Free Radical Protection
Free radicals are associated with slow cell turnover, which causes the appearance of aging. They are unstable molecules that have an uneven amount of electrons in their outer ring, so they look for an electron elsewhere in order to stabilize. When the electrons pick up atoms indiscriminately, they become secondary free radicals, setting up a chain reaction which causes damage on a cellular level. While it's a normal process in everyone's body, free radicals speed up the appearance of aging.
Environmental pollutants and sun exposure cause additional free radical damage to skin cells. The best line of defense is to eat a healthy diet abundant with fruits and vegetables, limit your exposure to tobacco and sun, and moderate your alcohol intake.
Antioxidants inhibit the activity of free radicals and therefore help slow the aging process. Extracted from roots, stems, leaves, fruits and vegetables, antioxidants can be taken internally or applied externally via cosmetic and skin care products. The most common antioxidant compounds are polyphenols, flavonoids, flavonols, pycnogenols and carotenoids.
Round out your skin care routine with any combination of the following antioxidants:
Coenzyme Q10: Also known as CoQ10 or ubiquinone, this powerful antioxidant is found in every cell of the body. CoQ10 decreases as we age and is depleted during sun exposure. It supports collagen and elastin production and works to scavenge free radicals. It is used to smooth the skin, increase elasticity and reduce wrinkles.
Nano-Lipobelle H EQ10 (nano form of Coenzyme Q10): Quite simply, this is Coenzyme Q10 particles that have been ground and reduced in size in order to permeate more levels of skin. Its action is to absorb free radicals as it permeates the layers, assisting in the creation of collagen and elastin. The results are the same as Coenzyme Q10, but are believed to be even more effective.
Phytessence Wakame Kelp Extract: This kelp is a sea algae indigenous to the Sea of Japan and commonly eaten by the Japanese people. It's rich in vitamins, proteins and of course antioxidants. Phyessence wakame ensures the protection of hyaluronic acid in cells, performing the vital function of binding collagen and elastin fibers together. The result is skin that maintains a smoother, more flexible and firmer appearance.
Grape Seed Oil: Helping to maintain skin and joint function, it assists in letting Vitamin C into the cells and upholding immune function. Grape seed oil is rich in other antioxidants like Vitamins C and E and is lauded for its astringent properties and its ability to tone and tighten the skin. Derived from crushed grape seeds, you can find the seeds in exfoliators and scrubs, while the oil is easily incorporated into other products.
Honey: While antioxidants are abundant in all varieties of honey, darker honey has been found to have higher levels than lighter ones. Manuka honey, for instance, is organic, un-pasteurized honey collected from New Zealand's Tea Tree Bush and is used frequently as a beauty ingredient. Honey from all sources contains some ability to stimulate cell growth, accelerate the healing process, and possess antioxidant properties.
Lycopene: Part of the beta-carotene family, Lycopene is a pigment found in red fruits and vegetables. The most highly concentrated source is found in tomatoes. It's considered an extremely potent antioxidant and is believed to protect the skin, reduce damage and improve skin texture.
Cynergy TK: This is a form of keratin, a fibrous protein that's a component in our skin, hair and nails. Skin is comprised of collagen, elastin and keratin. Keratin is responsible for facilitating the regeneration of skin cells. It also improves the skin's ability to hold moisture and is a factor in boosting collagen production. Sheep's wool is a primary resource and New Zealand is a significant producer of Cynergy TK.
Vitamins A, C & E: All reduce oxidative stress in the body by neutralizing free radicals.
Vitamin A: Also referred to retinol, it helps maintain elasticity.
Vitamin C: Proven to stimulate the synthesis of collagen, it also helps to soften fine lines, scars and wrinkles.
Vitamin E: It is very moisturizing and promotes healing, protection and nourishment of the skin.
Alpha Lipoic Acid: It is known as the "universal antioxidant" because it is both water and oil soluble. Since it's able to penetrate all parts of the cell, it can more thoroughly protect against free radical damage. While considered a very potent and versatile antioxidant, studies are still being conducted regarding its effect on skin. Use it for fine lines or to create a healthy glow.
