In chemistry, a Free Radical is a molecule that contains at least one unpaired (rogue) electron. This makes the molecule unstable. Stable molecules contain an even number (pairs) of electrons.
WHAT CAUSES FREE RADICALS
Insofar as the skin’s wellbeing is concerned, most Free Radicals are formed due to oxidative stress from exposure to the sun’s rays. Exposure to environmental pollution, computer screens (blue light) and smoking are also contributors to the production of free radicals.
FREE RADICAL DAMAGE TO THE SKIN
Free radicals can damage the skin by trying to steal an extra electron from atoms in the skin so it can become stable. When atoms are taken away from molecules in the skin, they cause damage to our skin's DNA, which in turn increases and hastens the skin aging process. The effect is cumulative and over time makes it more difficult for the skin to repair itself. This increases the onset of fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, age spots and other signs of skin ageing,
How can we protect ourselves from free radicals and the resultant skin damage?
ANTIOXIDANTS FOR THE SKIN
Antioxidants (vitamins) are crucial in the fight against free radicals.
Antioxidants, particularly Vitamin A, Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide), Provitamin B5 (Panthenol), Vitamin C and Vitamin E (Tocopherol), act to neutralize the skin’s free radical molecules, by adhering to the free electrons and make the molecules stable. These vitamins mitigate free radical damage and the escalation of the skin’s ageing process.
When it comes to antioxidants, we recommend an holistic approach to skin care and that you also include foods in your diet, which are rich in antioxidants.
BEST ANTIOXIDANT FOODS FOR THE SKIN
A good rule of thumb is the brighter the colour, the greater the antioxidant level. Wild salmon (not farm-raised), dark leafy greens, red onions, eggplants, beets, bright bell peppers, blueberries, strawberries and mangoes are staples in a healthy diet and indeed healthy skin.