Did you ever wonder where celebrities get that glowing, red-carpet-worthy complexion?

The answer lies in oxygen facials, Hollywood's not-so-well-kept secret that has Madonna and other celebs raving about an instant age-defying look.

In response to the O2 fad, spas everywhere are offering everything from oxygen and vitamin "cocktails" sprayed onto the face to pressurized oxygen pushed below the skin's surface.

Quick Pickup

Dr. Brad Katchen, founder of Manhattan-based SkinCareLab, is a board-certified dermatologist who practiced at Beth Israel Medical Center before opening his downtown office in 2001.

His loyal clientele includes actresses who travel frequently between the East and West Coasts. These jet-setters pop by for an oxygen treatment to get a quick complexion boost.

Katchen began offering the treatment at his spa because he believes it gives tired skin a temporary pickup.

The treatment consists of an infusion of two different serums, he explains.

The first serum consists of atoxelene, which is rich in peptides and antioxidants and stimulates collagen in the skin. The second serum contains hyaluronic acid, one of the best-known hydrators.

Pressurized oxygen from a wandlike applicator pushes the serums below the surface of the skin.

The effects of hydration are immediately apparent, says Katchen. "You definitely look sort of plumped, and it gives you a lifted boost."

Recently, I visited Katchen's SkinCareLab to see if his treatment lived up to the hype.

Once in the chair, my apprehensions about the sterile-looking machine and metal applicator soon dissolved into thin air. I relaxed into cooling, sometimes ticklish sensations as Katchen worked his magic on my skin.

The effects, as Katchen promised, were immediate. My complexion radiated moisture, my skin felt taut and lifted, and under-eye circles from a night of minimal sleep were gone. I regretted only not having made plans that evening to show off my fabulous look.

Katchen recommends the treatments for a hydrating lift after jet lag or winter dehydration or before a photo shoot or red-carpet appearance. "It's a quick pick-me-up," he says.

He has seen an increase in customers who want immediate results, but emphasizes that the treatment doesn't last long.

Katchen's treatment takes about an hour and costs $500.

L.A. Luxe

A-listers flock to Rashel Pouri's ultraposh Medi-Spa in Encino and Calabasas, Calif., to get the Ravi Oxygen Facial. Pouri's clientele includes Jennifer Lopez, and her spa has been featured in The Black Book of Hollywood Beauty Secrets.

The treatment, similar to SkinCareLab's method, plumps up fine lines and lips and softens wrinkles while hydrating the skin; technicians use 95% pure medical-grade oxygen with hyperbaric pressure and hydroluronic acid.

While Medi-Spa also offers botox, laser treatments and plastic surgery, Pouri promotes the natural way first and is adamant about prevention. "Don't wait before you're 50 or 60 to start using sunscreen," she cautions.

Her oxygen treatment differs from others, she explains, because she cleans the skin thoroughly and applies a fruit mask before the oxygen is administered.

To view Annika Mengisen's video take of today's Good Life segment, click here.

The oxygen treatment gives customers a natural lift for a couple of months, says Pouri, but if at 50 you haven't taken care of your skin, "I can't do a miracle," she points out.

This treatment last about 40 minutes and costs $200.

The O2 Factor

Nutritionist Marius Morariu, partner and co-creator of Tracie Martyn salon on Fifth Avenue in New York City, believes oxygen is only one piece of the puzzle of good skin care.

The salon offers an oxygen mist as part of its trademarked resculptingfacial, a treatment designed to lift, firm and contour the face.

The oxygen is a vehicle to infuse a solution containing regenerative peptides into the skin via a fine mist, Morariu explains, which helps to oxygenate the skin.

"The theory behind oxygen in skin care came partly from the fact thatthere is a lack of oxygen in inner-city environments, and just like everyother cell in the body, skin cells require the vital O2 molecule for tissuerespiration," says Morariu, who describes the mist as pleasantly cool and soothing, leaving the complexion with a radiant glow.

Tracie Martyn has offered oxygen treatments for more than five years and has received tremendous positive feedback from clients, Morariu says.

"We are known as the specialists for preparing clients for an event," says Morariu, who works with Kate Winslet, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper and many other celebrity clients to "give them that extra confidence before their photo shoots, concerts, TV appearances, movie premieres or award shows."

"The trend of looking the best you can with spa treatments and new skin-care technologies is definitely on the rise," says Morariu. "The choice of these treatments also tends to be towards noninvasive methods."

The resculpting facial, of which oxygen is one component, lasts an hour and starts at $300.

Proceed With Caution

Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and teacher at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York, isn't as fanatic about the oxygen craze.

According to Jaliman, the most, and perhaps only, effective oxygen treatment is provided by hyperbaric oxygen chambers -- sealed rooms that surround the patient in pressurized oxygen.

Appealing Treatment
Photo: Medi-Spa

Jaliman recommends taking vitamins that enhance the skin. For younger-looking skin, she recommends retinol products or a more-involved genesis laser treatment, which stimulates the upper layers of collagen. To enhance circulation, she recommends a facial massage.

At her office, she offers anti-aging treatments, antioxidant peels, botox and more. Jaliman promotes her treatments as scientifically sound and medically proven. She frequents salons herself, but cautions: "You have to know what you're going for."

Be it O2 or vitamin supplements, the path to that coveted, picture-perfect complexion is up to the individual.

If you can afford it, trying an oxygen treatment can't hurt -- and don't be surprised if it leaves you pleasantly refreshed.



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