Sometimes I really like characters and places that are far more than what you would gather from initial impressions: Shrek, purse organizers (they’re life-saving!), and this really great unassuming Cambodican place near my boyfriend’s place. Oxygen Botanicals Oxygen Super Hydrating Cream ($61.70, Skin Care by Alana.com) doesn’t admittedly look like much in way of packaging, but this little jar is filled with proven-effective ingredients like antioxidant vitamin E and hydrating hyaluronic acid, plus bonus ingredients, like orchid oil.
Unlike most products that contain oxygen, which often contain hydrogen peroxide and other oxides that can be detrimental to the skin, Oxygen Botanicals Oxygen Super Hydrating Cream merely infuses, or treats, each individual ingredient with oxygen before adding it to the jar. On the one hand, this probably doesn’t do that much, but on the other hand, this product contains so many good hydrators, I don’t care. It goes on the skin thick, but dries quickly and evenly. Best for normal to dry skin types. For more, read on:
Unlike most of the others, orchid oil may do more than provide hydration. According to at least one study, orchid oil may help to boost UVB protection significantly when used in conjunction with a sunscreen (H&PC, 2012). The reasons for this are likely to be the constituents of the orchid itself, which include vitamin C. Of course, are you likely to get more from a concentrated vitamin C serum? Of course. But it doesn’t hurt that this is a benefit of using orchid oil or extract on the skin.
Orchid oil also appears to be (mostly) safe for the skin. Those with particularly sensitive skin may find that they have an allergic reaction (Archives of Dermatology, 1980). But overall, the ingredient is safe and effective.
Vitamin E is naturally found within the skin — in fact, every time you sweat, it is naturally produced in your sebum (Packer and Valacchi). Interestingly enough, the greatest amounts of vitamin E are found deep within your skin: Vitamin E shows a characteristic gradient in the skin, with lower levels being found towards the uppermost stratum corneum layers.
What does get to the top of your skin does a great job: vitamin E hydrates and protects the skin from environmental ozone, UV light, and other hazards (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology). It also protects from collagen-degrading matrix metalloproteinases (Free Radical Biology and Medicine, 2002).
You can actually tell how much damage your skin has been subjected to by measuring its vitamin E levels! In a study by J.J. Thiele, depleted levels of vitamin E serve as a “very early and sensitive biomarker of environmentally-induced oxidation.”
Thankfully, slapping vitamin E on your face is every bit as good as what is naturally produced by your skin. According to the last mentioned study, “Topical and/or systemic application of antioxidants could support physiologic mechanisms to maintain or restore a healthy skin barrier and to modulate desquamatory skin disorders.”
Vitamin E fares well in the raging antioxidant market
In fact, vitamin E has an environmental protection factor (EPF) of 80, which is relatively high compared to other commonly used antioxidants in skin care formulations. EPF was established for measuring the overall oxidative stress protection capacity of commonly used antioxidants in a 2006 study by McDaniel et. al. In this study, the researchers found that (on a scale from 1 to 100) idebenone had an EPF of 95; vitamin E (tocopherol), 80; kinetin, 68; ubiquinone, 55; vitamin C (ascorbic acid) 52; and lipoic acid, 41. However, coffee berry, which has been established to have more antioxidant activity than idebenone, was not included in the study.
If there was a Regina George of skin care ingredients, hyaluronic acid would be it, except it’s not mean or elitist, just very popular. This natural moisturizing factor (NMF) is a humectant moisturizer (meaning it pulls moisture from the atmosphere). Hyaluronic acid can actually bond with 10,000 times its weight in water (10 Minutes, 10 Years, Baumann)!
One of the reasons that natural moisturizing factors are important is that they allow the skin to operate at an optimal level, meaning that it can provide the best protection against environmental assaults (Murad). And one of the things that makes it great is that hyaluronic acid does this well in both high and low humidity environments (In Cosmetics).
Hyaluronic acid has also been shown to help speed up wound healing from oxygen free-radical damage in mouse skin (International Journal of Tissue Reactions). Researchers were not, however, certain if hyaluronic worked as a free-radical scavenger.
I really like Oxygen Botanicals Oxygen Super Hydrating Cream for use nightly. It can be used nightly after a retinoid or AHA treatment, and during the day after an antioxidant serum and before a sunscreen. Orchid oil is one of the few “hip” ingredients I really love! With UVB protection, hydrating ability, and a pretty high safety/non-irritating potential, it is a solid “natural” ingredient I support.