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Free-Radical Damage And Your Skin

free radicals and skin

Keeping your skin clean and hydrated will always be important, but there are other factors that may be causing you to notice you’re just not glowing the way you would like to. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with keeping your skincare routine as simple as cleansing, toning and moisturizing, but skincare science and technology have changed significantly since those were established as the staple steps. One common and misunderstood factor that contributes to premature aging are free radicals, which are often caused by environmental aggressors like air pollutants and tobacco smoke. Read on to learn how to protect your skin from free-radical damage for better-looking skin now and in the future.

What Are Free Radicals?

Understanding what free radicals are and what they do to your skin requires a quick chemistry lesson. Atoms are surrounded by layers (called shells) that contain a limited number of orbiting electrons. Once a shell is full, the electrons begin to fill another shell. If the shell is not full, the atom becomes a free radical and will seek out another atom with a matching electron to complete its outer shell.

Although free radicals occur naturally in the body, exposure to lifestyle and environmental factors can speed up their production. Some of the most common include:

  • Pesticides and cleaners
  • UVA/UVB rays
  • Diet high in fat and sugar 
  • Alcohol intake

The National Institutes of Health reports that among environmental factors, exposure to UV radiation contributes up to 80% of free radical skin damage including skin aging and skin cancer

How Do Free Radicals Affect the Skin?

Skin is the largest organ of the body, leaving it particularly vulnerable to free-radical damage. Every cell, including skin cells, requires oxygen to function and remain healthy. Young skin can efficiently process enough oxygen from the environment. However, as we age, skin becomes less efficient at maintaining and using oxygen for repairs and reproduction of new cells, including collagen and elastin tissue. 

Lifestyle and environmental factors like pesticides, sun exposure, and poor diet introduce free radicals into the system causing oxidative stress.

How to Prevent Free-Radical Damage

You aren’t helpless against free radicals and the damage they cause. Molecules called antioxidants provide free radicals with the electrons they seek without turning into free radicals themselves. These self-sacrificing molecules can be both a preventive measure to reduce the effects of free radicals and a reparative treatment for signs of aging caused by free radicals. 

Antioxidants and Free Radicals 

Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds that protect your cells against damage. While abundant in fresh, healthy foods, antioxidants incorporated into skincare formulations can help target benefits directly into the skin. The list of free-radical fighters credited with skin-protecting and anti-aging properties includes some well-studied skincare antioxidants:

  • Vitamin C is widely used to help stimulate collagen production and minimize dark spots. It is often listed as Ester-C or L-ascorbic acid. 
  • Vitamin E is an essential nutrient that aids in moisturizing and healing wounds.
  • Resveratrol is a chemical found in red wine, grapes, berries and tea. This antioxidant, noted for its anti-inflammatory and UV-protective properties, may also help boost collagen and elastin.
  • Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3,  can improve skin tone and texture.
  • Vitamin A (more commonly known in skincare as retinol) is a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved anti-wrinkle agent that can improve the skin’s appearance. 

When Should I Worry About Free Radical Damage?

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. The sooner you introduce antioxidants into your routine, the better. How well you care for your skin from a young age and how you limit your sun exposure before you hit your 20s can make a difference in wrinkle formation. During young adulthood, you may begin to observe fine lines, crow’s feet and creases related to facial movements. Melasma, a brown discoloration due to sun exposure, hormones (birth control pills), pregnancy and certain antibiotics such as tetracycline, may also appear across the cheeks or forehead. 

Biopelle’s Antioxidant Products 

Adding dermatologist-recommended antioxidant serums to your current skincare routine can help you fight free radicals and maintain healthy, younger-looking skin longer:

  • Biopelle Tensage Daily Serum ($136) Ideal for all skin types, this concentrated, oil-free serum contains antioxidants niacinamide, vitamin C, vitamin E, moisturizing Hyaluronic acid and snail secretion filtrate. It can be used morning and night.
  • Biopelle Retriderm Serum Mild ($84) This mild retinol serum is a non-irritating, anti-aging product best suited for sensitive skin or users new to retinol. Ideal for night-time use.  Apply SPF 30 or higher sun protection if using in the morning.
  • Biopelle KNR Serum ($126) A combination of kojic acid, niacinamide, retinol, vitamin C and peptides helps brighten and even skin tone. Best for night-time use. If using in the morning, apply SPF 30 or higher.
  • Tensage Antioxidant Defense Serum ($125) An oil-free serum that combines 10% vitamin C, ferulic acid and Deschampsia Antarctica Leaf Extract to fight against environmental free radicals. Ideal for morning use followed by moisturizer or SPF 30 or higher sunscreen.
  • Tensage Intensive Serum 40 ($136) An intensive serum featuring concentrated growth factor benefits for fast improvement in the appearance of lackluster skin with visible improvement in as little as 24 hours. Use as a boosted treatment to kick-start results and refresh your skin. 
  • XCP Brightening Serum ($126) A powerful antioxidant serum featuring 10% L-Ascorbic acid combined with phytic acid, green tea extract, and grape seed extract to brighten skin tone and provide antioxidant protection. 

You can also include antioxidants into your skincare regimen with a cream or moisturizer:

Biopelle offers a wide range of science-backed skincare to help address your antioxidant skincare needs. Shop now

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