The skin is the largest organ in the body and it acts as a protective barrier against the outside environment.
Collagen is the support structure of the skin and it works to keep skin plump and wrinkle free. However, as we age, collagen production in the body slows down leaving less support under the skin. This is when wrinkles and sagging skin begin to appear. This breakdown is accelerated by external factors, including exposure to the sun, pollution, cigarette smoke and unhealthy diets.
The breakdown of the skin structure is caused by free radical damage. Free radical damage happens at the atomic level when an oxygen molecule is involved in a chemical reaction that causes it to lose one of its electrons. Electrons are meant to be in pairs and when an oxygen molecule is missing an electron, it is called a free radical. Exposure to UV rays and pollution causes this chemical reaction that separates the electrons.
Each oxygen molecule that is missing an electron must take an electron from another molecule and then that molecule must take an electron form another molecule, causing a chain reaction. This chain reaction is called free radical damage and it occurs in less than one second.
Fortunately, this free radical damage can be stopped, which is where anti-oxidants come into play. Anti-oxidants attach to free radicals, which stop them from stealing electrons from other molecules. The anti-oxidant then immediately stops free radical damage!
Vitamin C and Vitamin E are excellent anti-oxidants for the skin. Ingesting them can be helpful, although topical preparations are more beneficial, delivering a larger quantity of anti-oxidants to the skin. Products containing vitamins must be packaged properly as exposure to air and light will diminish their potency.
Vitamin C and E protect the skin from the damage caused by exposure to the sun's harmful UV rays and work best when paired together. While they do not block the sun like a sunscreen, they do neutralize the free radicals that are produced as a result of exposure to the sun.
Vitamin C has healing properties and helps to reduce redness after skin peeling treatments. It also has a lightening effect on age spots and it assists in the production of new collagen, leaving the skin with a more youthful appearance.
Vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties, aids in the healing of wounds and is an effective moisturiser and skin protector.
A healthy diet full of anti-oxidant rich foods is another way to prevent the deterioration of support structure of the skin. Anti-oxidants are abundant in foods that contain lycopene and flavonoids. Lycopene can be found in tomatoes and watermelon. Eating tomato sauces is the best food to get your lycopene. Flavonoids are abundant in green tea, cocoa, berries and red wine. Not only are these foods good for your skin they can also protect you from heart disease, cancer and even diabetes.
While the aging process cannot be stopped, we can slow down the process and even reverse some of the damage caused by free radicals. To take care of yourself, you must get plenty of rest, exercise, eat a balanced diet and nourish your skin with effective anti-oxidants in order have healthy vibrant skin at any age.