Aging is a complex and sometimes seemingly mystifying process. If you’ve started to notice a few fine lines, dark spots or dull patches, you may have wondered how these things happen. The simple answer is free radical damage.
Free radical damage is something that happens to all of us. It’s a completely natural occurrence but can be very frustrating when it shows up on the skin. So what exactly is free radical damage and what can you do about it? Read on for our answers to your common questions.
Aging 101: What are Free Radicals?
Essentially, free radicals are unstable, oxygen-containing molecules. A free radical is a molecule that is missing an electron and as a result will aggressively steal electrons from other molecules.
Free radicals are also super oxidizers with the ability to cause oxidative stress. This impairs any cells that have had an electron stolen from them and can spark a chain reaction with far-reaching consequences. According to research, a single free radical has the potential to create more free radicals and oxidize millions of other compounds.
What do Free Radicals Have to do With Skincare?
Since free radicals have a tendency to increase inflammation, they can be especially damaging to the skin - contributing to wrinkles and sagging skin. They can damage the cell membrane and disrupt healthy cellular metabolism. Free radicals have also been linked to impairing DNA and RNA and contributing to the hardening of collagen and elastin in the skin.
This matters because it can lead to host of skin issues including premature aging, increased sensitivity, irritation, age spots, dullness and dryness. If all of this sounds scary, try not to stress too much. You do however have a secret weapon in the fight against free radicals: antioxidants.
How to Fight Free Radicals
Free radicals are formed by the environment, as well as by the body’s natural processes. Some examples of factors that can create free radicals are diet, stress, smoking, alcohol, exercise, certain drugs, and inflammation. They can form spontaneously or as a result of exposure to heat, light or environmental stress. In some cases, the human body will even produce free radicals in order to neutralize bacteria or a virus.
While you can’t avoid many of the common triggers for free radical production, you can work to combat free radicals with a bit of preventative care and maintenance.
Antioxidants, in the form of skincare ingredients, have proven incredibly effective for addressing free radicals in the skin. Antioxidants are technically vitamins, amino acids and other natural compounds, but they also act as skin protectors, working to neutralize free radicals and aid in the repair process.
When used topically, antioxidants prevent damage - stopping free radicals in their tracks before they are able to attach to a healthy cell. Over time, this also helps the skin cope with environmental stress.
Incorporating Antioxidants in Your Skincare
Knowing all this, you can probably understand why antioxidants play such a crucial role in many skincare products and formulations. Antioxidant ingredients like vitamin E and A are fat soluble and work to protect cell membranes while others like vitamin C actively guard the interior of cells and DNA. Other natural sources of antioxidants include green and white tea, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q-10 and grapeseed.
At Bellavana Beauty, we recognize the potent power of using antioxidant botanicals to treat the skin. Our clean beauty cosmetics are formulated with vitamins C and E and green tea extract. We also use bakuchiol which is a natural source of alpha-lipoic acid. These naturally antioxidant components are what make the difference in our products and for your skin.
- Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging By Borut Poljsak and Raja Dahmane https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3299230/
- What is a Free Radical? By Dr. Diana Howard, International Dermal Institute https://www.dermalinstitute.com/article/what-is-a-free-radical/
- What Causes Skin Aging? By Dr. Diana Howard, International Dermal Institute https://www.dermalinstitute.com/article/what-causes-skin-aging