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  • Writer's picturePat Browne

WHAT IS OXIDATIVE STRESS AND HOW DO YOU FIGHT IT

Oxidative stress refers to an imbalance of potentially toxic free radicals and the antioxidants that can neutralize them.


WHAT IS OXIDATIVE STRESS?

Normal cell functioning in the body produces free radicals. It’s normal and only becomes a problem when there are too many free radicals leading to oxidative stress. Externally, we may be exposed to excess free radicals through foods or alcohol, smoking, and even elements in the environment like sun exposure, pollution, radiation, or chemicals found in cleaning solutions and pesticides or lack of sleep. Research has found that the experience of mental stress in our day-to-day lives can also lead to increased oxidative stress over time (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1876613/#:~:text=It%20is%20thus%20suggested%20that,diseases%20(5%2C9)).


SKIN AGING IS DIRECTLY LINKED TO FREE RADICALS

Skin oxidation or Oxidative Stress is one of the most important triggering factors of skin aging and other skin problems. Preventing and counteracting oxidative stress with the use of antioxidants should be paramount for all of us.

MECHANISM OF OXIDATIVE STRESS

In general terms, oxidative stress occurs when a type of molecule in the body, called Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS), cannot be controlled by the body’s natural antioxidants. To understand why ROS can be damaging for your body, you need to know what exactly ROS and antioxidants are and how they work.

REACTIVE OXIGEN SPECIES (ROS)

There are different types of ROS, and not all of them are damaging. Some of them are generated by the organism to work as signaling messengers involved in cell differentiation, fight potential microbial invasions, and take part in other essential functions. However, their production is also triggered by external stimuli such as sun exposure, pollution, cigarettes, and others. Exposure to these factors can lead to an excess of Reactive Oxygen Species.


ROS are unstable molecules, derived from molecular oxygen, that can easily react with other molecules in a cell and turn into Free Radicals. They are the ones that attack our cells and tissues.


The chaos created by Free Radicals or ROS, is controlled by antioxidants. Antioxidants stop Free Radical destruction. Our bodies naturally produce Antioxidants to combat Free Radicals. Unfortunately, as we age fewer antioxidants are naturally produced by the body, and external stressors promote free radical formation. These two factors induce Oxidative Stress.


OXIDATIVE STRESS CAUSES MOST OF THE SIGNS OF AGING

In terms of skin aging, oxidative stress promotes the formation of wrinkles and fine lines, loss of skin firmness, elasticity and glow, dehydration, etc. The result is unhealthy-looking and aged skin.


MAIN EXTERNAL STRESSORS THAT TRIGGER OXIDATIVE STRESS

There are many factors that cause oxidative stress in the body. We’ve listed some of the most common below:

1. UV-EXPOSURE

UV-photons from sunlight and sunbeds interact with atomic oxygen and significantly promote the formation of ROS and free radicals.

2. TOBACCO SMOKE

One of the reasons why cigarettes are so dangerous is that tobacco smoke significantly promotes chemical reactions with oxygen, significantly increasing the number of free radicals. It also explains why smoking accelerates skin aging so much.

3. SLEEP DEPRIVATION

Your body produces natural antioxidants when you sleep. Therefore, poor sleep promotes a decrease in the number of antioxidants.

4. POLLUTION

It has been proven that traffic-related pollution, coal dust, and combustion residues, in general, carry Environmentally Persistent Free Radicals (EPFRs), in other words, nanoparticles in the polluted air that induce Oxidative Stress.

5. ALCOHOL CONSUMPTION

Drinking one or two glasses of wine seems to be fine, but more than that has not so funny consequences. Besides dehydrating your skin and swelling your blood vessels, ethanol (alcohol) promotes the formation of free radicals, prompting skin aging, liver diseases, and so many other problems.

6. CHEMICAL PRODUCTS

Pesticides, drug abuse, or even contact with harsh household products can induce free radical spread. It is recommended to thoroughly remove pesticides from fruits and vegetables with water (you can also use some drops of vinegar with water, but do not use soaps nor detergent) and protect yourself with gloves and masks when using chemical compounds.

HOW TO PREVENT OR COUNTERACT OXIDATIVE STRESS IN SKIN


· Always use a good sunscreen

Even in winter! The sun’s rays are always present. The most damaging (UVA – Think A is for aging) rays are here as long as there is sunlight. This is the sun’s longest reaching ray and will pass through clouds, glass (windows) and even through loose weave clothing.

· Protect your skin from pollution

Some skin moisturizers, such as INNO-EPIGEN® Urban Day Cream (https://www.innoaesthetics.ca/urban-day-cream), create an invisible shield that protects your skin from pollutive particles.

· Eat foods rich in antioxidants

  • Blueberries

  • Strawberries

  • Kale

  • Beans

  • Spinach

  • Green Tea

  • …and Dark Chocolate!

· Aesthetic therapies to combat Oxidative Stress

Some aesthetic treatments are designed to reduce the formation of free radicals and promote the formation of antioxidants. Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) and Glutathione, for instance, are powerful antioxidant active ingredients that have shown outstanding results.


· Skincare products to provide your skin with antioxidants

You can find moisturizers and serums with antioxidant ingredients that effectively help to prevent Oxidative Stress.

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