Understanding the invisible dark forces of free radicals

You might have heard about free radicals—those pesky, invisible troublemakers that seem to be everywhere. But what exactly are they, and why do they matter for our skin? While they’re often associated with bad news, many people aren’t fully aware of the damage they can cause or how they disrupt our skin’s balance at the cellular level.

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Let’s dive into the battle our skin endures against free radicals and explore how this invisible enemy contributes to the visible signs of ageing.

Here’s a quick recap on our high school chemistry! 

Every object and organism around us is made up of molecules, which in turn are made of atoms. These atoms consist of a nucleus surrounded by pairs of electrons that orbit around them. There’s a basic rule about electrons—they prefer to be in pairs because that’s when they’re most stable and happy.

Now, let’s talk about free radicals. These are atoms, molecules, or ions that have unpaired electrons, which makes them highly unstable. Imagine a party crasher who’s always looking to snatch someone else’s drink—they’re just not satisfied until they’ve taken what they need. That’s what free radicals do: they scavenge for electrons from neighbouring molecules to regain their stability.

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This action is called oxidation, and it doesn’t stop with just one “borrowed” electron. When free radicals steal electrons, they destabilise the molecule they take from, setting off a domino effect that creates more free radicals. This chain reaction can damage cells and tissues, leading to issues like skin ageing and other forms of cellular damage.

Where do free radicals come from?

Our skin can encounter free radicals through a variety of pathways—some internally generated, others coming from external sources. Understanding these pathways can help you take proactive measures to protect your skin.

1) Normal Metabolism

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Free radicals are naturally produced in our bodies as a byproduct of essential biological processes. During cellular respiration and immune responses, small amounts of free radicals are generated. This is normal, and in most cases, our body’s built-in antioxidants are sufficient to neutralise them. However, when these free radicals accumulate, they can start to pose a threat to our skin’s health.

2) Environmental Factors

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The environment plays a significant role in free radical formation. Pollution, radiation, cigarette smoke, pesticides, certain medications, and industrial chemicals can introduce a substantial amount of free radicals into our system. Our natural antioxidant defences can be overwhelmed by this onslaught, leading to oxidative stress, which can damage skin cells and accelerate the ageing process.

3) Inflammatory Processes

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Free radicals are also a byproduct of the body’s immune response to injury or infection. When our immune system responds to a threat, cells like macrophages produce free radicals to combat pathogens. While this process is part of the body’s defence mechanism, chronic inflammation can lead to prolonged exposure to free radicals, potentially causing damage to the surrounding tissues, including the skin.

4) Emotional Stress

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It’s not just physical stress that can lead to free radical production; emotional stress can do the same. When we’re under stress, our bodies produce stress hormones like cortisol, which can trigger inflammatory responses. These responses, in turn, can generate additional free radicals, contributing to a cycle of oxidative stress that affects our skin’s health.

How do free radicals impact our skin? 

1) Oxidative Stress and Collagen Breakdown 

Free radicals, with their unpaired electrons, are highly reactive and tend to interact with other molecules in the skin, including collagen and elastin. These proteins are crucial for maintaining the skin’s firmness, elasticity, and youthful appearance. When free radicals attack them, it leads to oxidative stress, causing these proteins to break down, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, and sagging skin.

2) DNA Damage and Skin Ageing: 

Free radicals can also damage the DNA within skin cells. This type of damage can disrupt normal cell function and lead to premature ageing. Damaged DNA can result in decreased cell turnover, leading to dull skin, uneven tone, and a loss of vitality. In the long term, DNA damage can contribute to more severe skin issues, like skin cancer.

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3) Inflammation and Redness

When free radicals interact with skin cells, they can trigger inflammatory responses. This inflammation can manifest as redness, irritation, or even skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis. The inflammatory process can further contribute to the breakdown of collagen, accelerating the signs of ageing.

4) Weakened Skin Barrier

A significant influx of free radicals can compromise the skin’s natural barrier function. The lipid molecules in the skin barrier can be oxidised, leading to dryness, flakiness, and increased sensitivity. A weakened barrier also makes the skin more susceptible to environmental damage and less capable of retaining moisture.

5) Hyperpigmentation and Dark Spots

Oxidative stress from free radicals can stimulate the overproduction of melanin, leading to dark spots, age spots, or uneven pigmentation. This can create a blotchy or uneven complexion, making the skin appear older.

How to combat free radical damage

Enter antioxidants!

When you hear about antioxidants in skincare, know that they’re the good guys, working to neutralise those rogue free radicals and keep your skin’s molecules in balance. They give back the stolen electrons and help break the vicious cycle of oxidation, protecting your skin from further harm.

