Free Radicals: What are They and How Do They Affect Your Skin?

December 13, 2019

Free-Radicals-What-are-They-and-How-Do-They-Affect-Your-SkinWhile many of us may have heard or seen the term “free radicals”, not all of us know what those words really mean or how they affect the skin. Free radicals, for the most part, are everywhere and cause oxidative stress in the skin. They can damage skin cells and contribute to premature aging.

What exactly are free radicals?

Free radicals, according to the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), are unstable molecules that can cause oxidative stress, a process that triggers cell damage. They can come from a number of sources such as dust, pollution, sunlight, and smoke. They can also be found in food and water.

Free radicals have missing electrons, causing them to look for other atoms or molecules to find what they are missing. They do this to become stable and feel whole again. Since skin is the largest organ, free radicals can find or take away missing electrons in the skin. This can then cause damage to DNA, proteins, and cell membranes.

What causes or increases free radicals?

Although free radicals are also a byproduct of biochemical processes (and the natural aging process) in the body, a number of external factors can also cause or trigger an increase in their production. These include:

  • Overexposure to sun
  • Pollution
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Pesticides
  • Too much alcohol
  • Poor diet (processed meats, foods high in saturated fat, deep fried foods)

How do they affect the skin?

To get an idea of how free radicals damage the skin, notice what happens to an apple or banana that you leave out in the air. The fruit usually turns brown or becomes discolored due to the oxidation caused by free radicals. The same thing can happen to our skin, but the damage can take years (or decades) to show instead of minutes. 

The body neutralizes free radicals using antioxidants. Unfortunately, when its production supersedes the body’s neutralizing ability, oxidative stress can happen. This can damage cells, including those responsible for the production of hyaluronic acid, collagen, and elastin, the substances that give the skin a youthful appearance.

The production of the mentioned substances also declines with age and oxidative stress speeds up this process. This can then result in premature aging, and you  may begin to notice signs of aging such as wrinkles, fine lines, and tired-looking skin. 

How do you protect skin from free radicals?

We cannot completely avoid exposure to free radicals, but we can do a number of things to protect our skin and body.

Eat a Balanced Diet

To assist your body in fighting free radicals, eat a diet rich in vitamins and antioxidants. Good choices include citrus fruits, green vegetables, beans, and oily fish. Fill your diet with a colorful mix of fruits and vegetables, as well as seeds, whole grains, and nuts, which are also known to provide good nutrients.

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Save your skin and health by quitting smoking or never start smoking in the first place. You should also limit the amount of alcohol you drink and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Other healthy habits to adopt include:

  • Limiting the time you spend in the sun and applying sun protection
  • Managing and reducing stress
  • Exercising daily or most days of the week
  • Getting adequate sleep every night (7 to 9 hours)

Use skincare products with Vitamin C

Vitamin C is a proven antioxidant ingredient that can help improve skin quality. This is why we recommend using Vitamin C 20% with Ferulic Acid, which is a comprehensive antioxidant super serum. It can combat oxidative stress and provide additional hydration and skin lightening benefits. Other reasons to love this serum include: 

  • Hydrates and moisturizes the skin
  • Offers unrivaled antioxidant benefits
  • Antioxidant actives work synergistically to enhance free radical fighting properties

Consider an anti-aging serum

If you notice signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles, consider using an anti-aging product like serums. One good recommendation is the Fibroblast Growth Factor Serum, a product that can boost skin’s texture, density, and firmness. Fibroblast can reactivate collagen and dermal activity, as well as target age-related degradation. 

You can check out our previous post to learn more about Fibroblast and find out why you should add this serum to your skincare routine

Defend yourself against free radicals with the tips mentioned above. To purchase or learn more about the anti-aging serums, visit this link.