What are free radicals?
Free radicals are referred to as silent enemies that play an important role in the degeneration of our overall health and our skin.
There are two main sources of free radicals.
One source is a residual result created in the body during normal, essential metabolic functions. The other is introduced to us from our environment. Oxygen, although essential to life, is the source of potentially damaging free radicals. Stress also creates free radicals within the skin and contributes to the aging process.
Over time, free radicals break down our cells. And, as the body ages, it loses its ability to fight off the effects of free radicals. The end result? More free radicals, which leads to more damage to cells. This ultimately leads to the degenerative aging process.
So, how do I combat free radicals?
The answer is simple – antioxidants!
Our body produces several antioxidant enzymes that will neutralize many free radicals. Many vitamins and minerals act as antioxidants. Some examples include Vitamins A, C, & E, Niacin (B3), and carotenoids, such as beta-carotene, retinol, or bakuchiol – a naturally derived retinol alternative. Calcium, potassium, zinc, selenium, copper, iron, and magnesium can also help fight off free radicals.
What is the best way to protect yourself from free radicals?
It starts with what we eat. Eating foods rich in the vitamins and minerals mentioned above is the best way to consume antioxidants. Some foods that are packed with antioxidants include:
Squash & pumpkin
Leafy greens – spinach, kale, lettuce, and collard greens
Red & black beans
What role does our skincare play?
Can skincare combat free radicals? Well, one would hope so. However, this gets a little tricky because skincare products can have antioxidant properties but additional ingredients that can negate the benefits.
Having a basic understanding of the ingredients in your skincare beyond the “key or active” ingredients is the first place to start in choosing products that are antioxidant-rich. Products that contain antioxidants help to prevent and lessen wrinkles, lessen inflammation, increase vascular activity within the skin, repair and heal skin, and so much more. Be on the lookout for Vitamin C, Niacin, Bakuchiol, Vitamin E, and Green Tea Extract, to name a few.
Although we cannot fully avoid free radicals, we can take measures to protect ourselves from them! Maintaining a healthy diet rich in antioxidants and topically protecting ourselves with antioxidants will help fight against free radicals that can have negative effects on our overall health and most certainly on the health of our skin.