Tea: Green, black and even white teas contain polyphenols, a type of antioxidant that seeks out cell-damaging free radicals in the body. They are picked from the Camellia sinesis plant at various growth stages and are processed differently to achieve the variations in color and flavor. Color difference indicates the type of antioxidants that each contains. Products containing high amounts of these antioxidants help to soothe, renew and rejuvenate skin cells.
Olive Leaf Extract: Derived from the leaf of the olive tree, this contains antioxidant compounds that assist the regeneration of connective tissue. With noteworthy healing, soothing and moisturizing properties, it is often used in anti-aging preparation because of its abundance of antioxidant compounds.
Maracuja Passion Fruit Extract: While passion fruit grows in the frost-free zones of many countries, the Maracuja passion fruit is indigenous to Brazil. Its vines bear exotic flowers that are easily recognized by their ring (corona) of purple, spike-like petals surrounding three stamens. Early Spanish explorers believed the flower resembled the crown of thorns worn by Jesus. Hence, the name "passion" flower is meant to symbolize the passion of Christ. Its oval shaped fruit contains antioxidants and Vitamins A and C. It has free radical scavenging properties and contains essential fatty acids that have soft, soothing properties.
Babassu: This is a species of palm that grows along the Brazilian Amazon forest, in Guyana and in northern Mexico. Its oil is praised for its emollient properties, but doesn't feel oily on the skin. Babassu contains a considerable amount of palmitate, a form of Vitamin A.
SPF is an acronym for Sun Protection Factor. The Sun Protection Factor in products can range from 2-60, referring to its level of ability to block the sun's rays. Many variables should be considered when determining the level that is right for you. They include duration of exposure, time of day, season, activities you're doing, geographic location/altitude, prescription drugs that could leave you more susceptible to exposure, and your own skin's predisposition.
Zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are both considered to be physical sunscreens or sunblocks, as they protect against both UVA and UVB radiation. UVA and UVB represent different waves on the electromagnetic spectrum of ultraviolet (UV) light. While UVB can cause sunburn and damage to the eyes, UVA can cause long term damage to the skin.
Look for products that offer protection from both UVA and UVB rays. UVB rays are especially intense during the summer and UVA rays are present year round.
There are two basic types of sunscreens/sunblocks. Depending on their ingredients, they work to either reflect or absorb the sun's rays. Inorganic particles like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide create a physical barrier to block out the rays, whereas organic particles absorb UV rays and release the energy as heat.
Both sunblock and sunscreen are similar in use, but are slightly different in their protective abilities. Sunblock is more opaque and therefore protects more from UVA/UVB and radiation. Sunscreen tends to be more transparent and therefore needs to be reapplied more often. For this reason, it is recommended to choose a higher SPF since its ingredients break down more rapidly than sunblock.
It's important to protect your face from the sun's harmful rays on a daily basis. Sun exposure is reflected and intensified by the pavement, snow, water and sand. Higher SPF is recommended for higher elevations and locations closer to the equator. It is also recommended to wear an SPF of 15 or higher regardless of your activity or weather condition.
Increase the SPF when your sun exposure peaks, such as in the summer or during vacations. Apply sunscreen/sunblock according to its directions. Most directions indicate applying approximately one ounce of sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before sun exposure. Make sure to reapply at least every two hours throughout your exposure, especially after perspiring, toweling or swimming.
Be particularly cautious between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. Limit your exposure outside, wear sunscreen, and spend time indoors or in the shade under an umbrella/structure.
Even if you're not spending significant time outside, it's important to wear products with SPF to protect your skin. Choose a day moisturizer with an SPF in order to keep your skin moisturized while providing sun protection. This will help protect you from sun damage that ultimately leads to premature aging. As a general rule, it is recommended that your day moisturizer have at least 15-20 SPF. If you spend more time outdoors, consider a moisturizer with 30+ SPF.