Free Radicals: What They Are, And How They Are Prematurely Aging Your Skin

Don’t look now, but you’re surrounded.

Free radicals are all around us, inherently damaging our skin. They’re in our air, our food, and our sunlight — and they attack so quietly and subtly that you won’t even notice it until you discover that your skin is beginning to look more wrinkled and dull.

So what exactly are free radicals, and how can you minimize the damage that they cause?

About Free Radicals

Despite having a cool name, free radicals are vicious. They’re incomplete, and they take that out on all of us.

Basically, free radicals are molecules that are missing electrons from their outer shell, and because they’re missing something, they go looking for it in a very aggressive way.

They search for their “missing piece” by trying to find other atoms or molecules that have the missing piece they want in order for them to feel complete and become stable.

Brunette Woman Thinking

Here’s where the aggression comes in.

When free radicals try to find their missing piece through other atoms and molecules, they bond to them. This process results in oxidative stress which can weaken living cells and tissues — such as the skin.

A good example is fruit that has been left out. We’ve all seen an apple that was white and delicious on the inside quickly turn brown when it’s left out on the counter. This is a classic example of oxidation caused by free radicals.

Now imagine that happening to your skin. Because our skin is our largest organ, it is particularly susceptible to damage from free radicals. Yikes!

Where Are Free Radicals Found?

Unfortunately, free radicals are prevalent. They are in our air, food, some medications, and water, so we can come into contact with them in countless ways.

Free Radicals GraphicImage: hopes.stanford.edu

Free radicals can be found in the following:

  • Air pollution
  • Sunlight
  • Fried foods
  • Some medications
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol
  • Pesticides

As you can see, free radicals are hard to outrun. But we can try our best!

 What To Do About Free Radicals

Even though completely avoiding free radicals is next to impossible, there are some things you can do in order to minimize your exposure:

 Avoid Them Whenever Possible

Do your best to avoid free radical triggers when possible. This can mean several things. It can mean you stop smoking or drinking. It may mean you go into the sun less. It may mean moving to a less polluted area or changing your medication.

Try to determine where free radicals may be entering your life the most, and figure out how you can cut down on those areas.

Get Your Antioxidants

 Antioxidants are chemicals that take away a lot of power from free radicals. How do they do this? They are very sweet: they give the free radicals that missing piece they want — and this reduces their reactivity.

Antioxidants are able to give the free radicals their missing piece without becoming a free radicals themselves. Aren’t antioxidants awesome?

Bowl Of Blueberries - Antioxidants To Fight Free Radicals

They can be found in many topical products and foods, and by using these products and eating these foods every day, you can help stop or delay damage to your cells, because antioxidants basically block free radicals from damaging your cells.

You can check out a list of foods that are high in antioxidants here, and a list of moisturizers that are high in antioxidants here.

Find The Right Ingredients

You can go even deeper than just using products “with antioxidants”. Also look for skin care products that have the following:

  • Turmeric
  • Green tea extract
  • Sea buckthorn
  • Vitamin C
  • Resveratrol
  • Niacinamide
  • Vitamin E
  • Astaxanthin

Protect Yourself Even At Night

If you’re really serious about your protection from free radicals, you should use an antioxidant serum during both the daytime and at night.

Why? Because the serum will help fight damage caused by UV rays and pollution during the day, and at nighttime, it will help fight and repair the ongoing damage that was caused during the day. Basically, antioxidant serum will prevent during the day and repair during the evening as you sleep.

Free Radicals - Woman Looking At Her Skin In The Mirror

Free Radicals: The Bottom Line

Here’s the bottom line: free radicals are everywhere, and they will definitely break our cells down over time. And as we age, we lose our ability to fight the effects of free radicals on our own. This is why we need to take advantage of the help that antioxidants provide, as well as avoiding free radicals when we can. Good luck!