What Are Free Radicals And Why Are They Bad For The Skin


If you are one to be reading up on skincare or following your favorite skincare junkie blogger, you've more than likely heard the term "Free Radicals."  It gets tossed around quite a bit in the beauty community about how they are bad for the skin and can lead to premature aging—for example, breaking down our skin's collagen, resulting in fine lines and loose, saggy skin. But really, what the heck are Free Radicals and why are they bad for the skin? 

Well, below we have broken down the connection between Free Radicals and how they can harm the skin, more importantly, what you can do about these bad boys! 

Let's Get A Bit Technical About Free Radicals

Ok, we're about to get a little technical, so you will need to put your focus goggles and thinking cap on. The world is made of molecules, and molecules contain atoms. What you need to know about atoms is that they have tiny electrons orbiting them. These electrons follow the buddy system; they are in pairs. And what is the number one rule of the buddy system? To never leave your buddy. 

When electrons adhere to this buddy system everything is normal. But sometimes, the structure of the atoms breaks down and they split up. These molecules with unpaired electrons (with no buddy) are known as Free Radicals. 

These Free Radicals that are missing their buddy don't want to be by themselves, so they attempt to steal another molecule's buddy. Now that molecule they stole from has an unpaired electron (no buddy). Making it highly unstable, so now it needs to find a buddy (and so on and so on), we have a chain reaction of buddy thieves. To sum it up, the buddy robbery ultimately causes a breakdown in the skin's DNA, proteins, and lipids, damaging the “healthy” atoms as they are being robbed of their electrons. The robbery and breakdown eventually appear on the skin in the form of wrinkles, dryness, dullness, hyperpigmentation, age spots, broken blood vessels, and a loss in collagen. 

How Environmental Factors Speed Up The Aging Process 

Free Radicals play a dual role in our body that can be both beneficial and harmful. Our body intentionally creates Free Radicals to neutralize viruses and bacteria. But when there are more Free Radicals present than can be kept in balance, the Free Radicals can start doing damage.  One of the most common ways to speed up the production of Free Radical damage is the exposure to environmental factors, such as UV rays, smoke, smog, pollution, toxins, chemicals, even makeup. Our skin is the largest barrier protecting our body from these environmental factors, and that is where free radicals form in the greatest amounts...on the skin.

This exposure to environmental factors results another bad chain reaction, by creating more free radicals, more oxidative stress (imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body} and more damage to cells, leading to the one thing no one wants, which is premature aging- phew now that was all a mouthful.

Great, so how can I stop this premature aging?

Keep reading to find out.

How To Protect Your Skin From Free Radical Damage

While there’s not much you can do about environmental factors. You can take protective approaches to help guard your skin from Free Radicals. That’s where antioxidants come into play, to keep Free Radicals in check. If there is a magic potion that can delay skin aging and protect it from further damage, it is antioxidants. Not only are they super anti-inflammatory, but they’re also excellent at neutralizing, repairing, and preventing Free Radical damage. Suppose that wasn't enough to win you over. In that case, antioxidants are like little war shields protecting electrons from getting their buddy stolen and working with an electron who no longer has a buddy by stabilizing them, so they become less reactive limiting that horrible chain reaction. 

How To Incorporate Antioxidants Into Your Skincare Routine

Now that you understand how antioxidants can serve as a line of defense against Free Radical damage, it's time to start guarding your skin. But what antioxidants should you be looking for? 

The easiest way to get your dose of antioxidants is to look for skincare products enriched with them, like the Ginjo Skincare Line. We believe that the true power and strength of beauty is in the use of clean ingredients. We combine traditional Korean hanbang ingredients like ginseng with other effective antioxidants like polyphenol, which are plant-based vitamins to help your skin fight Free Radical damage and recover from oxidative stress.

Common antioxidants found in skincare

  • Vitamin A (Retinol)
  • Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
  • Vitamin C
  • Vitamin E 
  • Resveratrol (usually found in the skin of fruits)
  • Flavonoids (found in green tea)
  • Glutathione (the mother of all antioxidants)

Eat Your Way to Healthy, Glowing Skin 

Another way to get antioxidants is by your diet. Ever hear of the expression you are what you eat? When it comes to the health of your skin, this ever so true. 

Eating various fruits and vegetables daily is the best way to provide your body with what it needs to produce antioxidants and prevent oxidative stress. Some examples of fruits and vegetables include:

  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Oranges
  • Lemons
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Broccoli Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Olives

To Sum It Up

Free radicals and antioxidants are part of your body’s natural and healthy functioning. While you can’t altogether avoid exposure to Free Radicals, you can make lifestyle choices regarding diet, environmental exposures, and effective skincare choices to help minimize their effects. 

And yes, we know that was a lot of information, but important information, so feel free to read it again and again (we won’t tell).

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