Our bodies naturally produce antioxidants like glutathione, CoQ10, and alpha-lipoic acid, which help to neutralise free radicals. However, other essential antioxidants—like vitamins A, C, and E—are often sourced from our diet and skincare products. 

To effectively counter free radical damage to our skin, ést.lab’s VitaLift A+ Intensive Youth Restoring Capsules contain an extraordinary active ingredient: Fullerene. This powerful compound is 250 times more potent than Vitamin C when it comes to neutralising free radicals, offering exceptional protection and restoration.

Put up the skin defence!

It’s important to protect your skin from harmful UV rays and blue light exposure, as these can generate excessive free radicals, leading to accelerated skin ageing and damage. ést.lab’s SunShields offer a robust defence against these harmful rays, reducing the risk of photoageing and digital aging.

Check out ést.lab’s SunShield range:

SunShield SPF 50*** is ideal for dry or ageing skin. It features a water-resistant formula with smart colour-adaptive technology, using microcapsules to release pigments that blend seamlessly with your skin tone. It provides excellent protection while giving your skin a natural, even finish.

SunShield Aqua SPF 50*** is perfect for oily or acne-prone skin. Its water-based, lightly tinted formula provides sheer, weightless coverage that won’t clog pores. This option is ideal for those who prefer a natural look while maintaining high-level sun protection.

Oxygenate the skin!

Give your skin a breath of fresh air with oxygen facials, designed to deliver highly concentrated oxygen directly to your skin, potentially enhancing tissue oxygenation. This boost in oxygen can promote cellular metabolism and energy production while reducing the presence of reactive oxygen species (ROS), a type of free radical known to cause oxidative stress and skin ageing.

Oxygenation also supports the skin’s natural repair mechanisms and assists in removing metabolic waste products, which helps to keep your skin looking fresh and radiant. By improving oxygen flow and reducing oxidative stress, oxygen facials can contribute to a healthier, more youthful complexion.

Discover Estetica’s next-level oxygen facial, OxyGeneo 3-In-1 Therapy, which combines gentle exfoliation, vitamin infusion, and oxygenation to rejuvenate the skin from the inside out. Unlike traditional oxygen facials that simply spray oxygen onto the skin’s surface, this innovative treatment uses the “Bohr effect” to naturally oxygenate the skin at a deeper level. This unique approach helps neutralise free radicals and offers a more comprehensive rejuvenation experience.

“Photosynthesis” with LED therapy 

While excessive sun exposure can generate harmful free radicals that damage your skin, there’s a bright side: LED therapy, especially LED Red Light therapy, offers a way to counteract this damage. This type of therapy has therapeutic properties that aid in repairing the skin, particularly from damage caused by UV radiation.

LED Red Light therapy works by stimulating ATP production, boosting the energy available to cells. This increase in cellular energy can lead to heightened cell proliferation, accelerating the body’s healing processes. As a result, this therapy reduces inflammation and promotes the repair of damaged skin cells, helping to restore your skin’s health and vitality.

To take these benefits even further, Estetica has combined NASA-approved LED therapy with celebrities’ raved oxygen treatment to create the ultimate rejuvenation experience. Our LED+Oxy Therapy Treatment is designed to refine, renew, and rejuvenate your skin. This innovative combination not only helps repair skin damage but also revitalises your complexion, leaving you with a fresh, radiant glow.

Beauty begins with the right habits! 

We’ve all heard the saying “beauty comes from within.” And while skincare routines and monthly beauty treatments play their part, true beauty begins with adopting healthy habits that support your skin and overall well-being.

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To keep your skin glowing and healthy, aim to:

  • Drink at least 8 glasses of water daily to stay hydrated and flush out toxins.
  • Manage stress through activities like meditation, yoga, or simply taking time to relax.
  • Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins to give your body the nutrients it needs.
  • Exercise regularly to boost circulation and promote a healthy complexion.
  • Get enough sleep, ideally before 11 pm, to allow your body to repair and regenerate overnight.

While these habits may seem basic, they’re far from old wives’ tales. They form the foundation for healthy skin and a vibrant body, and they come with no additional cost—except your effort and consistency. By incorporating these practices into your daily life, you’re not only investing in your skin’s future but also in your overall health and happiness.

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Though we’ve acknowledged that these annoying free radicals are the ultimate enemies of our skin, they can’t be completely avoided. This is why we need to put in extra effort to do what we can, one cell at a time.

Let’s FREE our skin from free radicals!

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In good hands, 
Estetica