Antioxidants, Free Radicals and Your Skin
There’s a new buzz word in the health and wellness arena. Free Radicals. Have you heard of these? Free radicals are constantly working to break down your skin’s protective barriers. They are toxic and can wreak havoc on your skin and your body if they are not kept in check. We are going to break down what free radicals are, how you can help your body get rid of them, and products that can help reverse the damage they can cause.
What are Free Radicals?
To understand what free radicals are, we need to dive in scientifically. Human beings, the air we breathe, and just about everything around us is made of molecules. Atoms make up those molecules, and atoms are made up of electron pairs. To put it simply, free radicals are basically an atom missing an electron.
Because of the missing electron, these atoms are considered unstable and in an effort to make up the correct number of electrons they react quickly with other substances.
Within our bodies, there is a delicate balance of stable and unstable cells that we need to maintain to be healthy. If there is an excess of free radicals making homes within our cells, there are many conditions and diseases that can occur.
Why Do I Need to be Concerned about Free Radicals?
There’s something called oxidative stress or the “free radical theory of aging” which is basically when these unstable atoms, the free radicals, try and take electrons from the atoms within your skin or other atoms that make up your body. When they are successful in doing so, damage is caused to our skin within the skin’s DNA which in turn can speed up the aging process of our skin.
Damage done by free radicals on the skin’s surface can come in a lot of different forms. Brown spots and broken blood vessels can be a sign of free radical damage. Weakened, loose, or saggy skin can also be attributed to the damage that free radicals cause. They can even break down the skin’s collagen and create wrinkles and fine lines.
Free Radicals can also have an effect on the hair. There are proteins within our hair that keep it healthy, strong, and shiny. Those proteins can be damaged by oxidative stress. Free radical damage can result in rough and thinning hair and can even bring on earlier greying.
Where are free radicals found?
Free radicals sound pretty awful, right? In learning about them, we naturally want to avoid them. But where are they coming from?
Free radicals can come from a variety of things. Some of the main sources are caused by:
- Cigarette Smoke
- Poor nutrition, especially full of processed foods
- Certain medications
- High amounts of emotional or physical stress
- UV Radiation from the sun
- Air Pollution and smog
Free Radicals can be found almost everywhere and we are exposed to them daily. Your own body even produces free radicals. Some of them can be used for good. For example, they are a crucial part of the immune system. They move through the veins and if they find an invader, they attack. They also are a huge part of the chemistry of our metabolisms.
How Can I Get Rid of Harmful Free Radicals?
If you were wondering how to avoid free radicals at all costs, you can’t. It’s impossible. They are everywhere.
The good news is that there are resources to keeping your skin and body healthy. First, avoiding the triggers listed above is a great way to start. While you can’t avoid them all, you can take steps in your life to try and reduce the causes of free radicals from your life. Some ideas would be to
- Try and cut our stress in your life
- Stay out of direct sunlight for extended periods of time
- Reach and maintain a weight that is healthy
- Regularly getting exercise
- Avoid environmental pollutants in water by drinking filtered water
The next step to dealing with free radicals is all about antioxidants and the different sources we can use to get them.
What are Antioxidants?
Every story needs the hero that can come in and take out the bad guy. That’s where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants are important compounds that can help with free radicals. They can stop the damage or at the very least, delay it.
The way they work is by binding to free radicals, which prevents those pesky free radicals from binding to your healthy skin cells and damaging them. With enough antioxidants working for your good, it creates a chain effect, returning the count of free radicals back to a normal level that your body can handle naturally.
Antioxidants are vitamin powerhouses and contain vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. They are consumed from food and different liquids. They can also be applied topically in many products for hair, skin, and more.
We want to shoot for our antioxidant level in our bodies to be lower than the level of free radicals. We can manage this by what we eat, reducing stress, and exercising. These things can reverse the oxidation process that can be so harmful to our bodies.
