If you’re a little obsessed with reading skincare content like we are at Beauty Affairs, you’ve probably come across the phrase ‘free radical’ before. But what exactly are free radicals and what do they do to your skin?
They’re often linked to premature signs of ageing and are clearly something that we should be avoiding when it comes to skin - here’s our guide to why you need to watch out for free radicals, plus we've got the best skincare you can use to minimise the effects of free radicals on skin.
What Are Free Radicals?
In scientific terms, a free radical is a molecule that has one (or more!) unpaired electron. In simple terms, a free radical is imbalanced and does anything it can to rebalance itself - including stealing an electron from other molecules.
When free radicals try to do this on a molecular level on the skin, they kickstart a process called oxidative stress. Studies have found that oxidative stress is linked to chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation leads to many common skin concerns such as loss of volume in your skin, hyperpigmentation, and premature signs of ageing.
What Do Free Radicals on Skin Do?
To put what free radicals do to skin simply, they interfere with your skin's normal processes. That's how they're able to impact your skin health and cause premature signs of ageing.
Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
The truth is, our bodies actually produce a small number of free radicals as part of cellular metabolism. As part of the natural balance and processes of our bodies, we do actually produce a tiny amount of free radicals - so we can't 100% avoid exposure to them.
However, there are ways that we can minimise the impacts of free radicals and oxidative stress. One way is by reducing exposure to the three most common sources:
- Ultraviolet light
- Air pollution
- Cigarette smoke
It's no surprise that these three are also regarded as the three major causes of premature signs of ageing - and it all comes down to free radicals.
Minimising the Impact of Free Radicals on Skin
So, other than being sure to reduce sun exposure, avoid smoking and limit exposure to air pollution, what else can we do to shield our skin from free radicals?
One of the best things to do is to use antioxidants in your skincare routine. Antioxidants neutralise free radicals, effectively stopping them in their tracks!
On a molecular level, antioxidants can give free radicals the extra electron that they're looking for - preventing the damage that usually comes along with free radicals and oxidative stress.
Best Antioxidant Skincare Ingredients Against Free Radicals
Using the right skincare to shield your skin from free radicals and oxidative stress is key! The best skincare ingredient category for this is antioxidants. The benefits of antioxidants for skin are many - but this is one of the major reasons why you need antioxidants in your skincare routine.
Because antioxidants neutralize free radicals, they're the best for minimising the impact of oxidative stress on skin. Examples of great skincare ingredients to reach for include:
- Vitamin C
- Green Tea Extract
- Ginseng Extract
- Coenzyme Q10
- Vitamin E
- Kakadu Plum Extract
Essentially, any ingredient that has antioxidant powers will work wonders to shield your skin from free radicals! Another way to tell if a product is good for reducing the effects of free radicals is whether it’s described as anti-pollution skincare - these products are often fortified with antioxidants to protect skin from the effects of pollution.
Now that you know what free radicals are and how to protect your skin from them, we hope we've helped you get your beauty affairs in order!
Or, if you're still trying to create the best skincare routine for your skin type, try our skin analysis. You'll get a detailed result about your skin type and product suggestions to help you reach your skin goals!