Ask the experts

What are Free Radicals?

What are free radicals

It’s a term that’s banded around a lot, especially when talking about anti-ageing skin care, but despite sounding like a groovy movement for political change, Free Radicals are BAD! Here’s how they work:

Atoms are made up of protons and electrons – the number of protons (positively + charged) dictate the number of electrons (negatively – charged). Atoms are programmed to find stability with equal number of both by gaining or losing electrons, or bonding with other atoms to share their electrons. This is how molecules are formed.

Where, for example through UV damage, a proton is unpaired the atom becomes an unstable Free Radical (FR) attacking other molecules to seize the electron they need to stabilise. The attacked molecules then becomes a FR itself, causing a chain reaction that eventually harms living cells, causing ageing. Oxygen atom FRs are particularly virulent, which is where the term oxidative stress comes from.

Free radical atomsAnti-oxidants are key to preventing cellular damage because they can donate electrons without becoming ‘radicalised’ themselves, therefore breaking the chain. Our cells have a natural defense system called superoxide dismutase (SOD), but it’s sod’s law that this degenerates with age, so as our cells are becoming less efficient they are also less protected. This is why anti-oxidants are important to delay ageing and give you the best chance to fight ill-health.

Antioxidant supplements strongThe best way to combat Free Radicals is to protect yourself from the sun and pollution, eat lots of leafy greens and purple fruit and veg, avoid alcohol, smoking, polluted environments and errr oxygen…

If life tends to get in the way of daily juicing, yoga on mountaintops and drinking hourly from glacial springs, try a two-pronged attack using both ingestible and topical anti-oxidants. look for Vitamins C & E, Alpha & Beta Carotenes, Resveratrol, Niacinamide, Lycopene, Polyphenols and Bioflavenoids. Altrient C gel is a brilliant source of Vitamin C, so bio-available that they guarantee 98% absorption (vit C supplements can be as inefficient as 30% absorption) as are the Strong Nutrients Cellution pills, which are designed to encourage flourishing cell rejuvenation and overall youthful efficiency.

Verity Douglas

Verity Douglas

Content Editor

Cult Beauty’s Content Editor and a Cult Beauty OG, Verity loves nothing more than the marriage of language and lip balm. A quintessential Libran, she’s a self-professed magpie for luxury ‘must-haves' and always pursuing the new and the niche — from the boujee-est skin care to cutting-edge tech. Balancing an urge to stop the clock with her desire to embrace the ageing process (and set a positive example for her daughter), Verity's a retinol obsessive and will gladly share her thoughts about the time-defying gadgets, masks and treatments worth the splurge...