Guide To Free Radicals: Understand, Fight, and Prevent Their Attacks

free radicals how to take care of your skin

No one wants to let free radicals damage their skin, but it’s impossible to avoid if you’re not aware of how free radicals work.

Welcome to your free radical guide – here, you’ll learn what free radicals are, their impact on your skin and body, and how to avoid their invasions so you can prevent premature aging and health concerns.

By the time you’re done reading this guide, those sneaky little troublemakers won’t be able to wreak havoc on your skin or well-being any longer!

The science behind free radicals

So, what the heck are free radicals anyway? Let’s go back to science class, shall we? 

Think back to when you learned about electrons and protons. These subatomic particles have opposite charges so they stabilize by joining together. Opposites attract, remember?

According to the National Institutes of Health, a free radical is a molecule with one or more unpaired electrons that is capable of independent existence, hence the name “free”. 

Since they can exist on their own, they wreak havoc when they attempt to bond with other atoms. These molecules have an odd number of electrons, which makes them unstable and highly chemically reactive. 

They damage extremely important molecules in our skin and bodies, such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, and lipids. 

Negative effects of free radicals

Since free radicals are microscopic and we can’t see this process happening, it’s so easy to turn a blind eye to it. However, the way free radicals attack other molecules can lead to cell damage and disrupt our bodily functions.

Negative effects of free radicals include: 

  • Oxidative stress
  • Chronic health problems 
  • Skin damage

Free radicals and oxidative stress

guide to free radicals skin damaging

Free radicals contribute to oxidative stress on the body. According to Healthline, “Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body”, which can damage organs and tissues, leading to disease. 

Still not grasping free radicals? Think about the last time you cut an apple and left it exposed on the counter for a day. When you come back and find a brown, dehydrated apple, you’re seeing a prime example of oxidative stress. 

This is what happens to your skin and other parts of your body when exposed to free radicals. Shriveled up, dry, and prune-like skin? No, thank you! 

Free radicals and chronic health problems

Our main focus today is the impact free radicals have on the skin, but it’s virtually impossible to ignore the effects of free radicals on overall health. These little suckers can contribute to so many chronic health problems. 

Free radicals can cause these chronic health issues: 

  • Cancer
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Inflammatory disease
  • Degenerative eye diseases
  • Diabetes
  • Senile Dementia
  • Asthma

We want to avoid these chronic health issues as much as we can and for as long as we can, right? That’s why it’s so important to protect ourselves against free radicals to ensure we avoid disease. 

Fun Fact: Did you know there are studies to suggest that biological aging might also have a free radical basis? If only we could find a way to reverse that…

Free radicals and skin damage

Free radicals also have the power to jumpstart premature aging. They damage the skin by breaking down collagen and elastin, two of the main contributors to skin youthfulness and elasticity.

Skin concerns caused by free radical damage: 

  • Breakouts 
  • Wrinkles
  • Dark spots
  • Fine lines
  • Saggy skin 

This is a party we do NOT want to attend! Let’s figure out where our unwanted freeloaders reside so we can stay protected before they arrive.

Where are free radicals found?

Free radicals can be tricky because they’re found in the air around you.

Sources of free radicals: 

  • Air pollutants
  • Ozone
  • Certain pesticides and cleaners
  • Cigarette smoke 
  • Industrial chemicals
  • UV Radiation
  • A diet high in sugar, fat, and alcohol

Believe it or not, these molecules can also be found inside your body. Now you’re probably wondering how we can protect against these suckers if they’re pretty much everywhere.

The secret to preventing free radical damage

It’s not easy, but it is definitely possible to protect the skin and body against free radical damage – enter, antioxidants! Incorporating antioxidant-rich skincare products into your routine can provide your skin with the tools it needs to neutralize free radicals before they wreak havoc. Ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and green tea extract are known for their potent antioxidant properties, helping to restore your skin's youthful appearance and vitality. 

Maintaining a healthy amount of antioxidants in the body can help prevent free radical attacks. 

According to SELF, you can “think of antioxidants as a sponge that sops up free radicals,” – they essentially cancel them out. 

The power of antioxidants in skincare

Because antioxidants are molecules stable enough to donate electrons to free radicals, they can neutralize them and reduce the damage.

In order to protect your skin, you need an adequate amount of antioxidants in your skincare routine.

Two antioxidants you need in your skin routine

  • Vitamin C 
  • Niacinamide

Do you have these in your daily or nightly routine? If not, no worries! We have some recommendations you’ll absolutely love.

Vitamin C in skincare

When incorporated into your skincare routine, Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that helps to neutralize free radicals and protect against oxidative stress. 

As an added bonus, it also promotes healthy skin, hydrates, and brightens complexion! 

Face masks featuring Vitamin C 

Illuminate 5-Minute Sheet Mask

illuminate sheet mask vitamin c

The Illuminate 5-Minute Sheet Mask is an unbeatable combo of vitamin C, licorice extract, and grapefruit seed extract that give you free radical protection within 5 minutes! It’s the perfect addition to any skincare routine since the licorice extract will brighten and even your skin tone while the grapefruit seed extract provides antioxidant protection from environmental toxins. 

Protect your under eyes from dreaded fine lines and crow’s feet using the matching Illuminating Brightening Under Eye Gels! You can pop on the eye gels and lay your sheet mask on top for some epic multi-tasking. 

Eye gels featuring Vitamin C 

Looking for a quick dose of youth straight to the undereye? Here are some eye gels perfect for protecting against free radicals. 

