Antioxidant Skincare: What Are Free Radicals? How Do They Affect Your Skin?

As skincare has become popular, it would be no surprise if you hear about free radicals. It may be in online articles or information about skin products, antioxidant properties and ‘free radicals’ have become a buzz term among skincare enthusiasts.

Based on science, free radicals are any molecular species capable of independent existence that contains an unpaired electron in an atomic orbital. They function as a donor of electrons to other molecules and vice versa. It may be difficult to understand what free radicals are, but, in layman’s terms, it is as simple as unpaired electrons or electrons without a partner, hence calling them “free” radicals.

But how does it affect your skin? Why is it so important to be aware of what it is?

What Are Free Radicals?

As mentioned in the first part of this article, free radicals are unpaired electrons. These unpaired molecules may be harmful to the body. They are naturally produced by the body, though they can be increased by outdoor sources like pollution, dust, smoke, smog, and household cleaners.

Free radicals are also known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), molecules that have highly reactive oxygen. A human’s body relies on oxygen, but, normally, these molecules split paired oxygen molecules into two single atoms with unpaired electrons. Think of it as losing a pair of your socks. You then choose to use a different sock from another pair, which leaves you with another pair-less sock. Free radicals work similarly. These unpaired electrons scavenge around the body looking for another electron to form another pair, which is why they are described as reactive. As they do this, they cause damage to cell membranes, proteins, and DNA.

Aging is linked to the increase of free radicals. As people age, the body doesn’t have enough ability to fight the growth of free radicals. This results in more oxidative stress, the imbalance of systemic manifestation of reactive oxygen, and more damaged cells, which eventually leads to degenerative processes and aging.

Your environment can also trigger skin-damaging free radicals. People who live in places where dirt and pollution are more likely to develop the problem. The reason is that pollution is always present, increasing the amount of oxidative stress. Pollutants such as cigarette smoke, metal ions, radiation, and household cleaners or toxic chemicals can worsen the effects of free radicals. Aside from pollutants, an unhealthy diet and alcohol consumption can also accelerate free radicals.

Why Are Free Radicals Harmful to the Skin?

Free radicals are molecules looking for a pair, and, without a pair, these electrons become chemically unstable. These free radicals that are present in the air search for another electron and find its pair from another atom. Similar to how it does inside your body, it finds another pair from other atoms present in your body.

Oxidized oxygen atoms must take electrons from anywhere that is present within their reach, so they can be balanced. They can be compared to a magnet that can attract other atoms. In some cases, steal electrons from healthy cells.

As a result, it can affect the health of your skin. When free radicals are unable to take an available electron from other atoms, they may start finding their partner from the cells that are available inside your body, causing a breakdown in the DNA of your skin. The damage then appears on the skin, wherein wrinkles, sagging, dryness, dullness, age spots, and broken blood vessels occur.

The best example that most studies show that can relate to this matter is an open apple. If you leave it out open, the apple will turn brown. Similar to what your skin will experience when it’s continuously exposed to free radicals.

How to Protect Your Skin From Free Radicals?

The best way to protect your skin from free radicals is to take antioxidant-rich foods seriously. Overeating unnecessary food, especially food that is high in carbohydrates and sugar, can spike free radicals in your body. When you eat, the body’s mitochondria release more activated oxygen than normal during energy consumption, resulting in higher levels of free radicals and more possibility to gain risk of oxidative stress.

Below is a list of food tips that can guide you to protect your skin and prevent increasing the number of free radicals on your body.

