What are Antioxidants + Free Radicals?

The words “antioxidant” and “free radicals" are tossed around a lot in the skin care world. Do you actually know what they are and do for your skin? Here is the complete scientific skin geek explanation!

What are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are molecules like UV rays, cigarette smoke, and air pollution. These molecules at its most basic are missing an electron. When speaking about the skin specifically, free radicals enter the skin and try to steal an electron and in the process destroys proteins, DNA and cell membranes. This is the process called oxidation.

What are Antioxidants?

The word antioxidant comes from the word anti-oxidation which means certain ingredients like vitamin C, E, A, acai, green and white tea, turmeric, pomegranate, lycopene, resveratrol, coconut oil, coenzyme Q10, beta carotene etc. (too many to list!) all “donate” an electron to that free radical molecule resulting in a stable skin cell.

Antioxidants + Aging

The reason why using antioxidants in anti-aging products is so important is because free radicals break down collagen. And collagen fibers are responsible for wrinkles, fine lines, sagging and loss of tone.

Antioxidants and Acne

Now as for acne there is a good amount of inflammation that occurs which is known as oxidative stress. Studies indicate that acneic skin depletes antioxidants a lot faster than skin without acne. With out adequate antioxidant protection, the sebum in the skin oxidizes and becomes even more comedogenic causing more acne.

What you can do

1. Avoid stripping skin care products like aggressive scrubs and cleansers, alcohol based witch hazels and toners that disrupt the natural protective acid mantle of the skin allowing free radicals to enter a lot easier.

2. Use skin care products with antioxidants like adding a vitamin c serum to your day time skin care routine. See my post on my favorite toxin free vitamin C serums.

3. Eat antioxidant rich foods like berries, tomatoes, pomegranate, green tea, dark chocolate etc. (P.S. Antioxidants work the same for your entire body and all of your cells! So eat up!)