Jun 7th, 2021 ・ Shannon Peter

What are free radicals? And more importantly, why should you care?

What are free radicals? And more importantly, why should you care?

If you’ve ever read a feature on anti-pollution skincare or read up on an antioxidant-rich product, you’ll no doubt have come across the term ‘free radical’. It might sound like a 70s-style Flower Power environmental activist, but in reality, free radicals are atoms found in the environment that can wreak havoc with the skin. Considering pollution levels are on the rise (pollution is a major cause of these irritating atoms), it’s probably about time you got your head around free radicals: what they are, what they do, and why (surprisingly) they’re quite a lot like the Love Island drama you love to hate.

What are free radicals?

Free radicals are unstable atoms that lack an electron in their outer shell. Why is this an issue? Because it makes them extremely unstable, meaning they hunt out other atoms to cling on to causing a process known as oxidative stress.

What are the main causes of free radicals?

There are many ways we become exposed to free radicals – some are avoidable and others are completely unavoidable. The causes span everything from UV light to air pollution, poor diet to smoking and drinking alcohol.

What makes them bad news for the skin?

When free radicals come into contact with the skin, they can deprive cells of vital oxygen that can not only limit the healthy cell regeneration process, it can cause significant skin damage, accelerating the ageing process and ultimately leading to skin cancers.

An easier way to get your head around it? Think of Love Island, Megan recommends. “Imagine the villa is full of complete and happy couples. But then a single person comes in – the free radical – looking to steal someone’s partner. This sets off a chain reaction of imbalance amongst the existing couples, as everyone worries if their connection is secure. In skin terms, this is what we’d call oxidative stress.”

How do you protect skin from free radicals?

Antioxidants! These clever ingredients can lend unstable atoms an extra electron, halting oxidative stress and skin damage. Keeping on the Love Island analogy: antioxidants are like a new single person entering the villa ready to even out the couples and make everyone happy again!

Want unbiased recommendations of antioxidant products suited to your skin, routine and goals? Book in for a Holistic Skin Session today!