Skin Antioxidants & You (Part 1)

By Rob Hardwicke, President & Product Master, Awakening Skincare


Take a walk down the skincare aisle and the word “antioxidant” is everywhere.Most assuredly it’s overused, yet most laypeople have only a vague notion of what it means.And what it means can make a very big difference for the health of your skin — let alone the health of “you” in general.

Be good to your skin

Be good to your skin

There are thousands of known antioxidants, but there are only three primary sources: Animal, mineral and botanical.Awakening, being vegan, uses mineral and botanical sources.While all Awakening products have antioxidant capabilities, Awakening FACE&Neck is our brand’s crown jewel.

But you can’t tell the players without a program:

AntioxidantsThese are molecules that neutralize free radicals in our skin cells.Within the three forms (animal, mineral and botanical — most from natural sources but some manmade), are included such things as vitamins, carotenoids, enzymes, flavonoids, polyphenols and a vast array of others.

Free radicalsThese are oxygen-based molecules or atoms that are ‘dysfunctional’ in the sense that they possess unpaired electrons. It’s these unpaired, “lone wolf”-electron molecules that cause aging.

FlavonoidsThese are free radical scavenging, water soluble pigments found in plants that act as antioxidants.

PhytonutrientsThis is the term for the wide range of plant-sourced chemicals (such as the flavonoids) that include antioxidants.

EnzymesComplex proteins produced by living cells that fire up (catalyze) the chemical life process: Metabolism.Each enzyme is a catalyst.Many enzymes work together to build up and break down biomolecules within the body.

LipidsThe organic compounds made up of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen.Examples of lipids include fats and cholesterol.

Minerals (and Magnesium specifically)A mineral that serves as an anti-allergen and curative agent for skin.The Dead Sea is the source of the most concentrated natural magnesium mineral salts on earth.The minerals most closely associated with antioxidant properties are zinc, copper and selenium.

VitaminsAny of a group of organic substances essential in small quantities for normal metabolism.Vitamins known to possess high antioxidant capabilities include A, C & E.

MetabolismThe set of chemical reactions that happen in living organisms to maintain life but which also create oxygen molecules as a by-product of normal body life.These oxygen molecules are the cause of oxidation and subsequently, of aging.

So the process proceeds like this:The normal life of your body is sustained through the constant chemical reactions of metabolism.Through this process, one chemical is transformed through a series of steps into another chemical by a sequence of enzymes.Enzymes are crucial to metabolism because they serve as catalysts that cause reactions to provide the energy needed to fuel the life process.The process of metabolism takes place within the cells of your body.

But a by-product of normal life metabolism are oxygen-based molecules.These molecules are dysfunctional because, unlike normal molecules, their electrons are not paired in even numbers.They contain an odd electron — one electron that is missing a mate with which to pair up.Such molecules are unstable, meaning that they are going around looking for their missing mates — and are bound and determined to find a mate even if they have to steal it from another, normal molecule — one possessing healthy, happy paired-up electrons.

So the unstable, unhappy molecule, called a ‘free-radical’, essentially mugs a normal molecule and steals an electron.As the result of these thefts, other molecules are turned into free radicals out on the prowl to mug someone else.A large string of serial muggings and electron thefts is set off.The cumulative effect of this violence is called free-radical or oxidative damage.It is also called oxidative stress.

While all this is a normal part of life metabolism, the process can become aggravated in many ways.Air pollution with its chemical contaminants and excessive exposure to the sun’s rays are just two of those ways.And what’s your body’s external, first line of defense against the outside world?The answer to that question is: “your skin” — your body’s single largest organ.

The potential damage wrought by free-radicals is significant.It can affect the basic building block of life itself, the DNA.Electron muggings within the DNA can lead to cellular mutations.They can harm the stability of the lipids that make up the walls of the cells.

In the instance of your skin, these free-radicals take aim at collagen.Collagen is the fibrous protein that serves as the chief building block and basic support structure of connective tissue that makes up such things as skin and tendons.When the molecules of this support structure start to get mugged, the skin begins to degenerate.Degeneration of body parts is another way to describe aging, and while aging is a normal part of the sum of life’s processes, it can be slowed.Skin degeneration is evidenced by such things as spots and wrinkles.Instead of connective tissue collagen keeping skin taunt and smooth, the skin droops and sags.Conditions such as the dreaded ‘turkey neck’ take shape.  The relentless tug of gravity begins to make its mark.

But there is hope, and I’ll address this in a subsequent blog.


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