BY NESLIHAN KOÇAK
When high-energy ultraviolet A (UVA) sun rays merge with environmental pollution, the oxidative damage to your skin becomes far greater. Under normal conditions, there is a balance between oxidants and antioxidants in our bodies. Our bodies produce enough antioxidants to neutralize most free radicals, but as we age, our cells begin to fail to eliminate them quickly and effectively enough. In this case, we need to support our bodies from the outside. The condition that the cell is constantly attacked by radicals is called oxidative stress.
Free radicals are quite harmful to our health and antioxidants are molecules that can easily neutralize these radicals. It is very important to have enough antioxidants in our bodies, in order to be protected from the radicals. The main purpose of skin care is to clean and eliminate free radicals formed due to internal and external factors.
Thus, the skin regains its natural balance and obtains a healthy appearance. Our skin is exposed to external factors all day long – from cigarette smoke, air pollution, stress, radiation to UV rays – and needs to be purified. Cleaning the skin helps eliminate dryness, oily feeling or similar skin problems.
Antioxidants constitute one of the important research topics in human nutrition in recent years due to their ability to remove and deter free radicals, they are also molecules that reduce cell damage by preventing the formation of free radicals or cleaning up existing radicals.
Antioxidants are produced by body cells and can also be obtained through food. The main natural antioxidants present in foods that protect the human body from harmful free radicals are mainly vitamins – C, E and A – flavonoids which are naturally found in many fruits and vegetables, carotenoids which are best absorbed through a source of fat, and polyphenols which most plant-based foods like vegetables, fruits and whole grains contain.
It has become an increasingly important issue to take these compounds from plants that are rich in natural antioxidants and widely distributed on earth, as well as to use them as food additives or preservatives by extracting them as food.
In today’s skin care products, various antioxidants are used to better protect basic skin structures against oxidation and to strengthen the antioxidant defense network.
When the effects of externally applied vitamin C on the skin are examined in detail, it is seen that it prevents the formation of redness and sunburn cells caused by UV rays of the skin. Because of this feature, vitamin C is especially added to sunscreens and facial care products. It is also known that vitamin C stimulates collagen synthesis and improves the appearance of wrinkles when applied to the skin. In addition to all these benefits, it enables vitamin E to regain its antioxidant properties in the antioxidant cycle.
Another antioxidant often used in skin products is vitamin E. The fat-soluble vitamin E family reduces the number of sunburn cells and can therefore prevent the formation of tumors. Studies show that the use of vitamins E and C together provides stronger protection against the harmful effects of sun rays compared to using them alone.
Niacinamide, also known as nicotinamide, is a biologically active form of vitamin B-3. In a clinical study, topically applied niacinamide appears to reduce fine lines and skin discoloration, and improve skin texture and tone. Another study, based on its antioxidant properties as well as its strong anti-inflammatory effect, shows that applying nicotinamide on the skin is effective in the treatment of acne.
Retinoids are a class of chemical compounds that are vitamers of vitamin A or are chemically related to it. A vitamer of a particular vitamin is one of several related compounds that performs the functions of the said vitamin and prevents the symptoms of deficiency of the said vitamin. Vitamin A, a naturally occurring antioxidant in the skin, increases blood flow and stimulates the skin’s collagen production thereby increasing skin elasticity.
Alpha Lipoic Acid
Alpha lipoic acid is a powerful antioxidant that can be synthesized in the body and can be found in some foods such as spinach, broccoli and tomatoes. Lipoic acid, which prevents free radical damage is the only one among antioxidants in terms of being fat and water soluble. Lipoic acid also protects the cell membrane by interacting with vitamin C and glutathione, which restores vitamin E in the antioxidant cycle. In this way, it helps repair skin cells.
Coenzyme Q10, or ubiquinone, is a fat-soluble compound and a powerful antioxidant found in fish, shellfish, and plant foods such as spinach, broccoli and cauliflower. As an anti-aging and anti-wrinkle compound, it prevents collagen and elastin damage, and also stimulates collagen production. The production of coenzyme Q10, which can normally be synthesized by animal cells, decreases over time. For this reason, it has a very important position in the composition of anti-aging products.
Antioxidants in this group have very strong properties in terms of free radical cleaning ability.
So which foods should we consume and which products should we use in skin care, especially after we learned the importance of antioxidants? I intend to share detailed information about this next week. So till then, keep clean and care for your skin.