We hear about anti-oxidants and their anti-aging benefits all the time. What is an anti-oxidant? Why are they anti-aging? How do they work?
Two "ingredients" in your skin that keep it firm, bouncy, plump and smooth are collagen and elastin. Both are plentiful in young skin. As the clock ticks, our bodies produce less and less of both. With less collagen and elastin, the skin loses its firmness and becomes weaker. Aside from age, another enemy of collagen and elastin is free radicals. What is a free radical? It's an oxygen molecule that has mutated and gone radical, gone crazy, gone off the deep end. Oxygen that is external or internal can mutate into a crazy free radical. Your skin is getting attacked from all angles by these bad rads. What makes an oxygen molecule go crazy? It sniffs pollution. It gets too much sun. It can't take stress and boom, a normal oxygen cell goes nuts and mutates into a free radical.
Free radicals have a voracious appetite. You and I like to munch on Hershey Kisses and Doritos. Free radicals like to munch on collagen and elastin. Lovely. As we age we are producing less collage and elastin and what little we do produce is being munched away by free radicals.
|People munch on Doritos (good) ~ Free radicals much on collagen and elastin (bad)|
|Anti-oxidant = Knight in Shining Armour|
There's zillions of anti-oxidants. Each anti-oxidant is a bit different and each fights different types of free radicals. They are all good, though! If possible, you want to get a variety of anti-oxidants on your skin. Some free radical damage causes wrinkles, some causes age spots, some causes sagging, some causes loss of barrier function which leads to sensitive, easily irritated skin, some free radicals get the skin so angry that it becomes inflamed at the cellular level. You want as many different possible anti-oxidants to fight all the different free radicals and the damage they cause.
You might be wondering which anti-oxidant is best? It depends on your issue. Some anti-oxidants are better at fighting free radicals that cause age spots. Some anti-oxidants are better at fighting free radicals that cause inflammation. Chances are you want to fight all free radical damage. Some anti-oxidants make the skin so strong that they can actually rebuild collagen and elastin. In other words, they can reverse the signs of aging.
The above is very simplistic but I hope it helps you better understand why free radicals are bad and why anti-oxidants are good. Some popular and potent anti-oxidants in skincare are Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Green Tea, Resveratrol, Coffee Berry, CoQ10, Acai, Niacinamide, Grape Seed, and Vitamin A (more popularly known as retinol in over the counter products and Retin A the stronger, by prescription only version).
It is preferable to use anti-oxidants both night and day but especially in your morning routine. Most free radicals are created from UVA/UVB light, namely the sun but UVA rays also are in artificial, or indoor, lighting. It makes sense you need more anti-oxidants during the day. Some anti-oxidants also strenthen the skin and rebuild collagen and elastin so it's a good idea to use them in your night time routine as well.
I hope you found this very simplistic explanation helpful.
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