Many times, when we hear about creams or treatments, we are told that we should use some products or others because they are antioxidants, or to avoid free radicals in the skin… but what does all this mean?
Free radicals (also called reactive oxygen species) are very reactive oxygen molecules and are produced by processes and reactions that take place in our body.
Oxygen is normally paired (O₂) but these processes sometimes separate the two oxygen atoms with unpaired electrons and these atoms search our body for an electron to form a stable pair. The half-life of these species is of microseconds, but it is enough to react with everything around it and can cause damage to tissues and cell membranes.
When aging is gradual, there is a balance between free radicals and electrons that act as antioxidants but if we are in the situation of having more free radicals than antioxidants (we call this process oxidative stress), these radicals will attack the cell membranes and among these damaged cells are the cells that produce elastin, collagen and hyaluronic acid causing wrinkles, loss of firmness and elasticity, expression lines and dull and tired appearance in young skin.
These free radicals are produced by a series of internal and external factors that make them appear. The main factor is solar radiation. The sun, when we take it moderately is good for our organism since it promotes the synthesis of vitamin D and improves the state of mind, but the overexposure causes that the ultraviolet radiation causes damages in the DNA causing cutaneous premature photoaging and hyperpigmentation, in addition, the contamination in the great cities worsens the effects of the sun in our skin.
Another habit that also affects our skin negatively by the generation of free radicals is smoking. Cigarette smoke has free radicals that our body absorbs and breaks the balance between free radicals – antioxidants.
Finally, diet also has a very important role as there are some foods that make more free radicals in our body such as high-calorie diets, alcohol, fried foods, processed meats, trans fats, hydrogenated oils and lack of antioxidant rich foods.
For these reasons, the sooner we start fighting premature aging of our skin, the more effective it will be in treating as little damage as possible. Always to the extent of our, because we must not forget that aging is a completely natural process, leaving aside the processes that accelerate it.
We should decrease the number of free radicals we have in our body and we can do it both inside and outside. To fight it from the inside, we must take care of our diet and lead a healthy lifestyle. A balanced diet rich in natural antioxidants: green leafy vegetables, raw vegetables, citrus fruits, legumes, oily fish, dairy products, fruits and vegetables will help us in the process as well as reducing the intake of alcohol and drinking lots of water to stay hydrated.
Also quitting smoking and avoiding tobacco will have a positive impact on our skin.
Basic skin care to reduce the damage of free radicals are three basic pillars: cleanliness, hydration, and sun protection factor. Using a good sunscreen and reducing the time of exposure to the sun is essential to keep your skin young and smooth for longer. There are cosmetics with antioxidant ingredients such as vitamins A, C and E or coenzyme Q10 that will neutralize the antioxidants from the outside.
Now that you know what free radicals are and the negative effect they have on our bodies, what steps will you take, or did you already take to counteract their effects as much as possible? Tell us in the comments that we look forward to reading you 😉