Free Radicals and their link to ageing
Our top tips on how to combat these pesky little molecules.
By Jana Leonard
We have been bombarded with the term “harmful free radicals”, but what exactly are they? The easiest way to explain it is when you leave an apple or avocado outside, cut open, it turns brown. What you have experienced is called oxidation.
Free Radicals do exactly this to the largest organ in (or rather on) our bodies - our skin. Free Radicals are unstable molecules seeking their missing electrons from other atoms or molecules, for them to feel whole again, and in theory become stable. Your skin offers this platform for them to undergo the process of oxidation or oxidative stress and can damage your DNA and other parts of the cell. Oxidation weakens living cells and tissues, leaving you more vulnerable for other health issues. Not only directly associated with ageing, Free Radicals have also been involved in diseases such as cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s Disease.
You will start seeing the impact of Free Radicals, which is unavoidable, on your skin by means of discolouration, brown spots, broken blood vessels, unevenness, wrinkles (caused by a collagen breakdown) and loose and saggy skin (caused by damaged elastic fibres).
To prevent Free Radicals from ‘attacking’ your skin, you can start incorporating more antioxidants into your skincare routine and diet. Remember the apple and avocado - now, when you apply lemon juice to the fruits mentioned, it prevents it from turning brown - that is the effects of antioxidants. The same goes for your skin!
These generous compounds will willingly donate an electron so free radicals don’t steal one from your skin. Antioxidants bind to free radicals, which means free radicals don’t have the opportunity to bind to your healthy cells and in turn, damage them. Antioxidants can either be applied directly to your skin or included in your diet.
- Vitamin A speeds healing, prevents breakouts and supports the skin's immune system.
- Vitamin C helps your skin build a supportive structure to stay firm and healthy, it helps counteract UV free radical stress and pollution.
- Vitamin E soothes and firms skin, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, protects against UV damage and has anti-inflammatory properties.
- Resveratrol is a stilbenoid, a type of natural phenol produced by several plants in response to injury or when the plant is under attack by pathogens, such as bacteria or fungi. This protects skin from UVB damage.
- Niacinamide can be used for inflammation, redness, brown spots or pigmentation. It is a form of vitamin B₃ found in food.
- Other ingredients like vitamin E, turmeric, green tea extract, sea buckthorn and astaxanthin are also common antioxidant powerhouses.
We suggest eating a diet high in blueberries, dark chocolate and pomegranate, as well as green tea and where possible - argan oil. All of these can assist you in fighting the effects of free radicals. However, for the most effective free radical protection we suggest including an antioxidant product into your skincare routine day and night. We know that the antioxidants in the respective products will fight free radicals in the day and repair damage in the evening.
We are loving the following products:
Terres d’ Afrique Antioxidant Toner
This product, which contains rooibos, completes your cleansing process and protects the skin against free-radicals. It is suitable for all skin types, particularly oily and acne prone skin.
Terres d’ Afrique is having a 50% sale on all their products so we suggest adding to cart now!
OrchidBloom’s Pomelo + Maracuja Antioxidant skin oil
This combination serum is high in vitamin C, protective antioxidants & essential amino acids that build healthy skin cells. The high flavonoid content assists in combating free radical damage, pollution and environmental skin stressors. It targets skin dryness, fine lines and may improve overall elasticity and firmness.With delicate rose and Hyaluronic Acid, a powerful moisture-binding ingredient that strengthens the skin's barrier by delivering hydration where it's needed most. Apply a few drops and gently massage around the eye area and any areas of concern.
Mesh & Bone Vitamin C Multipurpose Skin Booster
Use this Vitamin C Multipurpose Skin Booster to improve skin health on the inside as well as the outside. Use as a facial scrub to remove dead skin cells as well as a dietary supplement by adding it to your morning water, juice or smoothie. It visibly improves skin tone, pores, fine lines and stimulates collagen production.