Free Radicals explained...
What is a free radical?
Absolutely everything in our world from human beings to the air around us is made up of molecules and these molecules contain atoms. Every atom has tiny electrons orbiting them and these electrons like to be in pairs – a bit like a buddy system! Most of the time electrons like to stay in their pairs and when they do everything runs like clockwork, however if the structure of the atom becomes unstable and breaks down, it causes the electrons to become unpaired, highly unstable and chemically reactive. It becomes what’s known as a ‘free radical’.
What happens next?
When a free radical forms and becomes unstable, this unstable molecule will try and steal an electron from a neighbouring molecule to stabilize itself. Once it succeeds in pulling another electron from a neighbouring molecule, it leaves its victim short of an electron and has now made this molecule a free radical. That molecule then also takes an electron from another molecule destabilizing it and you end up with a domino effect – an enormous chain of free radicals that quickly wreak havoc on living tissue.
Where do free radicals come from?
Free radicals can sometimes be produced naturally by the body’s immune system to neutralise viruses and bacteria but they can also be created from outside sources like pollution. In fact pollution is a large part of why free radicals are becoming much more prevalent. Many types of pollutants include dust, smog, cigarette smoke, farming pesticides and household cleaners as well as factors like the sun.
What is the impact of free radicals on your skin?
When there is an excessive amount of free radicals in the skin it triggers a process called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when there is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your skin and it can cause damage to skin cells, proteins (like collagen and elastin) and alter the cell DNA (which carries all of the genetic information of the cell) all of which contribute to premature ageing and skin sensitivity – think pigmentation, wrinkles, skin slackening and a dull sallow complexion.
Consider an apple that has had a bite taken out of it. If you leave it exposed to oxygen without its protective skin it will eventually turn brown. Our skin experiences a similar process but over a longer period of time.
How can I stop free radicals from harming the skin?
Electrons always want to be part of a pair so they can stay safe and balanced and luckily there are certain compounds which happen to contain an extra electron that they can donate to a free radical without making themselves unstable. These compounds are called antioxidants and these are the greatest armour for your skin to fight free radicals!!
What is the best source of antioxidants for the skin?
In the last decade the cosmetics industry has really woken up to the value of antioxidants formulated into skincare products. The best source of anti-oxidants come from naturally occurring Vitamins like A, C and E as well as natural ingredients like Green Tea, and Ginger Root Extract and many natural fruits like Pomegranate Extract, Grapeseed Extract and Kakadu Plum.
Why not try these Gatineau products to protect from external aggressors?