Questions Often Asked about Antioxidants:
- Are antioxidants important in skin care?
- Should I be concerned about antoxidants?
- What do antioxidants do?
It is important to know the answers to these questions as they relate to the single greatest cause of premature aging of the skin.
The Problem: Reactive Oxygen Species and Free Radicals
All life needs oxygen but in certain forms, it is a highly reactive molecule that can damage living organisms by producing reactive oxygen species (ROS). Commonly called oxidative stress, it negatively impacts bodily tissues by causing damage to DNA, which can cause mutations and possibly cancer, if not reversed by DNA repair mechanisms. Many studies have shown the negative effects of premature aging of tissues due to ROS damage. Free radicals are ROS that are in an unstable condition, which can harm cells.
It is impossible for us to avoid damage by free radicals.
They have their sources both inside (endogenous) and outside (exogenous) our bodies. Free radicals that develop from processes within our bodies form due to normal aerobic respiration, cell metabolism, hormonal changes, stress (physical and mental), and inflammation. Exogenous generated free radicals are created by environmental factors such as pollution, sunlight, types of radiation, smoking, and alcohol. Our internal antioxidant systems are not perfect, so as we age, cell parts damaged by oxidation accumulate.
Free Radicals and Skin Aging
Our skin is especially subject to free radical damage due to its role as our protector from the external environment. Free radicals are involved in many adverse biological reactions that lead to degenerative processes in skin. The main exogenous source of free radical creation in skin is UV radiation, which greatly contributes to photo-aging, wrinkling, pigmentation issues, and, even worse, malignant melanoma. Reduction of UV radiation can be accomplished with various sunscreen products, but these do not totally prevent free radical damage, and obviously, do not address dealing with free radicals from causes other than sunlight exposure. Thus, there is great need for additional means to neutralize free radicals in the skin.
Nature has provided us with a solution – antioxidants.
What are Antioxidants and How Do They Work?
An antioxidant is a unique type of molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Oxidation reactions, stimulated by many of the factors mentioned above, produce free radicals. In turn, these radicals can start chain reactions. When the chain reaction occurs in a cell, it can cause damage or death to the cell. Antioxidants terminate these chain reactions by “quenching” the free radicals through “capture,” and changing them into a harmless molecule. Some antioxidants are produced within the human body such as Alpha Lipoic Acid, and Coenzyme Q10. Each of these has special functions in quenching and repairing ROS damage. With age our production of these substances within the body slows down and supplementation is often necessary.
**All Stemology treatment products contain both Alpha Lipoic Acid and COQ10 (Ubiquinone) in their formulation to supplement the body’s production.
Plant Antioxidants – Nature’s Gift
Over vast ages of survival adaptation, plants have developed complex antioxidant protective systems to help them survive and even thrive in harsh external environments; thus, many botanical sources are rich in antioxidant protection. Usually, the harsher the environment a plant thrives in, the more powerful the antioxidants it has intrinsically developed over time. We make use of these powerful plants to provide sources of ascorbic acid (vitamin C), polyphenolic acids, tocopherols (vitamin E), carotenoids, and flavonoids. These are the general categories for the various types of plant antioxidants. Fortunately though, antioxidants developed by plants are effective across genetic boundaries and are usable as antioxidants for the human body, as well. When these botanical antioxidants are orally consumed, those that survive the digestive process are delivered to all tissues, but our skin only receives a very small amount. For skin health, applying antioxidants topically is the most effective. Our skin receives more antioxidants when they are delivered directly, provided that good techniques are employed in the topical formulation to effectively protect and absorb the antioxidants into the skin.
Protecting our Skin with Antioxidants
The very best free radical protection is provided when a full spectrum of antioxidant components is included in the topical application. This should include Ubiquinone (COQ10), Alpha Lipoic Acid, plus a rich suite of ingredients that provide sources of ascorbic acid, polyphenolic acids, tocopherols, carotenoids, and flavonoids. Learning from the plant world, Stemology Skin Science™ has developed a complex of antioxidants designed to provide a full spectrum of protection for the skin that includes the above-mentioned suite of ingredients. Stemology treatment serums, moisturizers, and especially Enviro/Expose all contain this robust antioxidant protection.