What's a Free Radical & What Can I Do About It?
Most of us have heard that free radicals can harm your skin and that antioxidants can help. But what exactly is a free radical? And how do free radicals and antioxidants affect your health?
Since free radicals can have a visible impact on your skin, it's important to understand a little about them and what you can do to fight them.
What are Free Radicals?
Free radicals are unstable molecules that can wreak havoc on skin and contribute to premature aging. Why are they unstable? They are missing electrons from their outer shell and have at least one unpaired electron, which results in them searching for electrons from other molecules or atoms so that they can stabilize. And when this happens with oxygen molecules, it creates reactive oxygen species (ROS) and results in a process called oxidative stress, which damages the body’s cells.
Oxidative stress can lead to a range of diseases and symptoms of aging, such as wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, graying hair, hair loss, and changes in hair texture. Furthermore, as we age, we lose our ability to combat the effects of free radicals.
This, in turn, means more free radicals, more oxidative stress, and more cell damage. The gradual, but increasingly rapid buildup of free radicals offers one explanation for why even healthy bodies age and deteriorate over time. And while the free radical theory of aging is relatively new, there are numerous studies to support it.
Based on this learning, defending your skin against free radicals is essential. That’s why antioxidants, which boost the anti-aging profile of all your skincare, are your best friends!
How Can Antioxidants Benefit Our Skin?
Antioxidants are compounds produced in your body and found in both food and skincare products. They help fight against and prevent the effects of free radicals because they donate an electron to free radicals, thereby reducing their reactivity.
What makes antioxidants extra special is that they can donate an electron without turning into free radicals themselves. Because of this, antioxidants can help to prevent the harmful effects of free radicals and they are often referred to as free-radical scavengers.
Where Can You Find Antioxidants?
Antioxidants can be found in berries, citrus fruits, soy products, and carrots, and eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help increase your blood antioxidant levels to fight oxidative stress and reduce the risk of these diseases. Another way to give your body some antioxidant support is to use skincare products that are packed with antioxidants.
The Defend Collection, includes eight different products, each one rich with antioxidant benefits. Everyone can benefit from incorporating items from this collection into their skincare routine, starting with the Gentle Exfoliator, Purifying Cleanser, and Purifying Bubble Mask. All of these products work to gently clean and purify your skin with an array of ingredient powerhouses, including Ginkgo, Lactic Acid, Moringa Seed, Seaberry, Green Tea, Charcoal and Apple Juice Amino Acids.
You can enhance your skin’s defenses even further with the Defend Skin Restoring Serum and Overnight Recovery Cream, both of which replenish nutrients and fight dullness caused by environmental toxins and general climate conditions. Star ingredients include Rooibos Red Tea, Carrot Seed Oil, Seaweed and Brown Algae, all bursting with antioxidant and vitamins to defend and nourish skin.
Protecting your skin with daily sunscreen is also a very important way to minimize the impact of free radicals. The Matte Finish All-Mineral SPF 30 is packed with Peach Flower, which has been shown to have high free radical scavenging activity.
The Bottom Line
Free radicals cause damage to your cells, but antioxidants can help fight free radicals and oxidative stress. Eating foods and using skincare products that are rich in antioxidants help neutralize free radicals and boost your levels of antioxidants so that you can reap their many health benefits.
About the author, Jasmin Figueroa
Jasmin is an accomplished formulation scientist and skin health expert who has spent her career listening to consumers and developing products that rock. A founding member of the Nuria community, she loves traveling with her family, chilling with her friends at the beach, and will totally judge you if you don’t wear SPF.