As we get older our skin changes – and we do get fine lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, sun-damage and breakdown of collagen. This process is happening slowly from the day we are born and mostly how your skin looks depends on the kind of life you’ve lived.
It is more complicated than just age.
Around 10% to 20% of how your skin behaves is in your genes. The rest is down to the sun you have been exposed to and your exposure to free radicals.
The sun is essential to life, and does amazing things such as vitamin D production. It also comes with inherent dangers in the form of ultra-violet radiation.
Every day, sunny or cold, the sun impacts our exposed skin – our face, hands, neck and chest.
Limiting the damaging effects of what the scientists call photo-aging is pretty simple. Use sunblock, wear protective clothing such as hats and sunglasses, and cut down on the time you’re out in the sun, especially between 10am and 4pm.
Watch out for free radicals!
And then there are free radicals. That’s a term you’re probably familiar with. Scientists have been talking about them for decades – but it’s not that easy to understand them or their consequences.
We create free radicals in our bodies from the simple process of being alive. Respiration creates free radicals. Exercise brings them on. And the stressors in our modern day lives increase their production.
Pollution, synthetic chemicals, smoking, too much alcohol, fried foods and actual stress increase them. And yes, our friend the sun plays a role, with UV radiation creating them in our skin as well.
Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive electrons.
The chemistry of this is crazily complicated. Simply, these highly-reactive molecules are desperate to find a free electron to make themselves stable. They race around the body attacking stable molecules and triggering a cascade of reactions that eventually damage healthy cells.
An overload of free radicals causes oxidative stress. In the skin, oxidative stress damages our DNA, our collagen breaks down and the skin cannot perform its normal, natural repair process. The result is those fine lines and wrinkles.
Here’s where antioxidants comes in
There’s a way to stop free radicals from running amok and wrecking your skin – antioxidants.
That’s another word we hear a lot but for good reason. Antioxidants are the peacekeepers. They calm down the free radicals by donating a free electron so neutralising them without becoming unstable themselves.
The best-known antioxidants are vitamins A, C and E, as well as flavonoids in plants. Well known antioxidants in our diet include resveratrol, found in red wine, and green tea.
In some good news, coffee is really high in antioxidants! Our body can also create its own antioxidants from various foods.
Having a good diet is essential to ensuring you’ve got healthy skin. However, plant-based oils applied to your skin give you a huge benefit too. The research into this grows by the day and the world is discovering lots of age-old plant “remedies” are super-rich in antioxidants. What’s more, you’re skin can absorb them.
These antioxidants might not turn back the clock on aging but they are critical for slowing down the damage caused by our modern lifestyles.
Here’s a quick look at various oils we use that work as antioxidants. Naturally, They all do other things (they are moisturisers, skin softeners and protectors too) but for now we’re focusing on these antioxidant properties.
Rosehip (Face Cream, Blam Blam Balm)
Contains lots of tocopherols (vitamin E) and carotenoids (powerful antioxidant nutrients found most commonly in foods coloured red, orange or yellow). Huge levels of vitamin C and vitamin A.
Marula (Face Cream)
A magic oil that contains more vitamin C than oranges.
Jojoba (Face Cream, Blam Blam Balm)
Contains natural forms of Vitamin E and is rich in amino acids, which are the building blocks of collagen, one of the first victims of free radical damage. Very similar to the skin’s natural oils.
Evening Primrose (Face Cream, Blam Blam Balm, Face Oil)
This oil has been used throughout history for its curative powers and studies show it is effective in reducing oxidative stress.
Sweet Almond (Face Cream)
Full of vitamin E that can help heal sun damage.
Aloe Vera–infused oil (Face Cream)
Aloe vera has powerful antioxidants belonging to a large family of substances known as polyphenols.
Hemp Seed (Blam Blam Balm, Body Oil)
Hemp seed is rich in natural antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, tocopherols, and phytosterols
Safflower (Face Cream, Blam Blam Balm, Body Oil)
Safflower oil is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acid (it’s mostly linoleic acid, 77%). The medicinal properties of linoleic acid were first reported in the United States in the 1960s indicating its usefulness in lowering blood cholesterol levels in laboratory tests. Its huge antioxidant properties have seen it used to treat atherosclerosis.
Shea Butter (Blam Blam Balm)
This butter has significant levels of vitamins A and E
Lavender Essential oil (Face Cream, Blam Blam Balm)
Lavender has well-documented antioxidant properties
Geranium Essential oil (Face Cream, Blam Blam Balm, Pink Clay Mask)
Widely known as one of the medicinal herbs with the highest antioxidant activity.
Camellia Oil (Face Oil)
In history it was often taken orally and research suggest Camellia oil may act to prevent free radical related diseases – it actually goes looking for free radicals and scavenges them.
Macadamia (Face Oil)
Rich in oleic acid, an unsaturated fatty acid that has antioxidant properties. It's been shown oleic acid supplements protect against the effects of oxidative stress
Avocado (Face Oil)
As a health food avocado is well known; and the same properties that make it good for the heart make it good for the skin, it’s bursting with oleic acid and lutein.
Frankincense (Face Oil, Blam Blam Balm)
This is among the most powerful essential oils with antioxidant properties. By fighting against damaging free radicals frankincense can offer innumerable health benefits. It has lots of limonene which studies have shown may inhibit free radicals in leukemia cells.
Patchouli (Blam Blam Balm)
Patchouli oil treatment has been shown to increase the activity of key antioxidant enzymes and researchers suggest it has potential to hinder photo-aging.
Palmarosa (Blam Blam Balm)
A study in the Asian Pacific Journal of Tropical Biomedicine stated test results clearly indicate Palmarosa essential oil can scavenging free radicals.