There’s a lot of talk about free radicals in the skin care world, but what, exactly, are these molecules and why is getting rid of them such a hot topic for improving your skin and overall health? Here is a guide to help you better understand free radicals and what you can do to prevent and even reverse their many harmful effects on your complexion.
What Are Free Radicals?
All atoms contain an outer ring of electrons. When this ring is full and all electrons are paired, the atom is considered stable. When there is an unpaired electron in this ring, the atom is unstable. There are three ways that this atom can then stabilize itself: 1) by bonding with another atom through a chemical reaction, 2) by donating an electron to another atom, or 3) by stealing an electron from another atom . Free radicals are atoms or molecules that contain an unpaired electron, making them unstable and highly reactive. Such atoms form in response to a variety of factors–including UV exposure, air pollution, inflammation, and tobacco use–which can weaken the bonds between two electron-sharing atoms via a process called oxidization, thus creating a free radical . What makes free radicals so problematic is that as they try to stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from other atoms, they damage important molecules, impairing their function. They also may create an ongoing chain of new free radicals that need to find an electron from somewhere else. This chain reaction is what makes free radicals so damaging at the cellular level. Some of the most notable detrimental effects that free radicals can have on the skin include accelerated signs of aging and melanoma and other skin cancers.
How to Prevent and Neutralize Free Radicals
Free radicals can be very damaging if left to continue this pattern of reactions. The good news is that there are ways to stop this process and even reverse some of the damage that has already been caused. Antioxidants are compounds that are sufficiently stable to freely donate an electron to these harmful free radical atoms without becoming unstable themselves. The result is a neutralized free radical and an end to the damaging chain reaction that it had previously been a part of.
Therefore, eating a diet rich in antioxidants and using topical skin care products that contain ingredients with antioxidant properties can help. It’s important to neutralize and disarm free radicals that could otherwise lead to premature lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, age spots, and even skin cancer [2,3]. Many people are familiar with some of the better-known antioxidants like vitamins C and E, which can be beneficial for your skin and body. However, the powerful antioxidant properties of amino acids are also becoming more and more well-known and sought-after in skin care.
When combined in the proper formulation, amino acids can possess strong antioxidant qualities, making them excellent skin care ingredients to help improve the appearance of premature aging, and even reverse existing signs of free radical damage on the skin. The key is, however, to use amino acid skin care products that contain multiple (ideally all 20 included in the genetic code) free-form, bioavailable amino acids in order to reap the amazing antioxidant benefits that these ingredients offer.
But the benefits of amino acids in skin care do not stop there. These powerful compounds can also help to rebalance the skin’s surface pH, promote proper hydration and barrier function, aid in the wound healing process, and improve the look and feel of a dull, lackluster complexion and virtually all signs of aging.
In addition to using expertly-formulated amino acid skin care products, wearing sunscreen each and every day, rain or shine, is a key to preventing the formation of free radicals in the first place. You can apply AminoGenesis products directly before applying sunscreen, which should be the last step in your skin care routine.