Human skin is naked and is constantly directly exposed to the air, solar radiation, other environmental pollutants, or other mechanical and chemical insults, which are capable of inducing the generation of free radicals as well as reactive oxygen species of our own metabolism. A free radical can be defined as a chemical species possessing an unpaired electron and are important for living organisms. It can also be considered as a fragment of a molecule.
You might hear the term “free radicals” in the beauty community a lot. Free radicals are responsible for breaking down our skin’s collagen, resulting in unflattering skin blemishes like wrinkles, dark spots, fine lines and loose, saggy skin.
Our world is made of molecules, and molecules contain atoms. What you need to know about atoms is that they have tiny electrons orbiting them. These electrons like to be in pairs, like the buddy system, so everything is normal and safe. But sometimes, the structure of atoms breaks down and these electron pairs split up. These atoms containing unpaired electrons (electrons without a buddy) are known as free radicals, and they can be very harmful.
Free radicals can be produced in the body naturally, but they’re also introduced from outside sources, like pollution. Pollution is a big reason why free radicals are becoming more prevalent. Where you live or work can play a significant role in how much pollution you encounter, which will endanger your skin. For example, if you live in an industrial area, you may be at a higher risk of exposure due to a higher concentration of pollutants. Many types of pollutants are known to cause an increase in free radicals, such as:
● Cigarette smoke
● Household cleaners
● Farming pesticides
Your body is roughly 60 percent water and contains billions of oxygen atoms and some of these oxygen atoms may undergo a process called oxidation. It is when your body’s oxygen atoms spit and become free radicals. This is an occurring process, that constantly happens in our bodies, even right now, but it is something we want to minimize. Going back to the buddy system, oxidized oxygen atoms must steal electrons from anywhere they can find them, so they can be safe and balanced. They draw themselves to other electrons like a magnet, which can wreak havoc on the other atoms because they sometimes steal electrons from healthy cells.
This is the critical moment when the health of your skin is at risk. When free radicals are unable to steal an available electron from other atoms, they may start stealing them from our cells, ultimately causing a breakdown in the DNA of the skin, which can cause serious problems as “healthy” atoms are robbed of their electrons. The damage eventually appears on the skin in the form of wrinkles, sagging, dryness, dullness and pigmentation, such as age spots and broken blood vessels. For example, think of your skin like an apple slice, if you leave it out, the apple will eventually turn brown. Your skin experiences a similar progression when it’s continuously exposed to free radicals over time.
Remember, electrons always want to maintain the buddy system so they can stay safe and “balanced.” But, there are certain compounds, made up of many molecules and atoms, which happen to contain an extra electron that they can donate to a free radical without making themselves unstable. These atoms are known as antioxidants. To fight free radicals, antioxidants are your greatest weapon and armor.
You’re exposed to free radicals every day, so while you can’t avoid them entirely, you can turn to powerful antioxidants to help protect your skin and overall health. Antioxidants are vitamins and other nutrients that help protect your cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. Vitamins A, C, and E are some of the most well-known antioxidants.
When antioxidants encounter free radicals, which have unbalanced electrons, the antioxidants bind to them, immediately delivering their extra electron to the free radical, returning them to balance before they can harm your cells.
Not sure where to find antioxidants? You can find them in many of the foods and drinks you consume on a daily basis, such as kale, spinach, raspberries, blueberries, dark chocolate, coffee and tea. You should add more dark, leafy vegetables and colorful fruits to your diet if you don’t eat them already, and drink one cup of green tea per day.
Applying a vitamin C serum, such as DMK’s Direct Delivery Vitamin C, to your skin is another great way to get antioxidants. A vitamin C serum will help build collagen, which will fill in lines and wrinkles. It can also help protect your skin from harmful, free-radical-producing UVB rays.
Unfortunately, free radicals are a product of the world and environment around us. Luckily by adding more antioxidants, with their extra electrons, into our diets and skin-care routine, you can help slow the damaging effects that free radicals have on our body and skin.