Beauty Dictionary: A for Antioxidants

When you leave a cut apple or avocado out long enough, you might notice the browning which is the result of oxidation. Every day, our skin is subjected to attack from free radicals which causes oxidation in the form of discolouration, fine lines and wrinkles.

Free radicals can occur naturally in the body as part of metabolism, when cells are exposed to ultraviolet lights, or in our environment as pollution, city smog or cigarette smoke. Basically, free radicals are highly unstable molecules which in a bid to stabilise themselves, would extract electrons from cells, causing cell walls to weaken. Over time, this will debilitate skin’s structure and lead to the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.

While a complete defense against skin ageing may sound difficult, it is possible to delay the process of oxidation. Antioxidants, present in food and skincare, cancels out free radicals by giving up electrons readily, sparing skin cells from the same fate.

Using the example of browning fruits, applying a salt solution or lemon juice can defend the fruit’s flesh against oxidation – a similar idea of what antioxidants can do for our skin (although the chemical reaction is very much different and applying salty water and lemon juice would not yield the same results for your skin).

There are a wide variety of skincare ingredients which contain antioxidants, ranging from vitamin C, vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, green tea extract, beta carotene to idebenone. It is a good idea to include skincare products which contains antioxidants in the formula as part of your anti-ageing skincare routine, no matter what your age.

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