Starting to feel hot and bothered? So are your skin cells. When we’re not at home binge-watching coverage of the Royal Wedding, we’re outside running around soaking up those UVs.
Imagine for a second that the same thing is going on in your skin, on a cellular level. Think rooftop hopping on a warm night, or swing dancing at a Derby party “swing your partner round and round, chaaaaange partners.” That’s free-wheeling, summertime spirit fun, but when the molecules in your body are doing it, things can get a little too free. I’m talking free radical.
Today we’re covering all your questions about antioxidants for your skin. We’re going full science on this one, but you don’t need a chem major to understand this piece.
What are free radicals?
Antioxidants work against free radicals. To understand antioxidants we first need to discuss free radicals. These are uncontrollable oxygen molecules that skip around within cells, and throughout your body. They spontaneously react with other molecules, usually throwing off the balance of stable molecules. It’s kind of like third wheeling, but in the most awkward way, basically ruining everyone’s night.
It gets worse. Once a free radical bonds with another molecule, that molecule also becomes a free radical, and it cascades on and on. This is called oxidative stress.
Cue the antioxidants. They prevent these reactive oxygen molecules from getting too frisky. They bond with free radicals, making them stable. The best part is that antioxidants are immune to this freewheeling intoxicating; I like to think of them as therapists.
What ignites free radicals?
A lot of us get excited when the temperatures warm up … okay all of us. Well, the same goes for free radicals. UV rays spark these spontaneous reactions, creating a dangerous chain reaction.
These are big culprits in the big C (cancer) by damaging DNA in your cells. Beyond that, they can lead to signs of aging. If one of your skin goals is to maintain that baby face for as long as possible, adding an antioxidant is a must for your routine.
How antioxidants work
The main function of these key ingredients is to reduce damage and protect against future harm. They do this by reducing inflammation, pairing with reactive molecules (chem fanatics: electron transfer) and adjusting gene expression.
Where to get them
Just Google it. Jokes, but honestly the top choices are very common parts of many of our diets: chocolate, berries, green tea. There are a lot of ways to eat antioxidants; a good rule of thumb is to go for the big B’s: berries, beans and broccoli.
In your skincare, you want to look for your acids and Vitamin E. Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), Uric Acid (xanthine), Lipoic Acid Ferulic Acid. Other great ingredients to look out for include grape seed extract, melatonin, turmeric, aloe vera and ginseng.
Your body produces a natural antioxidant, Vitamin D, which helps build up the skin cells that protect you from UV radiation and protects you from DNA damage.
Where to put them in your skincare routine
You really want your antioxidants to penetrate the skin as deeply as possible, so finding a good antioxidant serum will go a long way. For a more intense solution, go for a mask with one of the antioxidant ingredients listed above.