Happy Place Eye Gels

lip mask lip balm lip gel lip gloss under eye patches patch eye gels chillmode patchology skin care influencer recommendation product review vitamin c retinol collagen brighter eyes skin skincare self care plumper lips softer lips long lasting lip face

All of this talk of free radical damage can really get a person down. You can forget all about free radical damage and its negative effects when you put on your Happy Place Eye Gels. Thanks to antioxidant-rich hibiscus, skin-softening coconut extract, and skin-conditioning lotus flower, your undereyes will stay protected and nourished.

Plant-based ingredients will boost the skin's elasticity and help reduce the appearance of dark circles and puffiness. In just 10 minutes, you can forget about fine lines or crow’s feet. What more could you ask for?

On Ice Eye Gels

on ice eye gels

On Ice Eye Gels are the coolest antidote to free radicals – they will firm and nourish your skin while protecting them against wrinkles using bakuchiol, cloudberry extract, and peptides. 

  • Bakuchiol is a plant-based retinol alternative that boosts skin cell turnover and smooths fine lines while hydrating and revitalizing the delicate skin underneath the eye. 
  • Cloudberry extract is a potent source of vitamin C, protecting your skin from aggressors like pollution and UV rays. It also brightens and can even out your skin tone to reveal a healthy, radiant glow you’ve never seen before! 
  • Peptides help keep your skin firm and plump by boosting collagen production. In just 5 minutes, you can reduce the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and other signs of aging and preserve your youth! 

Pro-Tip: On Ice Eye Gels work best after they’ve been chillin’ in the fridge! How cool!

Niacinamide in skincare

Also a very important antioxidant to have in your skin routine, niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that reduces irritation commonly associated with free radical damage. 

It’s not as strong as vitamin C, but don’t be fooled – it can still improve skin barrier function while also reducing redness, hyperpigmentation, and oil production. 

It’s well-tolerated by most skin types, making it an excellent option for sensitive skin, eczema, and rosacea.

Face masks featuring Niacinamide

Just Let It Glow Brightening Face Sheet Mask

just let it glow mask patchology sheet mask free radicals

Incorporate niacinamide into your skincare routine with the Just Let It Glow Brightening Face Sheet Mask. This innovative sheet mask is infused with pear fruit extract to regain moisture, seaberry extracts to deliver antioxidants, and niacinamide to even the skin tone. 

This 10-minute mask can help protect the skin from environmental damage while hydrating and plumping the skin, leaving it feeling soft and smooth. 

Bubbly Face Mask

bubbly face mask

Indulge in some skincare fun with a splash of antioxidants with the Bubbly Face Mask! This mask is jam-packed with three different free radical-fighting antioxidants: resveratrol, niacinamide, and orange extract.

  • Resveratrol is a natural antioxidant that comes from grapes and helps to protect the skin barrier. 
  • Niacinamide brightens and even the skin tone while protecting against environmental stressors – you’ll learn more about niacinamide below.  
  • Orange extract is jam-packed with vitamin C and works to improve the skin's radiance.

If you don’t have a face mask that packs this punch, we highly recommend it! This will let you off the hook so you don’t have to worry about free radical attacks.

Healthy eating habits 

vitamins healthy eating

Another way to protect against free radical damage to your skin and overall health is by consuming enough antioxidants through a healthy diet. It’s recommended to eat five servings of fruits and vegetables daily. 

Sources of antioxidants include:

  • Berries
  • Citrus fruits
  • Leafy greens
  • Carrots
  • Tomatoes
  • Onion
  • Garlic
  • Fish and nuts
  • Turmeric
  • Green tea
  • Cinnamon

It can surprise you how much foods affect your skin! Make good choices and you’ll steer clear of the dreaded saggy skin and wrinkles caused by oxidative stress.  

Make conscious lifestyle choices 

Other healthy lifestyle choices can also prevent or reduce free radical damage from oxidative stress. Here are some lifestyle choices that will help:

  • Regular exercise. This has been proven to raise natural antioxidant levels and decrease oxidative damage. 
  • Protect the environment. Reduce pollution through efforts like carpooling.
  • Wear sunscreen. Sunscreen prevents UV damage to the skin. 
  • Protect your lips. Avoid wrinkling and aging of the lips with an antioxidant-rich lip balm.
  • Get good sleep. This is important for antioxidant and free radical balance.

    Are there any disadvantages to antioxidants?

    Overall, antioxidants help more than they hurt – there aren’t many disadvantages to adding more of it into your skincare and diet. 

    Watch out for any antioxidants in skincare that cause irritation such as itching, burning, or redness. 

    However, antioxidants in general aren’t known for harmful side effects like peeling or dryness – something that can’t be said about potent skincare ingredients like retinol and glycolic acid.

    Chill out and stay youthful: embracing antioxidants for a radically good time

    Let’s be real – it’s impossible to completely avoid free radical exposure and oxidative stress. 

    However, you can lessen the blow by incorporating Vitamin C and niacinamide into your skincare, along with eating antioxidant-rich foods.

    Not only will antioxidants help preserve the youthfulness of your skin, but they’ll also ensure you stay in good health! Avoid oxidative stress to prevent chronic health problems.

    If you need help finding skincare products with Vitamin C and niacinamide to protect against free radicals, face masks, and eye gels are a great way to work antioxidants into your skincare routine.

    Although you may not see a drastic difference in your skin or health right away, your body will thank you as you age gracefully, remain youthful, and avoid cardiovascular diseases and cancer – that’s not something to be taken lightly! Taking care of yourself now is an act of self-love. 

    Looking for the perfect skincare routine? Take the Personalized Skincare Quiz.