What are Anti-Oxidants & Free-radicals?
In the skincare and wellbeing industry antioxidants and freeradcials are words that are used a lot. The latest antioxidant packed serum or free radical scavenger, you know antioxidants are in your skincare routine and that fruit and vegetables are packed with them so they must be the good guys but what are they actually doing? do I need then in my life and how do I avoid the freeradicals? Let me shed a little bit of light on this essential topic for you to help you decide you totally do ned them in your life, now more than ever!
Starting with free radicals, the bad guys. To give a little unavoidable scientific insight, free radicals are unstable molecules, unbalanced cells that are desperately searching for their missing part (otherwise known as an electron) to balance themselves and restore balance. They do this in the body by attaching themselves to the nearest healthy cell and stealing an electron from them, but rather than balancing itself it destabilizes the healthy victim cell, creating a second free radical and so the process continues, transforming healthy cells into unbalanced free radicals, resulting in damaged tissue, premature ageing and other ongoing side effects.
Where do Free Radicals come from?
It’s worth mentioning at this point, that the body does need some free radicals in order to aid in fighting off bacteria and other pathogens, however and excessive amount is something to be avoided, which is a tricky task when they exist in our everyday environment in such abundance. They are in the air we breathe, they are naturally occurring in the body, they are present in many materials in our everyday surroundings as well as in the usual offenders – pollution, UV light, smoking.
What Damage do Free Radicals Cause?
Their handiwork is destructive and apparent in everyday objects, not just humans, they cause the deterioration of plastics, the fading of paintwork or artworks, they are responsible for many age related illnesses, contributing towards cancers, heart attacks and strokes as well as generally speeding the ageing process internally and externally.
How can we Reduce or Avoid them?
Whilst precautions can be taken to avoid some of the free radicals in our environment, minimizing the existence of them in our body is more difficult. Every time we breathe our body is reacting with oxygen in the air, creating cell energy. As a result of this essential life process free radicals are naturally produced, which in turn cause oxidative damage within our bodies. Oxidative damage or stress is basically where an imbalance exists between the number of free radicals and the body’s ability to counterbalance or detoxify their effects by neutralizing them with enough antioxidants. This is where the magical anti-oxidants come in to play.
What are Anti-Oxidants?
I like to see antioxidants as the calm meditator cells. They are stable cells with the ability to donate a calming electron to the unstable crazy free radicals, a little like a chill pill to rebalance and calm down the unstable free radicals while also maintaining their own composure and balance. Our body naturally produces antioxidants, its ability to do so, like with many things, relates to our genetic makeup and lifestyle. The food we eat and skincare ingredients high in antioxidants provide a vital daily source, supporting cells all over the body in the calming of unstable free radicals and preventing cell damage, premature ageing and restoring health and balance.
Where do we get Anti-Oxidants from?
To counterbalance the freeradicals and support the body in its process of creating antioxidants it need support to do this from other sources on a daily basis. This is most commonly achieved through diet and what we put on our skin. There is not one “holy grail” antioxidant, each has its own strengths and when a combined approach is adopted, that’s when you get the best results.
Anti-oxidant rich foods are ones that contain high levels of Vitamins (A, C, E, folic acid, and beta-carotene are key), with plants having the highest level of natural antioxidants due to the fact they are exposed to UV light as they grow. Unlike humans, plants have a natural in built ability to protect themselves with naturally occurring antioxidants called Phytochemicals – which we benefit from by consuming them. Most natural whole foods, such as whole grains, fruits, and vegetables, contain phytochemicals, whereas processed or refined foods contain little to none.
If your diet is struggling to provide the support you need, then this is where supplements can really benefit you. Considering modern day farming methods and pesticides, our diet isn’t as anti-oxidant rich as it once was, combined with the higher levels of pollution in our daily lifestyles- we now live with more free-radical damage impacting our bodies than ever before.
Topical skincare products are also key in combating free radical damage. You will notice that anti-oxidants are widely used within the skincare industry for increased result and age prevention. Often blended from various plant, flower and herb sources for their different skin benefiting actions, Vitamin C being the most commonly used. Because all plants have some antioxidant content it’s about harnessing those with the highest amount and how the cream or serum is formulated to deliver the antioxidants into the skin rather than just sitting on the skin.
Some of my favourite skin loving antioxidants in your skincare
Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Resveratrol, Vitamin A, B Vitamins, niacinamide, Green Tea – so look for those in the ingredients of your products for reassurance that you are giving your skin the best protection you can.
If you think about your food intake and skin care routine as an opportunity to give yourself the best tools to do the best job and age well, it becomes a much more powerful and positive stance. So go forth, protect, nourish and detoxify yourself into a balanced and nourished version of yourself, you will see the results inside and out.
Abigail’s top antioxidant serums
All these recommendations are blended serums, so they contain a variety of potent antioxidants, each with a slightly different focus. All of these are paraben free, synthetic colourant and fragrance free.
lightweight gel texture suitable for all skin types and ages including those prone to breakouts and sensitive skins. Plant based powerhouse of actives that don’t irritate. Astaxanthin a potent antioxidant with anti-inflammatory benefits L-Glutahtione which helps detoxify cells and Sythne-6 which is a wrinkle filler. it can have a slightly tacky texture if you apply to much, but this is a firm favourite of my clients, especially great layered under a day cream and or SPF in warm weather. Niacinamide, chlorella, grape seed extract to name a few other key antioxidants.
This hydrating serum is slightly like a light weight cream, all about firming actives, hydration and collagen boosting the peptides. A great nourishing antioxidant serum for normal to dry and ageing skins, packed with 10 different antioxidants including Vitamin E, resveratrol, biopeptides. Cosmedix has a complex liposome delivery system that allows product to penetrate to where its most active and have to biggest impact so a little goes a long way. Not my first choice for an acne skin but definitely a really great choice for mature.
A focus on vitamin C but blended with Vitamins A, so it does have Retinyl palmitate in, and Vitamin E for hydration which helps get the best out of Vitamin C. Along with lots of plant antioxidants, green tea, and so much more. Not my first choice for a really sensitive skin and if your pregnant because of the Vitamin A, its not for you. Its a light weight gel, goes a long way and quite slippery before it absorbs.
A blended serum with Coenzyme Q10, Vitamin E and Vitamin C all geared up to nourish, inhibit pigment production, fight off free radicals from pollution and UV damage. this is all about giving the skins the building blocks for collagen and elastin, which as a
knock on help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Coenzyme Q10 is all about giving cells their energy, we have it naturally in the body but this depletes with age. The blend of C and E in this super boost each other. Absorbs easily and totally not greasy, good for all skin types.
A totally unique product, you add to your other skincare, so its not a use on its own its a use with, and only a small amount is required to be effective. Clinically proven to focus on pollutants indoors and outside, including heavy metals which is quite unique
for its antioxidant and detoxification benefits. A huge blend of ingredients including Co-Enzyme Q10, Vitamins B3, C & E some are some micro encapsulated for a better absorption of actives. The vitamin C in this best works without another vitamin C serum, so when choosing what to blend this with avoid other Vitamin C serums, everything else is all good. This has a real focus for all aspects of waging including pigment.