What Are Free Radical, and How Antioxidants Help to Fight Them
Antioxidants are active substances included in many cosmetics products. They are body protectors and fighters of free radicals. But why does our body need protection? And what is free radical?
Oxygen does an excellent job for our bodies. It comes with air and transforms glucose from food into energy through a process we call oxidation. In this process, oxygen splits into atoms with unpaired electrons. These atoms are free radicals, and they are natural waste products of metabolism. Free radicals tend to steal electrons from other molecules and those molecules, in turn, become free radicals, and this chain reaction produces more and more free radicals. To some extent, this is a normal metabolic process, and all the waste products excreted from the body.
The problem starts when the body is not able to eliminate all the waste products for some reason. One of the reasons may be a lack of antioxidants. In this case, free radicals start destroying proteins, healthy cells, and DNA. This is called oxidative stress. The body gets intoxicated, and different diseases can develop. Cancer is the most dangerous of them.
Oxidative Stress Theory of Aging
Developing cancer is an example of the pathological activity of free radicals, but there is another, kind of “normal” process caused by free radicals. It is aging. According to the free radical theory of aging, we age because of the accumulation of waste products and damage to healthy cells. Besides free radicals developed in our body, we also consume free radicals with food, from polluted air, and from different chemicals, which makes the oxidative stress even harder.
The Role of Antioxidants in Skin Care
Antioxidants stop chain reactions caused by free radicals. They give their electrons to free radicals but do not turn into them. Because of these properties, antioxidants are used in medicine, in diets, and skincare products.
Almost all care products contain antioxidants in one or another form. They ease the burden caused by environmental factors, improper diet, harmful habits, and natural aging.
In beauty products, the most frequently used antioxidants:
- Vitamins C
- Vitamin E
- Retinoids (Retinol, Retinyl palmitate, retinoic acid, and others derivatives of vitamin C)
- Coenzyme Q-10
- Green tea
- Aloe vera
- Grape seeds