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What are free radicals? Here’s everything you need to know

You’re probably familiar with the term “free radicals.” It’s one of those skincare buzzwords you come across when you’re researching and shopping for new products. You might have a general idea of what free radicals are—but nailing down the exact definition, or better yet, figuring out what it means for your skin may be difficult. There’s a lot of science involved, which can be confusing. Luckily, we’re here to break it down for you so you can better understand your skin and how to care for it. 

Free radicals come from UV rays, pollution, cigarette smoke, stress, and other sources. They’re molecules that have lost one of their electrons, which makes them highly unstable. To make up for this, free radicals scavenge and steal electrons from healthy molecules in your skin to try to stabilize themselves. When electrons are taken away from molecules, it causes damage to our skin's DNA code that can cause new cells to grow incorrectly, accelerating the aging process. And as one free radical steals its missing electron from a healthy molecule, another free radical is created, creating a domino effect. Once this chain reaction starts, your skin cells are at risk of oxidative stress, or damage.

In small numbers, free radicals are okay and don’t do much harm. They actually exist naturally in our bodies as the result of normal metabolic processes. But in excess, they can wreak havoc on the skin. Too many free radicals can attack DNA and collagen and cause wrinkles. They can also lead to dark spots, dryness, and dullness, effectively weakening and aging your skin. 

As tough as free radicals can be, they can be neutralized fairly easily. You can help stop free radicals in their tracks with antioxidants. Antioxidants stabilize free radicals because they are able to give up electrons to these needy little guys without becoming free radicals themselves. This is because antioxidants don’t need all of their electrons to be stable. Once the free radicals are stabilized, they become regular molecules, and end their warfare on your skin.

Since antioxidants help fight off free radicals and their negative effects, it’s important to incorporate them into your daily skincare routine. Not only do they neutralize free radicals, but they can also help heal your skin from the damage free radicals may have already caused. For brightening dark spots and evening skin tone, antioxidants like glutathione and melatonin make an excellent combination. Poria cocos is another powerful antioxidant that reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by preventing the loss of collagen. And vitamin E, turmeric, and sandalwood are perfect antioxidants for regenerating your skin. 

However, by their very nature, antioxidants are vulnerable to oxidation when they’re exposed to the air, which renders them useless. This characteristic makes antioxidants difficult to deliver effectively in skincare products. Good Silicon+® technology protects antioxidants from oxidative damage, allowing them to be delivered in an active form where they’re needed. In addition, slow-release delivery through the gradual dissolving of Silicon particles ensures ingredients are present over a long period of time, maximizing their effectiveness.

There’s no doubt about it: free radicals can be a pain. But with powerful antioxidants and the right products, you can prevent further damage and take control of your skin. 

Visit our ingredients page to see how our products solve for different skin issues. Looking for more skincare explanations? Tweet us at @GSBLaboratories.