What Are Free Radicals, Anyway?
Have you heard the term free radicals? This is a medical and chemical term that has made its rounds in skincare spheres, often in conjunction with “antioxidants”. In this blog, we’re going to take a look at some common questions surrounding free radicals, including what are free radicals, how do free radicals affect your skin, and where do free radicals come from. Let’s dive right in.
So, What Are Free Radicals?
You might know that free radicals are “bad,” but why? What are free radicals and what makes them so harmful to your skin health, to begin with?
Free radicals are basically super-unstable molecules, and they can come in any form. The only thing that separates a free radical from a regular molecule is the fact that it’s holding on – very loosely – to an extra electron (or more). Free radicals are not a natural way for molecules to exist, and they’re constantly trying to pawn off that extra electron to anything they come into contact with.
These unstable molecules often gained this extra electron from environmental factors – often in response to tobacco smoke and UV light. Furthermore, free radicals don’t last very long; their extra electron is lost very easily and can actually damage DNA in cells around it.
Where Do Free Radicals Come From?
The biggest source of free radicals comes from pollution. This probably doesn’t surprise you, especially if you live in a big city. But, even if you don’t live in a big city, you still might want to protect yourself from free radicals. Free radicals can also come from normal doses of radiation we receive from the “background” every day – and other everyday sources, like cigarette smoke!
Free radicals are everywhere, not just in the big cities, so it makes sense to protect our skin— that first layer of our bodily defense system— as much as possible, right?
How Do Free Radicals Affect Your Skin?
And there’s a pretty good reason to protect the skin from free radicals, too. Free radicals can cause some pretty serious damage to our skin’s infrastructure over time. Just take a look at some of the long-term effects of free radicals:
- Persistent inflammation
- Damaged skin barrier
- Premature aging
- Skin discoloration
- And even cancer
More Pollution Concerns: Particulate Matter
Another concern when discussing pollution and tobacco smoke is particulate matter – tiny little pieces of harmful metals, liquids, and abrasive dust that can sneak into our skin (past the skin barrier!). These tiny attackers can have their own set of effects on the skin, and you can read more about this in the following blog:
Learn More: Particulate Matter and How it Affects Your Skin
Antioxidants: Neutralizing Free Radicals in the Skin
Here at Rejuvaskin, we know how difficult it can be to find skincare products that not only work well but also are gentle on the skin. We also know that many skincare aficionados are always on the lookout for skincare products with fewer ingredients – and ingredients they can easily identify. For these reasons, we’ve developed our Anti-Pollution Facial Cleanser; it’s a gentle, antioxidant-packed, easy way to wash away the free radicals and particulate matter of the day.
Don’t forget to follow up your cleansing routine with gentle retinoids and a moisturizer that actually pulls its own weight!