Antioxidants have long been known to possess anti aging properties because they protect the skin from free radical damage, which causes oxidative stress. What is free radical damage? What is oxidative stress, and how can we protect our skin from its adverse effects? Keep reading to find out all about the way your skin can benefit from antioxidants, both in your diet and in your skin care regimen.
Free Radical Damage
Free radicals cause damage to the cells in your body, causing loss of function and shortening their life spans. They are unstable molecules that are produced inside the body and exist externally as well. Cigarette smoke, air pollution, fried foods, and certain drugs are examples of externally generated free radicals. Exercise, metabolism and inflammation are sources of internally generated ones. Ideally, our bodies have enough natural antioxidants derived from our diets to fight off free radical damage. Eating a diet filled with fresh fruit and vegetables can help antioxidant production in the body. But as we age, our natural ability to produce antioxidants becomes weaker, and free radical damage takes a toll on our cells, causing various diseases including cancer, asthma, diabetes, dementia, Parkinson’s disease and macular degeneration, among others.
Oxidative stress occurs when our bodies are exposed to harmful chemicals and pollutants. It causes inflammation, which leads to many types of disease, including different types of neurological disorders and heart disease. Picture an apple slice that’s been left out on the counter too long. Eventually, it turns brown and looks, well, older. This is a result of oxidation. Similarly, skin that has been ravaged by free radicals becomes withered and discolored.
How to Protect Your Skin
One of the ways free radical damage manifests itself is in premature aging of the skin, causing wrinkles, dullness, loss of elasticity and age spots. Collagen production is slowed, which causes the skin to sag. Antioxidants found in various topical serums can help to combat signs of aging. Many MDSUN products include antioxidants, particularly what goop beauty editor Jean Godfrey-June claims to be the most potent antioxidant: vitamin C. According to the Micronutrient Center at Oregon State University,
“Topical application of vitamin C, alone or in combination with other compounds, may result in greater photoprotection than oral supplementation because of the more direct route of administration. In one mouse study, topical application of ascorbic acid delayed the effects of chronic high-dose UVB exposure on the skin, including a reduction in skin wrinkling and the development of skin tumors (13). In pig models, topical application of vitamin C reduced the number of sunburned cells, decreased erythema response, and reduced DNA damage induced by UVA exposure.”
Simply put, applying a vitamin C serum to the face and neck every morning under sunscreen will brighten and revitalize dull, tired skin. Vitamin C boosts collagen levels, evens out skin tone and, as a powerful antioxidant, reduces environmental damage from air pollution and sun exposure. The powerhouse ingredient in vitamin C is ascorbic acid, which is in many MDSUN products, including the Wrinkle Smoothener, Super Brightening Mask, and Revitalizing Cleanser, to name a few. These products were carefully formulated by Dr. George Sun (a plastic surgeon in southern California) and tested to provide maximum effectiveness and potency, while simultaneously avoiding harsh ingredients that lead to irritation and inflammation.
Skin Care Dos and Don’ts
Just in case you skimmed this article (don’t worry, we’re all guilty of skimming from time to time!), here is a list of ways to protect and maintain healthy skin, as well as what to avoid:
- Use a gentle cleanser that addresses your skin care needs
- Treat yourself to a professional skin care treatment once every few months
- Implement a skin care routine
- Apply an antioxidant serum in the morning, beneath your sunscreen
- Use a glycolic or salicylic acid serum at night to address fine lines and skin texture
- Eat a balanced diet
- Keep your stress levels low
- Exercise regularly
- Limit your exposure to the sun
- Wear SPF of 30 or higher
- Use a charcoal grill
- Eat fried food and a lot of red meat
- Go to sleep with your makeup on
- Exercise obsessively
- Over exfoliate or over cleanse with astringent products- these will dry out/irritate your skin
Antioxidants and Your Health
Some of the most powerful antioxidants are:
- Uric Acid
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Smoking, an unhealthy diet, and stress can all adversely affect the oxidation levels in your body. To achieve optimal health, fill your plate with colorful fruits and vegetables. Some examples of antioxidant-rich foods include: cranberries, blueberries, artichokes, prunes, raspberries, apples, cherries, kidney beans, and sweet potatoes. Eat whole grains and fish. Drink plenty of water. Green tea offers antioxidants, too. Meditate to combat stress. Get regular exercise. Protect your skin with an antioxidant serum, and always wear SPF. These simple habits will add up to a healthier life, and more beautiful skin.