon Road.

Linder and others have made oxygen facials a regular part of their skin care routine. They say the process rejuvenates and refreshes their complexions, using medical-grade oxygen and a water-soluble mix of vitamins.

"My skin felt brand new after I tried it, and the exfoliating technique was great," said Linder, who lives in West Park Village.

Although it's been around for years in Europe and in larger cities, the method is just catching on in the Tampa area.

Renate Rowland of Town 'N Country has patented a process and is selling it to area salons through her company, OxiCare. Rowland, who lives in Parker's Landing, said she had been doing oxygen facials since the late 1980s.

"The treatment brings incredible nourishment to the skin," said Rowland, who administers oxygen facials at salons in Town 'N Country and South Tampa.

It's a facial with a twist.

The client reclines on a table for a face massage, skin exfoliation and finally, a blast of medical-grade oxygen from a tube resembling a blow torch. The air blast combines vitamins with oxygen in an alchemy that supporters say creates a nourishing, moisture-rich mixture for the skin.

"Oxygen is champagne for the skin," said Gerdta B. Foust, the woman who pioneered the technique in Europe and trained Rowland. "It makes skin sparkle."

Foust developed a unique hand-blown glass wand to administer her system.

It is commonplace in Europe for oxygen to be inhaled in "oxygen bars" and incorporated into skin care products. But for the past decade, oxygen also has been applied directly to the skin via this patented process.

How does it work? Normal air contains only about 21 percent oxygen; the Oxiana system delivers about 95 percent oxygen to the face via a glass wand, which gently massages vitamins A, C, D and E into the skin, Rowland said.

Rowland said the effects are immediate and last at least 10 days. Her clients -- women and men -- obviously agree, shelling out $55 to $85 per facial.

Matt Wiencek, 26, a personal trainer for Xtreme Fitness on Howard Avenue, said he had been getting weekly oxygen facials for the past two months, and his skin looks better than ever.

"I've always had acne, and now the problems have cleared up," Wiencek said.

But not everyone believes in the process.

"I know oxygen therapy works to heal severe burns, but I don't think it does much for the skin," said Janet Offley, an aesthetician with Advanced Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery Centers of Tampa.

Nonetheless, the Austrian-born Rowland is slowly building a following.

"We have been copied," Rowland said, "but our system is unique and is being used successfully in 12 countries in Europe."

In addition to her clients at Three's Company salon off Waters Avenue, Rowland has customers at Salon Le Monde in South Tampa, including its owner, Richard Zale.

"We're getting so many customers in just by word of mouth," Zale said.

- For more information about oxygen facials, go online at www.OxiCare.com.

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