Skincare: What you need to know about free radicals and antioxidants

Your skin is an important organ. It not only protects your internal organs but is also the first thing people see when they look at you.

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But your skin faces dozens of threats every day, from skin diseases to harmful substances in the environment.

Free radicals and antioxidants are two scientific terms that are often mentioned in skincare. And if you are wondering what they are, then there is a short answer.

Free radicals are bad chemicals that can cause damage to your skin while antioxidants are good chemicals that help to deal with these free radicals.

Of course, the explanation above is way too simplified. You definitely need more details about free radicals and antioxidants to better understand how they affect your skin. And we will tackle that right away.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are charged chemical particles of oxygen that can react destructively with organic substances. Free radicals are charged because they contain unpaired electrons. This makes them unstable and highly reactive.

Free radicals cause damage by stealing electrons from normal healthy cells in a process known as oxidation or chemical burning. This can cause normal skin cells to malfunction or misbehave.

If you have ever observed apples turn brown after they are cut or seen rusted iron, then you have seen oxidation in action. Free radical damage on the skin may manifest as wrinkles, age spots or, in extreme cases, skin cancer.

Free radicals can be produced during normal body processes such as breathing and digestion. The radicals form during the chemical processes which turn food into energy. But free radicals also come from air pollution, smoking, and exposure to ultraviolet rays and x-rays.

Is your body completely defenceless against free radicals?

Definitely not!

Your body produces chemicals called antioxidants which naturally keep free radicals in check. Antioxidants are chemical groups which are stable enough to donate electrons to free radicals without turning into harmful radicals themselves.

Antioxidants are known to work in two ways: by reducing the formation of free radicals and by breaking the chain reaction of already active radicals. They can also detect and repair skin cells damaged by free radicals.

Sources of antioxidants

Your body produces its own antioxidants, known as enzymatic antioxidants. Examples are superoxide dismutase and catalase. These enzymes help to convert free radicals into harmless substances such as water and oxygen.

Fruits, such as Maqui berry, are rich sources of antioxidants.

But the most important antioxidants for skincare can be supplied through diet or by topically applying antioxidant-rich skincare products on your skin.

These important antioxidants include:

  • vitamins (vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E),
  • beta-carotene, and
  • phytochemicals.

Many of these antioxidants are found abundantly in fruits and vegetables. Carrot is a rich source of beta-carotene while citrus fruits, like oranges, contain considerable quantities of vitamin C.

When choosing skincare products, it is wise to go for products that contain antioxidants. Research has shown that antioxidants, like vitamin E, are more beneficial to the skin when applied topically than when consumed as food.

Here at Example Skincare, we completely understand the benefits of antioxidants for your skin. That is why our products are carefully formulated with antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Want to learn more? Read about the top three antioxidants that you should look out for in your skincare products.