Skin Antioxidants & You (Part 2)

By Rob Hardwicke, President & Product Master, Awakening Skincare

In my earlier blog posting on the subject of antioxidants [“Skin Antioxidants & You (Part 1)“], I described some of the causes of skin oxidation and the resulting negative impact on the health of your skin.  It’s bad enough that the unavoidable sands of time rob your skin of its elasticity and tautness, but it’s even worse when relatively simple actions that you could take to improve the condition of your skin are ignored.  I’m not suggesting that any of us strive to achieve the thoroughly embalmed, yet youthful beauty of Oscar Wilde’s Dorian Grey, since, frankly, even if our skin were to be flawless at age 115, chances are that most every other body part would be ready for the anatomical scrap heap — joints that don’t quite bend, ears that don’t quite hear, reproductive organs that long ago had displaced frisky fun with infuriating inaction…!

So where’s the hope in all of this?

The answers: Mindful nutrition and mindful body care.  Think about what you’re doing.  To safeguard the quality of your skin, eating the right foods is just as important as what types of cosmetics and personal care products you apply.  Excessive sugar consumption, for instance, can do a total number on the quality of your skin by transforming it into the equivalent of the cracked residue of a dry mud puddle.  For a discussion far more lucid that anything I might mention about how your skin is impacted by what you shove into your mouth, I recommend Nicholas Perricone’s best-seller, The Wrinkle Cure.  And during the time that it takes you to get around to reading that book, I suggest you start munching on antioxidant foods such as blueberries, cranberries, prunes, strawberries, most beans and red apples with ORAC (oxygen radical absorbance capacity) scores between 5,900 and 12,000 — far easier than attempting to stuff a mackerel or two into your lunch pail.  Overeating, to the surprise of almost no one, is not helpful since the more food you need to metabolize, the more free radicals you produce.

So let’s look at the simple (some simpler than others) lifestyle changes that quickly result in a drop in free-radical production: Stop smoking (maybe not so simple, but essential as  well as a no-brainer).  Limit sun exposure (some exposure is good (really, “essential”) for boosting your Vitamin D intake, but the ‘good’ rapidly turns to ‘catastrophic’ since too much exposure is by far the worst cause of free-radical production).  Limit stress (try meditating if you’re ambitious and/or reasonably disciplined, otherwise just be mindful to take a deep breath more frequently).  Limit high-fat foods, since free-radicals are most readily released in fat.  Limit caffeine consumption (this is a strange one, since too much caffeine “in” you causes free-radical problems whereas caffeine “on” you serves as a free-radical reducer — which is why Awakening makes an antioxidant hand therapy cream called “Espresso HANDS” — but don’t try to ingest this product or you’ll be more ‘regular’ than you might imagine in the very worst of your nightmares!).  Limit stringent (or whacko) diet regimens, since uber-rapid weight loss is only achieved by rapid fat burning and rapid fat burning causes rapid free-radical release).

So much for both the superficial diet and superficial lifestyle tips.

Being in the skincare business, those of us here at Awakening prefer to think of antioxidants in terms of what direct applications to the skin will achieve in the way of positive outcome.  And since the hallmark of the Awakening brand of skincare is our use of natural minerals to hydrate and heal, we prefer to focus on what’s going to end up ‘in’ your skin rather than just ‘on’ it.  Our focus is the opposite of ‘superficial’; it’s the essence of ‘deep’.  A nice, goopy petroleum jelly or a pricey nut butter sits on the skin and thereby forms a superficial ‘protective’ barrier.  Looking at it in this light, such superficial barriers certainly protect the skin from the airborne contamination (smog, etc.) that can raise havoc with free-radical production in skin tissue.  Awakening’s term for this form of skincare is the “Lube Approach” — protect by encasing — and it’s an approach that Awakening avoids like the plague — if, for no other reason, than the fact that I personally despise anything slimy or greasy on my own skin.

Our approach is to combine known antioxidant ingredients with natural minerals known to hydrate and heal skin.  An important outcome of this approach is skincare that penetrates the dermis and consequently is silky rather than greasy — that it’s ‘in’ the skin rather than ‘on’ it.  In fact, in most cases it’s as if you’ve applied no skincare product at all to your skin.  This little feature is why our products are frequently mentioned as the “skincare products for people who hate skincare products”.  But I digress…

Antioxidant mineral skincare is the goal (my goal, at least).  Please recall from my first blog posting that antioxidants serve to neutralize free radicals, which are “the oxygen-based molecules that are a rogue by-product of normal body metabolism.”  These are the dysfunctional molecules that are missing one electron and which roam the skin tissue looking for normal, happily-balanced molecules to mug and from whom to steal the electron that they themselves lack and therefore covet.  It’s a little like tossing a ping pong ball onto a floor covered with set mousetraps.  One action quickly results in widespread havoc — a singular electron mugging precipitating rampant mugging, which leads to accelerated tissue damage and thusly, more rapid aging.  Antioxidants break these chain reactions.

So, of the three sources of antioxidants (animal, mineral, botanical), we opt for the latter two since we’re essentially vegan (‘essentially’ meaning that a small number of our products use beeswax and therefore are not ‘vegan’).

Of the plant-based antioxidants for skin, the best known are Vitamins A, C and E.  These vitamins can be used separately or in combination (since combining enhances the overall impact).  These vitamins are effective as they either supply the missing electrons needed to pacify the marauding free-radicals, or they intercede to break the chain of serial muggings.  On the mineral side, the workhorses are selenium, copper and zinc.  These three minerals just happen to be in every one of our products, supplementing the two minerals, magnesium & potassium, that serve as the hallmark of all Awakening formulations.  [In case you were curious, the principal animal-based antioxidants are CoQ10 (coenzyme Q10 or ubiquinol), glutathione and SOD (superoxide dismutase)].

The array of botanical antioxidants is vast, which include the phytonutrients mentioned in my first posting.  Phytonutrients are the plant-sourced chemicals (such as flavonoids, lignans and carotenoids) that contain antioxidants.  Flavonoids are the water soluable pigments found in plants that have antioxidant powers, one of the most famous being dark chocolate (so going to the Godiva shoppe could actually do you some good — if it weren’t for the sugar, of course).  Other flavonoids that find their way into skin care preparations include tea (both green and black), coffee (caffeine), pomegranates and yerba maté.  The lignan antioxidants are found in the sunflower oils that we use as the olus for several mineral-rich products as well as in flax and the ancient healing agent, myrrh.  Carotenoids are derived from fruits and vegetables such as tomatoes, spinach — and ivy (which I guess I would not call a ‘vegetable’ unless I were a snail).  Lastly, and more to my liking, is resveratrol, the antioxidant that resides in red wine — and while this is something I prefer to ingest, I suppose one of these days I should try soaking in it!  It’d be the ultimate in mindful nutrition and mindful body care, possibly all at the same time!

Twitter Digg Delicious Stumbleupon Technorati Facebook

Comments are closed.