Industrial gases are now a vital ingredient in beauty regimes of the twenty-first century.
Gone are the days when growing old gracefully was in any way ‘cool’; in these celebrity-obsessed times it’s all about staying younger for longer, and there’s great demand for new technologies to stem the inevitable.
Industrial gases are being used more and more in the beauty industry; oxygen, carbon dioxide, and liquid nitrogen all have valuable properties in terms of anti-ageing and revitalisation.
A new treatment using carbon dioxide is said to be clinically proven to reduce cellulite and stretch marks, as well as dark circles and bags under the eyes.
Carbon dioxide rejuvenation, or Carboxy Therapy as it is commonly referred to, is a process by which injections of CO2 are placed just under the surface of the skin. The body interprets this introduction of CO2 as an oxygen deficit, and promptly increases the flow of blood, sending oxygen and nutrients to the affected area.
Ageing causes capillaries in the body to become inactive, which results in decreased circulation, depriving cells of oxygen and causing them to have problems functioning properly. When cells don’t function properly, it can show in the appearance of the skin - things like stretch marks and cellulite can appear.
When the CO2 is injected, the oxygen and nutrients which are sent to the affected area revitalise the problem cells, making them spring into action, and hopefully making the skin spring back into shape.
Carbon dioxide is also used in lasers for use on skin.
For many years the CO2 laser has been used to treat skin conditions and complaints, like scars or warts. Now however, they are becoming increasingly popular in the treatment of more cosmetic issues, like wrinkles and sun damage.
The new generation of CO2 lasers take off thin layers of skin by directing light beams at the affected area.
The results have the same effect as less extreme treatments like Retin-A, vitamin lotions and chemical peels.
Since the early 1980s CO2 lasers have also been used to remove unwanted tattoos. Bursts of laser lights break up the pigment inks below the surface of the skin, the body’s white cells then flush them out of the body.
The CO2 laser removal process is however problematic – the procedure often causes the tattoo to fade, rather than disappear completely, and leaves scarring. Therefore, in recent years the CO2 laser has been phased out in favour of the Q-switched model, better known in the gases industry as the Nd:YAG laser, which is faster and more efficient at breaking down the pigments of ink.
In addition to tattoo removal, in the beauty industry the Nd:YAG laser is frequently used to remove unwanted hair. It must be used in conjunction with a carbon lotion, which is spread onto the skin first to start penetration of hair follicles, a beam of light emitted by the laser is then directed at the surface of the skin, and the carbon lotion helps it to be absorbed through the top skin layers, where it reaches and promptly eliminates hair follicles.
Nd: YAG lasers are not the only laser to be used for the removal of hair, there are more efficient alternatives, like the semiconductor diode laser, Alexandrite laser, Ruby laser and Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) system, which is powered using a xenon flash lamp.
Another gas effective for treating signs of ageing is oxygen. Oxygen facials are big business in the world of celeb. As we age, the oxygen levels in our skin decrease, resulting in a loss of elasticity, which causes lines and wrinkles to appear.
An oxygen facial is said to replace the lost oxygen and send vitamins, minerals and collagen into the skin, therefore visibly improve lines and wrinkles.
A protein solution is put into the nozzle of a vessel containing oxygen, that oxygen is then blasted at the patients face, sending out the proteins as well as the gas.
As well as undergoing treatments to stem the signs of ageing, those in need of a boost of energy and revitalisation are indulging in new technologies designed to do just that.
Kriotherapy has become hugely popular, being hailed as an effective treatment for all kinds of ailments, including sleep problems, tiredness, depression, and physical injuries, as well as the more cosmetic issues, like cellulite.
The body is taken down to temperatures as low as -160˚C (although 135˚C seems to be a popular stopping point) in a specialised chamber, cooled using liquid nitrogen.
Emergency signals sent to the brain prompt blood to be withdrawn from the body’s core in order to maintain temperature. The individual is only subjected to the intense cold for a short period, and once removed from the environment, their blood is released from the body’s core and pumps vigorously around the body; it is this vigorous circulation which is thought to be beneficial in treating a range of symptoms.
The treatment was originally launched in Japan in 1978, and has long been a popular treatment in Eastern Europe.
Another treatment popular in Eastern Europe at present is the Dry Carbon Dioxide Bath. It is said to target the central nervous system and cardiovascular system, improving blood circulation, lowering blood pressure and promoting mental relaxation.
The client is placed in a sack filled with carbon dioxide, which encases them up to their neck, leaving the head free.
The carbon dioxide enters the body through the skin, slowing the heart, respiratory rates and pulse rates, and changing the individual’s blood pressure levels.
According to those offering the treatment, the bath offers a multitude of benefits, including skin rejuvenation and anti-aging, weight reduction and cellulite. In terms of medical benefits, it is even claimed that the treatment can aid in recovery from heart attack, eliminate headaches and migraines, and help circulation disturbances of the brain.
The dawn of the new millennium brought with it an obsession with celebrity and the quest for perfection.
Celebrities are continually scrutinised by the media, with every dimple earning a place in a glossy magazine the day after it is captured on camera.
This propaganda is inevitably pushing people to make steps towards delaying the ageing process, and quickly rectify any imperfection which may arise, leading to a lucrative business for the beauty industry.
From a gases point of view, more body conscious individuals means more carboxy, more lasers, more kriotherapy and so on, which means more orders for gas; it can only be positive for our industry.