If you’ve shopped for skincare recently, you’ve likely seen the phrase ‘will protect your skin from free radicals’ pop up in product descriptions. Countless formulas are shouting about this claim, but what exactly are free radicals, and why should we be protecting our skin against them? We’ll be answering just that here. In this short, 1-minute read, we’ll be demystifying the topic and answering all of your questions.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are unstable atoms (molecules) with unpaired electrons. Because they’re missing atoms they try to steal other electrons from healthy cells, which causes damage to the body.
Where do free radicals come from?
Our bodies naturally produce free radicals, especially when exercising, digesting food to produce energy or because of inflammation. Free radicals can also come from outside sources like tobacco smoke, x-rays, sun exposure, air pollution, and industrial chemicals.
How do free radicals damage skin?
Our body has a defence mechanism against free radicals; however, damage can occur when there are too many free radicals (oxidative stress) because our body can’t neutralise them. This damage appears on the skin as premature ageing, including fine lines and wrinkles, dullness, uneven skin tone, and pigmentation.
How can we protect ourselves from free radicals?
Antioxidants! Antioxidants offset the effects of free radicals; they’re in the food we eat (blueberries, kale, dark chocolate), dietary supplements, and many skincare products. The way they work is by scavenging or decomposing free radicals.