You hear me talk a lot about products having antioxidant properties or fighting free radicals. What are these exactly?
Let's start talking about free radicals. Free radicals are the most active compounds in the aging process. They damage DNA, the cellular membrane, and connective tissues of the dermis layer of the skin, especially collagen. Free radicals are caused by factors both inside and outside the body. Internally, free radicals are produced by metabolic reactions. Externally, free radicals can be caused by UV radiation, pesticides, air pollution, drugs, and an unhealthy lifestyle.
While the body does have some natural defense mechanism against free radicals, these defenses decrease with age. This is where the importance of products with antioxidant properties comes in to play. Antioxidants (also referred to as free radical scavengers or anti-free radicals) are components that counteract and block the damaging effects of free radical activity and are typically found in anti-aging cosmetics and after-sun products. These ingredients can be consumed or applied topically and help break down the free radicals into compounds the body has defenses against. They are available in a wide variety of foods, so be sure to include these as part of your normal healthy diet to fight the effects of aging from the inside out.
The information found here was largely found in the book I have been referencing quite a bit lately, Milady's Skin Care and Cosmetic Ingredient Dictionary. Be sure to check it out if you would like to learn more.