What are free radicals

Free Radicals: What Are They & 3 Benefits Of Antioxidants

A wise man once said that “Whatever you find free, might not be good for you” and so is the case of free radicals.

Free radicals are basically troublemakers who can cause harm to your skin through something known as oxidative stress. The concept is quite difficult to fathom so we are making it easy for you to understand, with some information that is backed by science. We will talk about what they are, where they come from, how they cause harm and their link to bringing about visible signs of aging.

Let us take a brief look at what free radicals actually are and how to fight against them with a daily skincare routine, which includes antioxidants.


Free Radicals: What Is That?

Unstable atoms that can cause massive damage to the body cells are known as “free radicals”. 

They are considered to be “unstable” as they contain oxygen molecules with an unpaired electron. This vacant space allows the molecule to interact with other molecules, freely, which brings about bad news for your skin.

A long chain of chemical reactions is brought about by these molecules, which is scientifically known as “oxidation”. This oxidative process causes damage in gigantic proportions and elevates visible signs of aging. The free radicals damage the DNA and cell proteins by modifying their chemical integrity.

Free Radical Causes Oxidative Stress

Where Do Free Radicals Come From?

Free radicals are produced by the body through natural processes.

In several scenarios, they’re introduced from an external source like smoking tobacco, pollutants, toxins and especially sun exposure.


What Do They Do To Your Body?

When the number of free radicals goes over the top, they set off a process known as oxidative stress. This process of oxidation sets off chemical reactions that damage the cells in the skin, and this is where the oxidation-fighting elements come in.

Your body can naturally fight off this oxidative stress with the help of its antioxidant defences, but when the capacity of producing antioxidants becomes too much to handle, due to the high quantity of free radicals, it causes massive damage as your body cannot keep up with those external changes.

As an example, you can consider the situation of sun exposure.

Being exposed to too much UV radiation can cause your natural system to be overwhelmed. It can provoke these unstable elements and trigger stress, which is essential, in the process of photoaging. This is a major reason why you need to keep sunscreen handy, at all times.


How Do They Affect Your Skin?

The overpowering of your body with free radicals and triggering of oxidation can impact several layers of the skin. The damage is visibly presented as fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, uneven skin tone, an increase in dark spots & the sagging of skin. These things, when you put it simply, are the visible signs of skin aging.

Oxidative stress can cause:

The Outer Layer (Epidermis)

-To lose its moisture, due to a rapid increase in TEWL (transepidermal water loss).

-To have an uneven skin tone, due to irregular distribution of melanin

-To look dull, as the cell turnover rate slows down.

-To be thinned.

The Deepest Layer (Dermis)

-To weaken in strength & structure, due to the slowing down of collagen, elastin & proteoglycan synthesis. 

-To lose its elasticity and firmness

So, what does the damage look like?

The damage caused due to such stress makes the skin look thinner, rougher and dull with the popping up of fine lines and wrinkles.


How Can You Minimise The Oxidation of Skin?

The word, antioxidant, must sound familiar to you, but do you have any information about what it does?
As per the name, their job helps to block oxidative stress.

Antioxidants are molecules that donate its electron to a free radical and still remain stable. This, in turn, stabilizes the free radical to neutralize, delay and prevent future damage caused by the molecules.

The body produces it by its own, which repairs the damage caused by the sun, pollution and something as trivial as cigarette smoke, but their effectivity hits a block when you age. 

How Do Antioxidants Fight Free Radicals In The Skin?

When you apply antioxidants to your skin, it helps to boost your body’s oxidation fighting power to assist in the neutralization of free radicals.

Let us take a short trip into the world of science!!

Direct antioxidants capture free radicals before they can cause any harm, whereas indirect antioxidants repair those molecules that were previously damaged by free radicals.

Vitamin C can be considered to be a direct antioxidant while melatonin is an indirect one.

Some of the benefits bestowed by antioxidants are:

Free Radical
Helps to counter the damage caused by radiation

The keratinocytes present in the topmost layer of the skin can muster up high concentrations of Vitamin C. This along with Vitamin E prevents damage caused due to UV radiation.

Helps to repair & correct the visible signs of skin aging
Free Radical

Collagen and elastin synthesis is affected by oxidative stress which causes fine lines and wrinkles.

When antioxidants are applied topically, they assist in slowing down the process of protein breakdown in the skin.

Unify & brighten the skin tone
Helps to unify & brighten the skin tone

Antioxidants play a major role to provide relief from skin discolouration. When you apply antioxidants topically, it helps to brighten the skin and even the skin tone.

You can also combine the antioxidants with your favourite sunscreen to combat dark spots.


How Can I Integrate Antioxidants In Skincare?

When you build up your daily skincare routine, you need to select those products that can provide you with all-around antioxidant care. You can inculcate products that can provide oxidation fighting capacity in your daytime skincare routine, your night skincare routine or even both!!

The best way to attain the perfect level of antioxidation is through a serum. Serums fall in the “treatment” step of your skincare routine and are specifically designed to work in a targeted area while providing optimum hydration.

The best way to work around it is to opt for a sunscreen with antioxidants, which would help you boost your skin’s defences while providing the perfect protection.


Some Of The Best Antioxidants For The Skin

Some of the essential antioxidants that you need to look for while choosing your products are:

Vitamin C

Vitamin C

The benefits offered by Vitamin C-rich products go way beyond the blessings bestowed by a glass of orange juice!!
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that neutralizes free radicals and protects the skin against oxidative stress. Additionally, it aids in the promotion of healthy skin.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3

This vitamin is better known as Niacinamide and is the ingredient that you would usually see in skincare products. Vitamin B3 or Niacinamide can be considered to be a “jack of all trades” as it manages hyperpigmentation, and redness and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

The benefits offered by antioxidants are crucial and aplenty, but you also need to remember that topping everything up with sunscreen is absolutely necessary.