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Reduce Free Radical Damage To Your Skin Explained

Skin damage is one of the most obvious signs of aging, and is often caused by excess exposure to free radicals. Learn how to minimize your exposure to free radicals, and ways to fight them.

Okay, so you haven't yet heard of free radicals? They have been linked to ill health; specifically, the initial stages of cancer, various illnesses and the visual effects of aging. Scientists are conducting ongoing research on the subject. For a better understanding of how free radicals work, the effect upon our bodies, and how to limit the damage, read on

So, all you folks wishing to know how free radicals affect the skin, take note, they are beyond doubt harmful. They initiate the deterioration of the skin's structural support and decrease the elasticity, resilience, and suppleness of skin. Free-radicals are frequently identified as the cause of wrinkles, liver spots and poor skin condition.

Damage due to free-radicals isn't something that is easily explained, as it happens on an atomic level. When oxygen molecules are involved in chemical reactions, they usually lose one of their electrons. Similarly, these molecules referred to as free-radicals, deprive neighboring molecules of electrons. This will set off the chain reaction known as free-radical damage.

Almost any chemical or gas containing oxygen, can cause free radical damage. To name a few: carbon monoxide, hydrogen peroxide, exhaust fumes.

If you brown your food, you should be aware that this is a common source of free radical damage that you could easily reduce. It's best to steam cook food whenever practical. Healthy oils can be adversely affected by frying. Small servings of olive oil and butter are less liable to oxidate.

Too much sunlight should be avoided. A sensible preventive measure is to use a good quality sun-block product whenever you're outside, even if the sun doesn't seem particularly strong.

What other ways do free-radicals damage the skin?


Radiation may cause the build up of free-radicals. Free radicals in the body may be increased with over-exposure to X-rays and gamma rays.

Cigarette Smoking

Smoking, aside from being a health hazard to the lungs, has been known to cause dry, unhealthy skin, and pale, unhealthy complexion. Cigarettes are known to promote free-radicals in the body, worsening the adverse effects tobacco brings. Even if you are not a smoker, being in a smoky atmosphere still exposes you to increased free radical damage. Stop, think for a moment, about the harmful effect your smoking has on others, particularly children.

Inorganic Particles

There are also other substances that cause free-radical damage. These include asbestos, quartz, silica.


Although ozone is not a free-radical, it is a very powerful oxidizing agent. The two unpaired electrons in ozone, are liable to degrade under certain circumstances. This suggests that free-radicals can be formed when this decomposition happens.

It sounds a gloomy picture, and of course you're wondering, don't we all need oxygen to live? Yes, we do. Fortunately, we have antioxidants to help us survive!


Antioxidants help prevent free-radical damage by preventing the free-radical molecules from interacting with other molecules, therefore stunting the chain reaction of the process. Other ingredients are vitamins A, C and E; flavonoids; superoxide dismutase; beta carotene; selenium; glutathione; and zinc. The good news is that these antioxidants exist bountifully in the human body and the plant world.

So how do free radicals affect your skin? Research is beginning to establish that wrinkles and other age related skin factors are directly linked to free-radical damage, the effect of which is not wholly controlled by antioxidants. If you do not obtain enough antioxidants from your diet and other sources, your skin cells could break down and lose their ability to function well. Some scientists think that antioxidants are the answer to halting, delaying and possibly even reversing free-radical damage, and that increased presence of antioxidants in the body will play a part in slowing down free-radical damage.

To increase antioxidants in your body the most obvious solution is to increase your intake of antioxidants from dietary sources (fruit - particularly colored berries, and green vegetables). Another answer is to regularly use a reputable antioxidant supplement. A good selection is always close at hand.

A lesser known solution - best practiced alongside good diet and supplementation - is to use topical applications of products containing antioxidant compounds to increase your defense against free-radical damage.

For consumers worried about free radical damage, most beauty products currently specify an antioxidant formula. Some are better than others, depending on the quantity and quality of the active ingredients. Obviously you need to be patient since it isn't practical to expect results immediately.

It is however, still a good idea to apply skin products containing antioxidants as the benefits of these compounds are well-known. My recommendation is to apply an anti-oxidant compound, to the skin, and leave this on overnight, which will avoid conflict with sun screen products or make-up. A warm shower or bath will open the pores of the skin, and increase the rate of absorption.

Although science has yet to put the finishing touches on the studies regarding free-radicals, there is enough evidence to suggest that antioxidants can benefit the body.

An increase in your personal intake of antioxidants will not produce an instant and visible difference in your skin condition. However, it will diminish the damage caused by free-radicalsFree Web Content, and may even reverse them.

Article Tags: Free Radical Damage, Free Radical, Radical Damage, Free Radicals, Free-radical Damage

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Download your free about skin care at: This was written by Joy Healey, who gained her qualification as a nutritionist in 2000 at the well-respected Institute for Optimum Nutrition in London.

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