WHAT ARE FREE RADICALS?

You may have heard the term “free radical damage” used by your skin specialist when talking about how to care for and protect your skin, but do you actually know what they are on about!?

Free radicals are uncharged, extremely reactive, and can also be very damaging little molecular nasties!  They float around the body, hunting for electrons that they can ‘steal’ from other atoms.  Once they have stolen an electron, the other unpaired molecule then becomes a free radical and the chain continues.

Our bodies are under constant attack from oxidative stress, which is when the Oxygen molecule splits into two separate electrons.  When electrons are not in pairs, they tend to go a little crazy and become free radicals, causing damage to other cells, proteins and DNA.  Once a cell is damaged by free radicals it can mutate and even die as a result, which leads to other diseases and accelerates the aging process.

Free radicals no only cause our skin to age quicker, but can also cause inflammation and decrease our ability to heal.  They can be generated from specific foods and lifestyle choices, such as junk food, alcohol, stress, smoking, drug consumption, UV damage, pregnancy and pollution etc.  They are found all throughout the bodies organs, not just in the skin.  In some cases, we actually need free radicals to help kill off other evil invaders and help to convert food and oxygen into energy, but when the free radical damage becomes out of control, that is when we have a problem.  The one way to make sure this doesn’t happen is to make sure we have plenty of antioxidants available.

Oxidative Stress Diagram

A diagram showing how Free Radicals can cause Oxidative Stress

 

SO WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS THEN?

We can counteract free radical damage by introducing antioxidants which are able to give the free radicals an electron without destabilising themselves in the process.  These little beauties are amazing!  Although our body does produce some on its own, we need to boost our intake orally and topically, through diet and skincare.

Foods full of antioxidants

Fruits, nuts and other foods containing high amounts of antioxidants

 

HOW DO YOU PROTECT YOUR SKIN FROM FREE RADICAL DAMAGE?

There are a number of ways in which we can increase our antioxidant levels.  Firstly, we need to take care of our mental health and reduce our stress levels!  Stress can have a major impact on not only our mind and overall health but can also impact the amount of free radicals we have floating around our bodies.  It’s important to take some time out and do something for ourselves to relax our mind and bodies every now and then.  Regular exercise can also help with this.

Internally, we need to make sure that we have a balanced diet, incorporating lots of foods with high antioxidant levels, such as berries, kale, beetroot, spinach, nuts and seeds and green tea.  Cut down on fatty and processed foods, as well as alcohol and smoking.  It’s also a great idea to add in a skin supplement, such as Miss Vitality’s Elevate Powder, which is a red and green superfood blend, making it much easier to stay on top of all the vitamins and nutrients needed for our skin to function at its absolute best.

We can also inject our skin with antioxidants topically through our skincare regimes.  It’s important to begin your routine with a good cleanser, one that will strip the days makeup and pollutants from the skin (decreasing free radical penetration) without compromising its barrier.  Next, use serums that contain anti-oxidants, such as a Vitamin C Serum.  It is also important to use treatment products that use a delivery system (like IMAGE Skincare’s Vectorize technology), ensuring the correct ingredients get to where they need to go specifically within the skin.  Peptides and stem-cells are also great at repairing and rejuvenating the skins cells, so are another must have ingredient.  Finally, finish off your morning routine with a sunscreen to eradicate any UV damage that can lead to the production of free radicals.

Still confused?  Contact Claire, Beauty Therapist at Balwyn’s Luminescence Beauty Therapies Salon if you have any questions regarding free radicals, antioxidants, or anything to do with skin health and skincare.