Skin Free Radical Damage
In a very simplified explanation, human beings are composed of specialized cells that each perform specific functions (i.e. skin cells, heart cells, muscle cells, etc). As we age these cells become more and more damaged. Eventually, the collective cells that make up organs can become so damaged that the organ fails to function, such as the loss of vision or hearing as people age. This process of damage and dysfunction of the vital organs eventually leads to death.
Most of this damage is caused by free radicals. Free radicals are minute chemical particles (atoms or groups of atoms) which are frequently the by-products of chemical processes. For example, when two chemicals join together to form another chemical, some particles are eliminated and these can be free radicals. Free radicals have at least one unpaired electron, causing the chemical particle to be unstable. To become stabilized, the particle must obtain an electron from some other chemical. By taking an electron from another chemical, the free radical becomes a stable chemical, but the other chemical now becomes a free radical and its chemical structure is changed. It must then steal an electron. Thus the chain reaction (of atoms stealing electrons) continues and can be thousands of events long.
Free radicals can steal an electron and break down another biomolecule such as loose proteins, sugars, fatty acids, etc. that are NOT part of a larger chemical structure. In these cases the free radical does little damage. If a free radical steals an electron from one of the proteins that is contained in a strand of collagen (rather than a loose protein), it causes a change in the chemical structure of the collagen at that point and causes a break in the collagen strand. This is damage. Once a bundle of collagen has multiple points of damage, which occurs over years, the strand of collagen becomes dysfunctional and loses its elastic quality. The skin begins to sag. Over time, free radical damage happens to the various components of the body and this damage is progressive.
Free radicals chip away at cell walls, molecule by molecule, making holes. The cells leak and lose their chemical balances. Subsequent free radicals are able to chip away at DNA, making cells dysfunctional. If this damage affects cellular DNA, the cell may malfunction. This is what happens cell by cell over the lifetime of a human being, ultimately causing entire organs to malfunction. If the DNA of basal keratinocytes, for example, are damaged the cells may become dysfunctional and the basal cells will reproduce cells that are equally as damaged and dysfunctional, resulting in the aging and dysfunction of the skin and its various components. Aging is simply the progression of damage, caused by free radicals.
The major creators of free radicals in the skin are (1. normal chemical processes such as producing and using energy, producing skin components such as lipids, and other daily chemical processes that give off free radicals as a natural byproduct (2. unprotected sun exposure, (3. products applied to the skin that produce free radicals and (4. pollution. The way to slow the process of skin aging is as easy as reducing the volume of non-essential free radical activity in the skin. If one source of free radical production is addressed (for example unprotected sun exposure) there will be a slowing of the skin aging process. If two or three sources of free radical production are addressed (such as unprotected sun exposure and free radical producing skin care products and pollution), there will be a greater degree of slowing the skin aging process. These actions can become anti-aging options. Sun protection will be discussed on the Skin Sun Damage page. Skin care product ingredients that promote aging are discussed on the Premature Skin Aging page. Diet is discussed on the Skin Anti-Aging Diet page. Other subjects are covered on this page.
Most of the chemical processes that occur in the skin emit free radicals. In the body, the processing of food, producing energy and using energy creates free radicals. Breathing and using our muscles to perform functions creates free radicals. Manufacturing collagen or lipids or pigment produces free radicals. These free radicals can create damage to the components of the skin as they steal an electron from another component to make themselves complete and stable.
Antioxidants are chemicals that are able to donate an electron to a free radical, stabilizing the free radical and stopping the chain of chemical reactions and potential damage. Antioxidants are able to donate the missing electron to a free radical without the antioxidant becoming a free radical. In this manner, antioxidants prevent free radical damage or in other words, they slow the aging process.
In its own defense the body manufactures antioxidants, such as superoxide dismutase, catalase, glutathione peroxidase, etc. If, for example, extra genes for the production of these manufactured antioxidants are placed into the DNA of fruit flies, significantly increasing their production of these antioxidants, the fruit flies can live 30% longer than normal fruit flies. This demonstrates the benefits of adding antioxidants to the body and skin, as an anti-aging mechanism. Therefore the youthful appearance of the skin can be sustained longer by increasing the presence of antioxidants.
It is estimated that each keratinocyte (cells in the skin’s outer epidermal layer) in our skin has 5,000 exposures to free radicals every day. As a result, the skin has the potential to age faster than any other organ in the body, and because of a decreased supply of antioxidants, the aging process becomes faster every year.
Eating a diet that is rich in antioxidants is an excellent anti-aging strategy for the entire body. It is estimated that only about 2-3% of the antioxidants we eat, get to the skin because of the body’s demand for antioxidants. Topically applied antioxidants in an absorbable form can reduce skin damage significantly by putting the anti-aging mechanisms directly into the skin. This is especially true of the epidermis, which has no direct supply of blood to provide antioxidants and has the greatest exposure to sun and pollution generated free radicals. The skin can tolerate and benefit from an infinite supply of antioxidants, which will slow the skin’s aging process to a trickle…provided the skin is protected from sun damage, and free radicals are not applied to the skin.
BiON uses key antioxidants as ingredients in many of its products and all products contain antioxidants. Several BiON products are so rich in therapeutic ingredients which are potent antioxidants, that these products are classified as powerful anti-aging agents. For example BiON’s Moisture Complex is a powerful anti-aging product. The following is an ingredient list and powerful antioxidants are underlined: Deionized Water, Capryl Glycol, Avocado, Decyl Oleate, Hydrocotyl (Gotu Kola), Safflower, Soybean, Evening Primrose, Chamomile, Green Tea, Betaglucan, Adenosine Triphosphate, Vitamin B, Hyaluronic Acid, Bisabolol, Xanthan Gum, Vitamin E…..
A few plant extracts are capable of stimulating the body’s production of it’s own antioxidants. For example, hydrocotyl (centella asiatica / gotu kola) is a very powerful antioxidant and one of BiON’s most frequently used ingredients. It stimulates the increased production of catalase (a powerful antioxidant produced by our body to protect itself from damage) and the anti-aging benefit of this ingredient is remarkable. Hydrocotyl is also used as a wound and injury dressing because it has a direct stimulatory affect upon fibroblast cells, stimulating them to produce collagen. Hydrocotyl is in Moisture Complex, Nutrient Essentials Mask, Line Reducing Complex, etc.
Because of their antioxidant content the follow BiON products are powerful anti-aging agents: Moisture Complex, Titanium Dioxide Sunscreen, Bio-Essence Nighttime Calcium Complex, Nutrient Essentials Mask, Ultra Moisture Renewal, Intense Moisturizer and Eye Cream, and Vitamin C + Calcium Complex. The Products pages contain descriptions and ingredient listings for these products.
The use of skin care products that are rich in antioxidants is a key and highly effective anti-aging strategy for the skin and it simply makes no sense to use products that do not provide this benefit.
Go to the Skin Sun Damage page next for more information about sunscreen with real anti-aging benefits. You will progress from there into other methods of anti-aging.