Foods that are High in Antioxidants
Feeding your body the healthy nutrients it needs usually gives you plenty of antioxidants to help give your cells the protection they need. Many fruits and veggies contain antioxidants that will go hard to work for you fighting against free radicals. Here are some that are high in antioxidants:
- Spinach. Once again, this superfood is a top recommendation for a healthy diet. Spinach is loaded with antioxidants and is one of the best sources of the antioxidants lutein and zeaxanthin which protect your eyes from free radical damage.
- Raspberries. These tart little berries provide amazing vitamins and minerals for your body as well as antioxidants that have been linked to lowering the risk of certain kinds of cancer.
- Blueberries. This berry is found to contain one of the highest amounts of antioxidants in all fruits and vegetables. They are rich in an antioxidant called anthocyanins which is linked to reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Pecans. Pecans can actually help raise levels of antioxidants in the blood. They are rich in healthy fats and other minerals.
- Dark Chocolate. Most people aren’t complaining about being told to eat chocolate for their health. Dark Chocolate is a great source of antioxidants. The higher the cocoa content, the more antioxidants in the chocolate.
- Artichoke Hearts. Artichoke hearts are effective in generating energy and improving heart and liver health. They have the highest antioxidant content of all vegetables.
When it comes to foods with antioxidants, a good rule of thumb is to look for fruits or vegetables that are rich in color. Most of the time, these are the produce options that will give your beauty the biggest boost.
Products to Keep Antioxidants at Bay
Have you ever squeezed lemon juice on an avocado to keep it from browning? That’s essentially the idea of using antioxidants on your skin. You can counteract the damage that the free radicals would cause.
Besides using nutrition and the consumption of healthy foods to combat free radical damage, there are many products on the market now that contain antioxidants and will help keep your skin looking young.
If you are looking for a good serum, LaLa Daisy has some really great options to come to the rescue.
- Obagi System Professional-C Vitamin C Serum is packed with antioxidant protection that can help protect your skin, especially from harmful UV damage.
- Cellex-C Advanced-C Serum contains resveratrol and ergothioneine, two power-packed antioxidants that can help with skin damage.
- IMAGE Skincare Ormedic Balancing Antioxidant Serum is another great antioxidant-rich serum to help with free radicals.
You can also find antioxidants in your moisturizer that will help protect your skin. These can defend your skin’s cells from the harsh environmental pollutants and other harmful substances. Here are some great moisturizer options:
- Elemis Pro-Collagen Marine Cream is an award-winning product with antioxidants that will provide a layer of protection while you need it throughout the day.
- Elta MD PM Therapy Facial Moisturizer can help reverse the signs of aging and keep your skin strong and able to restore its cells.
Hair thinning, losing its silky properties, and early greying can all be traced back to free radical damage. Luckily, there are even hair products with antioxidants that can assist in making sure your hair is well protected.
- Some shampoo and conditioners help with free radical damage by using different antioxidants in their formulas. Prive Damage Fix Shampoo and Conditioner contains antioxidants from the acai berry to keep your hair protected from damage.
- It’s A Miracle Leave-In Plus Keratin is a great way to put a protective layer on your hair before styling. These antioxidants come thanks to green tea leaf extracts to fight environmental damage.
Washing your face every night is a non-negotiable in the beauty world. The tiniest fragments of smoke, pollution, or dust can cling to your skin and it’s extremely important to wash every night. This ensures that they won’t work their way into your pores and allow free radicals to cause inflammation.
When you are choosing a face wash that’s able to provide the protection your skin needs, look for Vitamins A, C, and E and rich in antioxidants, specifically resveratrol or niacinamide.
- Bioelements Sensitive Skin Cleanser is a good way to wash your face free of free radicals. The formula of this cleanser is full of all natural ingredients.
- Glo Skin Beauty Phyto Active Cream Cleanser is another great option. It contains green tea, aloe vera, and papaya enzymes to bring in protective properties for your face.
Free radicals may seem a little daunting, but luckily there are a lot of products you can use to help combat them. Find all these products at LaLa Daisy!