Free radicals are everywhere – they are produced by sunlight, toxins, cigarette smoke, pollution – even our own cells. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing an electron in the outer pair of the molecular orbit, and are looking for a second electron to complete their pair. They stabilize themselves by stealing electrons from the lipids within the skin’s membranes. These damaged lipids then turn around and snatch electrons from neighboring molecules. Pretty soon, a chain reaction of electron robbery is underway, leaving in its wake a string of crippled molecules, like a run in a nylon stocking. Free radicals can damage virtually every part of a cell, including the DNA within the nucleus of a cell (for more information on DNA damage and repair, visit our DNA repair enzymes page). If they take an electron from a collagen molecule in the skin, the collagen becomes damaged. When collagen gets damaged, it results in stiff, wrinkled, discolored skin.
Antioxidants are simply molecules that have an electron to spare. This electron is one that they can donate to the free radical and stop the series of electron thefts known as oxidation.
When choosing an antioxidant formula to incorporate into your routine, it is important to understand that there are many types of free radicals and not every antioxidant can stop every free radical. There are also water portions of the cell and lipid portions of the cell that need protection – and antioxidants are either water-soluble or lipid-soluble. For complete antioxidant protection, choose a formula with a blend of both lipid and water soluble antioxidants (ie: L-ascorbic acid is water soluble and vitamin E is lipid soluble).
Alpha Lipoic Acid