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A Very Brief Primer On Antioxidants

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The tl;dr

Technically speaking, an antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules.

What they are and how they help you and your skin.

Generally speaking, we know antioxidants are good things for us. We hear about them when it comes to superfoods, we seen it on skincare products, and even the word has the ring of a scientific savior. But really, when it comes to skincare, what are they?

Technically speaking, an antioxidant is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Hold that thought, because to understand antioxidants, we first have to discuss another class of molecules – free radicals. To describe this, we’re going back to the school cafeteria.

Let’s say a whole bunch of your cells are sitting down to have lunch together. Everyone has their own lunch. Everyone has the portion they need, the food they want, and everyone is happy.

Then along come free radicals. Free radicals are like career bullies. They’re unstable. They don’t have enough of their own food to eat, and when they come into a room, they start stealing apples and PB&J’s left and right.

Not only can free radicals cause some serious injury in the process of this theft, they also destabilize their target who then instinctively starts stealing from a neighbor to compensate. In short order, the whole cafeteria delves into chaos.

This is the scene is going on in with your cells. And whatever damage is left behind in that cafeteria equals signs of aging you end up seeing on the surface of the skin.

It turns out there are a lot of free radicals out there, coming naturally from our digestion and metabolic processes but also from environmental factors like pollution, UV rays, lack of sleep, high-glycemic foods, cigarette smoke, and other sources.

That’s where antioxidants come in. They “quench” free radicals, stopping the chain of events before it can happen. They are peace-keeping powerhouses that help prevent damage from happening in the first place and help the body repair damage that’s already been done.

When it comes to skincare, we put antioxidants right up there after sun protection (#1) as the next item to get in our routine to ensure we age well and to see your skin heal from any condition or imbalance. You can think of giving your skin antioxidants like giving it it’s vitamins (a number of vitamins are, in fact, antioxidants). Along with good sleep, healthy diet, they’re an important part of a well-rounded, healthy skincare routine.

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