Most of us are familiar with the idea of antioxidants, but, like “the cloud,” we have no idea what they do or how they actually work when we really stop to think about it. While we’re going about our lives blissfully unaware, these small but powerful molecules are playing a critical role in maintaining our skin and overall health.
Antioxidants help the body combat free radicals, or unstable molecules, that can develop as a result of factors ranging from exposure to UV rays and environmental pollution to poor nutrition and the byproduct of natural biological processes. When free radicals hang around in our bodies, they can lead to inflammation and disease as well as increased signs of skin aging and hyperpigmentation. But there’s no reason to panic – antioxidants are ready to come to the rescue.
What’s So Bad About Free Radicals?
The source of all of the trouble is that free radicals have just one electron – and electrons prefer to be coupled up. The solo electrons are like guys on Tinder who swipe right on everyone. They comb through the body looking for another electron to pair with so they can become stable or whole again, and they’re not at all picky about who they choose. This process leaves behind “debris” in the body, as dermatologist Dr. Alicia Zalka, MD explains.
This disruptive activity results in imbalances that cause stress on the body and “damage to cells, proteins, and DNA,” according to dermatologist Dr. Hadley King. “This damage can lead to inflammation, aging, and even cancer.”