Skincare 101: What’s the Deal with Free Radicals?

Skincare 101: What’s the Deal with Free Radicals? Today, almost any skincare product fights free radicals to neutralise their harmful effects on the skin. However, few consumers know what free radicals are and why you need to fight them. Let’s figure it out together.

In chemistry, the term “free radicals” refers to atoms, molecules, or ions that have at least one unpaired outermost electron. Due to these unpaired electrons, free radicals are highly chemically reactive; they tend to spontaneously react with other free radicals, metals, or molecular oxygen.

Such reactions often result in the formation of new atoms, molecules, or ions with unpaired electrons, which, in turn, actively participate in new chemical reactions. The process can be repeated over and over again, resulting in more and more free radicals.

The human body is continuously producing free radicals because they are an integral part of metabolism. For example, free radicals are produced during the biosynthesis of the prostaglandins, as well as as a result of mitochondrial and phagocytic activity. Normally, your body has a number of defence mechanisms to minimise the damage incurred by free radicals and to repair damage that occurs.

However, sometimes the body produces more free radicals than its defence mechanisms are able to neutralise, which results in a chemical imbalance and the so-called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when your body is unable to repair the damage caused by free radicals. It causes damage of all cell components, including lipids, proteins and even DNA. If the damage is too extensive, the affected cell “dies”.

Depending on the degree of oxidative stress, the internal contents of a “dying” cell may have time to break down to non-toxic and safe decay products, or they may penetrate the damaged cell membrane and cause damage to neighbouring cells.

Excessive oxidative stress is dangerous for the whole body, but when it comes to skincare, the focus is put on its harmful effects on the skin. If skin cells come in contact with too many free radicals, they get damaged, which results in the common signs of premature skin ageing, such as a dull complexion, fine lines, wrinkles, and age spots.

The production of free radicals in the skin is associated with a number of external factors such as ionising radiation (ultraviolet rays) and toxins from the environment, as well as various internal factors.

As we’ve already mentioned above, if your body produces a lot of free radicals for some reason, its protective mechanisms cannot repair all the damage in time. Luckily, the beauty industry has found a way to help your natural defence mechanisms: skincare products with antioxidants help to combat free radicals and protect the skin from oxidative stress.

As their name suggests, antioxidants are chemical compounds that inhibit oxidation and, by extension, reduce the production of free radicals that results from this chemical reaction. They are divided into two big groups: enzymatic and non-enzymatic. Some antioxidants are produced by the body, while others we have to get with food.

As a rule, cosmetics manufacturers use non-enzymatic antioxidants in their products. The most common ones are ascorbic acid (vitamin C), tocopherol (vitamin E), beta carotene (provitamin A), retinol (vitamin A), lycopene, and various polyphenols such as flavonoids, tannins, anthocyanins, and resveratrol. The natural sources of these antioxidants include fruits and berries, some vegetables, tea, coffee, cocoa beans, etc.

Antioxidants slow down chemical reactions that result in the formation of free radicals and therefore help to reduce the negative effects of oxidative stress on the skin. However, it is important to understand that they are unable to repair existing damage. Skincare products with antioxidants help to prevent premature skin ageing; to make the signs of ageing less visible, they also need to contain revitalising and regenerative ingredients.

In our online shop Organic Store, you will find natural and organic skincare products with antioxidants produced by reliable brands. We offer secure and convenient payment methods and deliver internationally to make your online shopping experience as comfortable as possible.

Antioxidant Cosmetics in Our Store


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