We should start by wondering what are anti-oxidants but first I am going to tell you what are free radicals.
By the end of this *cough* exceptional post you will know:
- What are free radicals and why do we care
- Where do they come from
- What are anti-oxidants and why do we care
Without further delay, I present you free radicals.
What are free radicals and why do we care?
Free radicals are reactive species, molecules that have an unpaired electron. They are highly unstable and to become stable they “steal” an electron from other molecules that become free radicals themselves. Thus, free radicals initiate a reaction chain.
So, why are they so bad?
Because they are the culprit for many issues, including aging, wrinkles, loss of firmness, sun damage, age spots, dehydration, creepiness, redness, acne flare-ups, irritation and inflammation.
Where do they come from?
There are three main “families” of free radicals and pro-oxidant molecules (molecule that favor oxidative reactions).
- Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) are the most damaging, they attack cells and DNA and they impair skin barrier. They have external causes like sun exposure, smog, smoke, stress and pollution, but also an internal origin due to the normal metabolic processes in mitochondria.
- Reactive Carbonyl Species (RCS) Come directly from drinking alcohol and eating sugar. They are responsible for sagging skin, deep wrinkles, dark spots and inflammation.
- Reactive Nitrogen Species (RNS) are the result of pollution, create inflammation and boost the damage of ROS and RCS.
What are anti-oxidants and why do we care
Each human cell has been estimated to be targeted by reactive molecules about 10,000 times per day. Luckily, we can defend our cells with other molecules that stabilize free radicals. These molecules are known as anti-oxidants. You probably heard of Vitamin C, E, flavonoids and enzymes like superoxide dismutase.
These are some of the heroes that defend not only our skin, but any tissue that is subject to oxidative damage.
How can we be their loyal sidekicks?
The fight to free radicals requires a multi-pronged attack. We can target the external causes and try to minimize exposure by acting on what we can control:
- Use SPF every day. Yes, even on cloudy days and winter
- Avoid smoking
- Pay attention to what you eat, especially the nutritional values and ingredients that you feed to your body. Try to limit alcohol, added sugars and processed food. Instead eat foods rich in anti-oxidants
- Try to destress and let go. Techniques like breathing and meditation may help
- Apply to your skin anti-oxidant ingredients, like the superheroes mentioned above
What steps are you taking to battle free radicals? What are your favorite anti-oxidants?