The word “antioxidant” is thrown around pretty freely in the health and beauty world, but similarly to hyaluronic acid, not many people know what antioxidants are and what they do. We know we need them, but many of us aren’t sure why they’re so important. In order to understand antioxidants, first we have to unravel free radicals.
Take a journey with us back to high school biology. Programmed cell death is a term you may remember. Our cells are constantly turning over. And when it’s time for a cell to die, it’s parts are neatly packaged up and can harmlessly leave the body. But when this process is compromised by external factors like radiation (sun), environmental toxins or chemical irritants (some of which can be found in skincare), dying cells don’t have enough time to be correctly packaged and free radicals literally explode onto the scene.
So what then is a free radical? All molecules in our body, like proteins and DNA, are made in part by electrons, highly energetic particles. Electrons usually work in pairs to keep their energy level balanced and their excitement level in check. But rapid cell death can break apart these electron pairs, leaving the resulting free radicals (i.e., a single electron) to search for another partner.
DNA is particularly susceptible to free radical damage. Free radicals can literally strip electrons from healthy DNA breaking our genes (our genetic blueprint) into bits and pieces. And when our immune system takes note of damage to our genetic code, it goes into hyperdrive to clean up the mess. It is part of our body’s check and balance system that ensures we never biologically build from faulty plans. The result of the diligent cleanup is the process known as inflammation – the redness, swelling and pain we sometimes notice in the skin. It goes without saying, but free radicals can cause serious damage to our body’s health.
Enter the antioxidant. Antioxidants are our body’s cleaning crew. They come in and sweep up free radicals (by actually donating an electron to its lonely yet excited friend), protecting our DNA and keeping inflammation in check. Vitamin C is the perfect example of an antioxidant that keeps our body healthy by neutralizing free radicals. As we age, it’s imperative that our bodies have antioxidants at the ready. It is also imperative that the products we use to care for our skin do not actually contain chemical irritants that can actual cause free radicals in the first place. So be it radiation (like from the sun), chemically laden skincare, or just time itself, our bodies have to contend with the emergence of free radicals from everyday life. And antioxidants are the best way to keep us balanced, healthy and strong.
Learn how an antioxidant-rich skincare product could help your skin: C Advance anti-againg intensive serum.