  • Reduce eating processed meats such as sausages and bacon. It contains preservatives, which are high in producing free radicals.
  • Stop reusing cooking fats and oils. Heating fats and oils during cooking oxidize them, generating free radicals.
  • Avoid foods that are rich in refined carbohydrates and sugars. 
  • Eat foods rich in antioxidants. Antioxidants are found in a variety of plants in the form of vitamins A, C, and E, selenium, and certain phytonutrients and polyphenols. 
  • Alcoholic drinks, especially beer, are not only high in calories but also can produce free radicals in the body. 
  • Look for foods with β-carotene, lycopene, and lutein, like broccoli, carrots, collard greens, corn, mango, and tomatoes.
  • Eat more fruits like apples, cherries, grapefruit, kiwi, papaya, red grapes, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries.
  • Spices can not only enhance the flavour of your food, but can also decrease oxidative stress. Examples include ginger, extract, ginkgo, rosemary, and turmeric.
  • Flavonoids also have antioxidant functions. Onions, eggplant, lettuce, turnip greens, endives, pears, red wine, parsley, citrus fruits, berries, cherries, plums, legumes, soybeans, milk, cheese, tofu, and miso are good examples of flavonoid-rich foods.
  • Tea is also a famous drink that has antioxidant properties. 
  • Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals by providing the missing electron. Its purpose is to stabilize free radicals that damage your DNA, cell membranes, and other existing cells in your body.  

    In other words, antioxidants help break a chain reaction that can affect other molecules in the cell and other cells in the body. Yet, it is important to recognize that antioxidants are still chemical properties and not nutritional properties. 

    There are also tons of products that can help fight free radicals. With that said, make sure of the components that shall be present on the product. 

  • Vitamin A (retinol or retinoic acid) is an anti-ageing component, which is not only good at preventing dead skin cells from blocking the pores, but also great for acne-prone skin.
  • Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) is also a powerful anti-inflammatory antioxidant that can ease irritation on the skin and signs of aging.
  • Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is a common component present in most beauty products. Aside from being a free radical scavenger, it also accelerates collagen production and clears dark spots.
  • Vitamin E (tocopherol) has anti-inflammatory properties that work to even out skin tone, improve texture, and brighten skin.
  • Resveratrol has properties that help in skin calming and contributes to reducing redness and even out skin tone.
  • Green tea polyphenols can even out skin tone, clear dark spots, and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
  • Sunekos as a Free Radical Scavenger

    Eating healthy is a great way to sustain healthy skin. However, it takes time before results from your hard work and food discipline start to become noticeable. If you want to see more immediate results, you may opt for alternative solutions to go along with your new diet plan. One of the solutions to fight free radicals are injectable skincare like Sunekos.

    Sunekos is an injectable skincare treatment that can stimulate collagen regeneration, which can lead to less wrinkle formation and slow down skin aging. Its patented formulation consists of six essential amino acids, HY6AA, (Glycine, L-Proline, L-Lysine, L-Alanine, L-Leucine, L-Valine) with Hyaluronic Acid. The combination of these ingredients is clinically proven to help in the regeneration of skin cells and collagen. It is well known that natural Hyaluronic Acid over 1 Mio Dalton (the density of hyaluronic acid) protects fibroblasts and structural elements of the dermis, as a free radical “scavenger.”

    During the aging process, there is a numerical reduction of fibroblast and the skin’s metabolic activities, which consequently leads to a reduction of Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM) component. Sunekos focuses on Extra Cellular Matrix targeting, where it restores the intake of nutrients for fibroblast and stimulates the production of hyaluronic acid, collagen fibers, and elastic fibers, including Type 4 collagen which is the hardest to produce.

    Sunekos achieves the production of the new Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM) by stimulating the cells and increasing the production of collagen and elastin. These are the main building blocks of the matrix. The homeostasis, for example, of the Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM), is vital for the health of all tissues and organs. Sunekos has a unique formula of essential amino acids to boost the production of collagen and elastin. This formula is vital to produce Extra Cellular Matrix (ECM), the stimulation of fibroblast and providing the required nutrients of the skin.

    Now that you are aware of free radicals, always remember to be mindful of what you digest into your body and also be aware of your environment as much as possible.

    This doesn’t mean that you need to create drastic changes in your life to stay away from bad elements. This is only a guide to help you understand how to take care of your skin against free radicals that may potentially affect the health of your skin.