Free radicals: we hear a lot about them. With a name so insidious, you may think they need to be brought to the Department of Homeland Security's attention. Yet, while we hear so much about them and how they affect our lives, many people are not exactly sure what they are and how they affect the skin. In this article we hope to help you better understand what a free radical is, how they form, what impact they have on your skin and how best to combat them in your daily life.
In a molecule’s most stable state, every one of its electrons has a pairing. Molecules lose electrons through a process called oxidation. This occurs naturally and can be due to our UV light, pollution or other environmental factors, stress, and diet, among other reasons. In order to stay in its most stable state, a molecule without a pairing begins to aggressively look for an electron somewhere else to complete it. It's kind of like going out to a club with a friend who just broke up with a long-time partner and is out on the prowl and out of control. The molecule in this state, without a stabilized pairing, has now become a free radical.
This free radical will basically do anything to stabilize itself for its own self-preservation. This could mean pulling an electron off of another molecule or bonding to another molecule, which leads to a cascade of free radical formation. When the molecule bonds with another molecule to get that missing electron, it becomes cross-linked.
Cross-linked molecules create a number of undesirable conditions. For instance, cross linking of molecules like DNA has a chance to cause cancer. With skin cancer, for example, ultraviolet rays generate free radicals that are capable of altering not only the DNA but also affect membranes surrounding the skin cells, destroying or altering enzymes and proteins required for cellular metabolism and affecting amino acids. Any and all of these responses can result in the formation of sun-induced skin cancers.
Ambient particulate matter, or APM, is air-borne material that is detrimental, a.k.a. air pollution. A major mechanism by which APM exerts its detrimental effects is through the generation of oxidative stress. These particles can serve as carriers for organic chemicals and metals that are capable of localizing in mitochondria and generating the most common form of free radicals called Reactive Oxygen Species or ROS, which attack macromolecules such as membrane lipids, proteins, and DNA which can lead to skin health disorders.
As you can imagine, free radicals have a great effect on our health and well-being. If not taken care of, these could easily take our body into a downward spiral of disrepair. For example, cross linking of fat and protein molecules leads to wrinkles. When LDL cholesterol gets cross-linked, it can cause plaque to form in arteries.
So what can we do about them? What we need at this stage is some sort of molecule to donate electrons while also not becoming a free radical itself, and stop oxidation. Enter the anti-oxidant! Anti-oxidants are special molecules that are able to donate an electron to a molecule that needs it and not become a free radical themselves in the process. This is why getting your daily dose of anti-oxidant rich nutrients in your skin care is so important.
At the heart of all Repêchage products and treatments is, of course, seaweed. Seaweeds are one of the richest sources of natural anti-oxidants, such as phlorotannins, sulfated polysaccarides, fucosterol and fucoxanthins. Phlorotannins are different from tannins in terrestrial plants, but the physiologic properties are similar. They have anti-oxidant properties, scavenge free radicals, have chelating activity and protect against oxidative stress in cells.
And, anti-oxidant rich skin care is what our Mineral Face Shield - Environmental Protection, new FUSION All Natural Face Moisturizer and All Natural Face and Body Wash are all about – using anti-oxidant rich ingredients that protect against free radicals such as Laminaria digitata seaweed, organic coconut oil, olive oil, and acai berry.
The professional treatment, FUSION Express Bar & Spa Masks, are also rich in antioxidants. These facials have four anti-oxidant packed flavors, perfect for fighting free radical damage. Matcha tea is said to contain at least 10 times the antioxidants of green tea. Chocolate is another great source of polyphenols, flavanols and catechins, all antioxidants. Vanilla has its own free radical fighters with vanillin and vanillic acid, and when paired with the carotenoids in pumpkin, will definitely slow down oxidation of your molecules.
Not to be outdone, our Berryfina mask has the strongest antioxidants in the berry world with its trio of ingredients, strawberry, blueberry and beet root. The powerful polyphenols in strawberry and blueberry alone are among the top sources of antioxidants in commonly eaten foods.
Not lightweight stuff! But that's what we do at Repêchage----apply real science and technology to skin care. We think of it as saving the world from free radicals, one facial at a time.