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Free Radicals and How to Fight Them

Joseph Coupal - Monday, December 09, 2013

By: Mary Kelley

Lately, it seems that the word antioxidant is on the lips of every healthcare and skincare care professional. We are told that we must eat a diet rich in antioxidants, take antioxidant supplements, and use antioxidant-based skin care products. There’s a lot of talk but very little information about what antioxidants are and what they really do.

First, let’s look at what antioxidants protect us from. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons—this imbalance causes the molecules to be very unstable and chemically reactive. These reactions are called oxidation. For most of us, this is a word we haven’t heard since junior high science class when discussing why metals get rusty. Our skin doesn’t get rusty when exposed to free radicals, however, we do see the adverse affects of oxidation in other ways. Skin damaged by free radicals will lose elasticity, develop hyperpigmentation, wrinkles or fine lines, or become rough, dry, or scaly; also, the biggest indicator of free radical damage is sunburn or skin cancer.

How do we fight free radicals by using proper skin care at home? The answer is simple: make sure your homecare products have effective antioxidants in you serums, crèmes, and sunscreens. Sunscreen, especially physical sunscreens that contain titanium oxide or zinc oxide, protects our skin from radiation damage from the sun.

But, what else works? The October issue of Skin Inc. lists Vitamins C and E as effective antioxidants. In fact, the article states that applying “topical antioxidants like vitamins C and E are potent tools for reversing sun damage to the skin.” Many product lines have Vitamin C in cleansers, crèmes, masques, and serums. Look for topical serums or crèmes that will stay on your skin for a long period of time.

SkinCeuticals has also published a study that concluded that topical C and E “provided substantial protection for human skin against solar simulator-induced oxidative skin damage, including erythema, sunburn cell formation and DNA mutations related to skin cancer.”

We’ve all heard the benefits of vitamins C and E but what may be news to most, is an antioxidant mentioned in a Skin, Inc article; melatonin—the chemical that moderates our sleeping and waking cycles. Naturally produced by our bodies, melatonin works synergistically with topically applied vitamins C and E for deeper penetration and to reduce inflammation. WebMD also lists the active form of vitamin A (Retinoic acid) as an effective antioxidant that reduces the impact of sun damage on skin.

Not sure how to work antioxidants into your skin care routine? Call Dream Spa Medical at 339-502-8070 to schedule a free consultation to find the best products for your skin type. If you are going to take antioxidant supplements, always consult your physician before beginning any regiment.


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