One of the main causes of aging skin and deterioration is the damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed, these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction in the cell membrane which can cause cells to function poorly or die. To prevent free radical damage, the body has a natural defense system of antioxidants. Antioxidants are molecules which can effectively interact with free radicals to terminate their chain reaction before damage occurs. However, as we age our skin loses its ability to produce those antioxidants and unfortunately, there is no way of escaping free radicals. Free radicals are in the air we breath, the foods we eat... they are even in sunlight and pollution- basically, they are everywhere. If we don't get enough antioxidant protection, free radical damage wreaks havoc- causing collagen to break down, DNA in our cells to mutate, impairing the skins ability to heal and so on.
So how do you effectively fight free radicals as you age?Eating foods rich in antioxidants is one way to ward them off. Another is to apply antioxidants directly on the skin, where they can quickly absorb to repair and strengthen skin cells.
Here is a list of powerful antioxidants that help fight free radicals, repair cell damage and slow the aging process:
Native to South America and considered to be a potent "super fruit"; these little blue berries are loaded with powerful antioxidants. Cold pressing acai berries extracts the oil, which is added to many skin care products to give them anti-aging properties
Commonly called a "universal antioxidant" because its both water and fat-soluble, which makes it penetrate skin-membranes to protect from free radicals, and help keep the body and skin strong. Alpha-Lipolic acid is found in many skin care products and helps diminish fine lines and give skin a healthy, radiant glow
Studies have shown that caffeine can be safely applied to the skin to help fight free radicals and repair cell damage
As you age your body slows down its production of collagen and elastin, which keeps skin healthy and strong. Evidence suggests the antioxidants found in vitamin c helps stimulate the production of collagen while minimizing fine lines, wrinkles and scars
CoEnzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10)
Your body naturally produces CoQ-10 to neutralize free radicals in cells; however, as you age the levels of CoQ-10 go down, thus making skin cells more susceptible to free radical damage. CoQ-10 can be taken in pill form or applied to skin with products containing it
Alpha-hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
This group of natural-based acids are commonly found in skin care products and is known for its ability to remove dead skin cells and reveal a smoother, more radiant complexion
Contains a high amount of salicylic acid which helps treat acne and problematic skin. It penetrates pores quickly and reduces blackheads/whiteheads without irritating skin. The natural salicylic acid found in meadowsweet also helps exfoliate skin and reduce the signs of aging
Like antioxidants, the polyphenols found in green tea fight free radicals. Drinking green tea, or using skin care products that contain it can help reduce and prevent damage caused by free radicals and slow the signs of aging
Information on antioxidants and free radical damage comes from a number of scientific journals including: Free Radical Research, Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Oxidative Stress and Aging, Journal of Anti-Aging Medicine, Photochemicals and Photobiological Sciences