It’s almost impossible to talk about men’s skincare these days without talking about free radicals too. For those who slept their way through chemistry at school, free radicals are molecules that occur naturally in the body as a result of metabolic processes. Unfortunately, these molecules can be damaging to the cells if the body’s natural defences are reduced or if there are just too many and the cells are swamped.
When the body is healthy it can cope quite well with free radicals and has mechanisms in place to ensure destruction is controlled and that they can’t wreak havoc. If, however, additional free radicals are introduced either internally or externally then it’s quite a different matter.
Additional free radicals can find their way into the body from pollution, either breathed in or absorbed through the skin from chemical additives or sprays in foodstuffs and water, through alcohol, smoking and Ultra Violet radiation. Fried food can produce free radicals and they can even be produced as a by-product of the body’s reaction to stress.
Serious illness can occur when the cells are overloaded and the cell protection breaks down. The first sign of free radical damage is often seen in the skin with the appearance of wrinkles, sagging, discoloration and uneven texture.
So How Can You Protect Yourself And Your Skin From Free Radical Damage?
Firstly you need to look closely at your diet. Certain foods contain substances called anti-oxidants which effectively soak up free radicals and prevent them from doing their worst.
The main Anti-oxidants are in vitamins A, C and E all found in fresh fruit, vegetables and whole foods. Beta-carotene is also very important and this can be found in orange foods such as carrots, peppers and apricots.
Secondly if you smoke STOP or at least cut down, try to limit your alcohol intake and drink plenty of filtered water. Since stress can trigger free radical production it’s also important to keep anxiety under control. If stress is a problem for you look at exercise, meditation or yoga as way in which to lower anxiety levels and improve sleep. Then think about protecting your skin from pollution and UV radiation from sunlight.
Free Radicals and the Sun
Prolonged sun exposure doesn’t just leave your skin burnt to a crisp, it releases harmful free radicals too. Guard against this by using a moisturiser containing free radical protection in the form of a sun filter. In the summer, wear sun protection factor 15 and if you work outside use factor 30 whenever you can. On holiday in the sun try to use a factor 20 – 30, even if you tan easily. To help repair and rejuvenate damaged skin cells, try moisturisers and sun creams that contain the anti-oxidant vitamins A and E and essential fatty acids. These will help to strengthen cell membranes and neutralize the free radicals triggered by sun exposure. By taking these small measures to protect yourself from free radical damage, you can keep healthier for longer and look better too! Still wish you’d been snoozing during those chemistry classes now?
To prevent free radicals damage, make sure to use adequate sun protection…