How oxidative stress affects your skin
If you keep up to date with all the latest beauty and skincare lingo, then you might have heard of oxidative stress. Oxidative stress is caused by our environment here on Earth, whether that’s our own lifestyle choices (like smoking) or the likes of air pollution and UV rays.
The reason why we can live on planet Earth is because we have oxygen. I know, big news, water is wet, bla bla bla.. But did you know that an oxygen-rich environment can also lead to phenomenons like oxidation and the formation of damaging free radicals too?
What is a free radical?
So what is a free radical then? Well, a free radical is an atom, a molecule or an ion that has somehow lost an electron. In case you have forgotten everything from your science classes, I’ve added a little image that might help:
This means an unbalanced number of cells have lost an electron and they are trying to steal it from other cells because there are not enough antioxidants in the body. This sets off a chain reaction of damage and this is what is known as oxidative stress.
Free radicals can be formed naturally in our body when cells burn food or energy or when the body is fighting an infection. Usually, free radicals are not dangerous. It is just a natural bodily process. But when our cells are exposed (and even over-exposed, in this day and age) to pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke or certain chemicals, it creates more free radicals, which can be damaging to our skin and cause premature aging!
If I haven’t lost you yet, you might have noticed that I just talked about antioxidants. So what do they have to do with free radicals? And why do we often mention antioxidants when talking about oxidative stress?
Are antioxidants vitamins?
An antioxidant is a substance that helps remove free radicals by donating an electron in order to re-stabilize it. Examples of antioxidants include vitamins A, C and E. So yes, they are vitamins.
Although antioxidants are produced naturally by the cells in our body. It is also helpful to get antioxidants from other sources, especially when living in highly polluted areas and facing larger numbers of free radicals in the body.
How to reduce oxidative stress
There are 2 types of skin ageing: intrinsic ageing, governed by our own body’s biological clock) ; and extrinsic ageing caused by the sun’s UV radiations, cigarette smoke, poor diet, alcohol consumption, repeated facial expressions, pollution and lack of sleep.
A person’s diet can be a great source of antioxidants and can help promote healthy skin and minimize oxidative stress. Foods such as fruits and vegetables (so cliché right?) provide antioxidants (vitamins and minerals) that the body cannot produce on its own. But it is important to remember that the body requires both free radicals and antioxidants to stay healthy: too many or too little of either may lead to health problems.
So what can you do precisely to help reduce oxidative stress in your bodyand achieve great skin?
1) Eat a more balanced diet. For it to be effective, you need to understand something. Many factors can speed up or slow down the ageing process. When it comes to our eating habits, new studies have shown that high levels of AGEs (advanced glycation end-products) can contribute to a loss of elasticity and changes in the dermis associated with skin ageing. AGEs are formed by a nonenzymatic reaction between reducing sugars (e.g. glucose) and free amino groups (e.g. proteins).
Fats, meat, high & long cooking temperatures and processed foods increase the levels of AGEs whereas carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables, the présence of liquids in cooking and homemade foods reduces AGEs.
- Get enough sleep and plenty of fresh air!
- Avoid alcohol, smoking and over-exposure to sun
- Avoid or reduce exposure to pollution and harsh chemicals. If you live in a city, like us, this is going to be very hard but this is why we created our anti-pollution skincare range: to limit the negative side effects of highly polluted areas on our skin.
- Having a good and gentle skincare routine
These are well-known lifestyle changes. But let’s not lie to each other. Let’s keep it honest and admit we didn’t do much about it over the years. Whether we didn’t have time, it takes too much effort, we’re lazy or all of the above.
So we’re going to try and make it easier on you (and us) by, periodically, sharing concrete steps that you can try at home and that are as less time consuming as possible. I hope you’ll stick with us on this journey of creating our own short & quick but effective routine to fight back environmental stress, oxidative stress and pollution!
Stay safe, stay healthy, stay blessed !
PS: for more information on AGEs, you can check the links below: