One of the most fascinating skin health phenomena is the power of antioxidants and their ability to repair skin damage and minimize the signs of aging. But how exactly do they work?
What is a free radical?
Free radicals are formed when a cell undergoes a chemical reaction and loses an electron. This can happen when our bodies are exposed to outside elements (think sunlight, cigarette smoke, or air pollution); in times of stress; or when we metabolise glucose.
With an unpaired electron, a cell becomes highly unstable and highly reactive. To make itself balanced again it will “steal” an electron from a neighboring, healthy atom, setting off a chain reaction of atoms stealing from one another. This process, known as free radical damage, can ultimately lead to cell damage or cell death.
When an abundance of free radicals are present, the body cannot naturally defend itself and skin damage results. This damage can include inflammation, wrinkles, and dark spots. In worse case scenarios, free radical damage can lead to skin cancer.
How do we ‘neutralize’ free radicals?
Once free radicals are present in your body, the only way to keep them from causing lasting damage is to present them with their missing electron and break the chain. Enter in antioxidants!
Antioxidants are compounds that remain stable no matter how many electrons they have. This makes them an excellent means of neutralizing free radicals.
They can make a free radical whole again, without becoming unstable themselves. Antioxidants, however, do not have an infinite number of electrons, so it is important to keep your body well-stocked.
To help you visualise this very science-y process, think about the card game Go Fish. The goal of the game is to reunite the cards in your hand with the other three cards of the same number, even if it means stealing a card from your neighboring players. The constant "stealing" of cards back and forth creates more chaos than order among players, just like free radicals in your body. The deck of un-dealt cards in the center of the game acts as the antioxidant, as it is there to help each hand become balanced again. The integrity of the deck remains intact while everyone steals from it. Once it's been depleted of cards...bam!...wrinkles for everyone. Okay, so not really, but hopefully, you get the idea.
Eating foods rich in antioxidants - like blueberries, blackberries, dark green vegetables, nuts, green tea, and cranberries - is a great way to fuel your body with free radical neutralizers. You can also apply antioxidants topically. Many skincare products incorporate antioxidants into their formulations to help restore and repair cell damage. There are even some that provide preventative care like Glow Berry Brightening Serum, which uses ingredients from nature to create a protective barrier to cells underneath the skin.
Vitamin C is an important and well-known antioxidant. In its more effective forms like L-ascorbic acid, Vitamin C can protect skin cells from UV-related damage, strengthen skin, reduce inflammation and promote collagen production. Brimming with 20 skin-loving plant, fruit and flower extracts, the Skin Feast Nourhisng Cream Concentrate is a daily moisturising hero nourishing the skin with a boost of powerful antioxidants and actives. It's your answer to a brighter, more nourished complexion!
One of our favorite antioxidant ingredients is rosehip oil. Harnessing the nourishing properties of some of nature’s most nutritious oils, the Elixir Age-defying Omega Oil is a luxurious, omega-packed golden oil for the face and body helps to promote an even skin tone and provide a smoother, radiant, more youthful complexion in weeks.
Antioxidants are something that can be beneficial to oily or dry skin types. In our experience, they help repair damage and give healthy skin a fantastic glow.
**If you enjoyed this post, I’d be very grateful if you’d help it spread by emailing it to a friend, or sharing it on Twitter or Facebook.