What’s the big deal about free radicals?
If you’ve ever bought a product that boasted free radical fighting properties, you may already have some inkling that they can be an enemy to happy, healthy skin. What you may not know is why it’s important, and what to do about free radical damage. If you’ve got questions, we have answers. Here’s what you need to know:
So, what are free radicals anyway?
Basically, a free radical is a molecule that is missing an electron and, as a result, will aggressively steal electrons from other molecules. When this happens in the skin it creates damage to the cell membranes, disrupting healthy skin function and cellular turnover.
Why does this matter?
Well, because over time, this can lead to all kinds of unwanted skin issues, including premature aging, increased sensitivity, irritation, age spots, dullness, and dryness. Yikes! So, what can you do to protect your skin from free radical damage and promote a glowing complexion this summer?
Here are our top tips:
• Up your antioxidant factor - Generally speaking, antioxidants are the superhero ingredients that take on free radicals; repairing existing free radical damage as well as preventing future damage to the skin. We’ll talk more in depth about a few of our favorites but when shopping for antioxidant skincare, experts cite Vitamins A, B, C and E as being key ingredients to look for, as well as resveratrol, coenzyme q-10, and polyphenols, like green tea extract.
• Stay on top of SPF - UV exposure is top contributor to free radical damage, so sun protection is crucial. By applying an SPF of 30 or more daily and re-applying every two hours, you will help prevent not only free radical damage but discoloration, inflammation, sun damage and skin cancer.
• Swap heavy creams for lighter weight hydrators - Hotter temperatures may make it tempting to skip your moisturizer, but bear in mind that the skin needs hydration just as much in the summer. Rather than forego this step in your routine, try opting for a lighter weight cream or even gel hydrator. Many brands offer multiple moisturizer options, making it easy to adjust according to your skin’s seasonal needs.
• Boost daily with Vitamin C - If we could choose just one antioxidant for glowing, summer skin, it would be Vitamin C. The benefits of C are numerous, but when it comes to fighting free radicals, Vitamin C helps to not only repair existing damage but also boost the skin’s immunity against future exposure. Bonus: Vitamin C is naturally brightening and promotes collagen synthesis for an overall more youthful complexion.
• Brighten and repair with Vitamin A - Another favorite free radical fighting antioxidant we love is Vitamin A. This super ingredient often appears in skincare as retinol, which comes in a variety of potencies, depending on the product. Retinols work well to repair damaged skin and promote cellular regeneration while you sleep. Vitamin A and its derivatives help with healing free radical damage by keeping the skin functioning at a youthful rate, and encouraging the growth of new, healthy cells.
Other things to know
As with all skincare, antioxidant products work best when used consistently. Think of them as nutrition for your skin, and try to apply ingredients like Vitamin C daily, for best results. Although free radicals are unavoidable in our environment, you can do a lot to prevent their damaging effects with just a few good products.