How many of you remember that old Oil of Olay commercial with the beautiful woman saying, “I’m not gonna grow old gracefully. I’m gonna fight it every step of the way!!”
Why do I remember that commercial? It was so long ago… but somehow it seared a place in my mind and whenever I hear the phrase “grow old gracefully” I think of that woman and her proud determination.
I wonder if she knew anything about free radicals. I mean, I’ve heard of free radicals for years, but I never actually understood how they speed up our aging process until last week at beauty school.
For those of you who don’t know the deal with free radicals, here’s the skinny - - in simple terms.
Free radicals are a like that girl in high school that always gave you the “heebie-jeebies” when she got around your boyfriend. Sure, she played the super-cool, fun loving flirty gal. She even had a boyfriend of her own. But one guy just didn’t seem to be enough. The truth was, given the chance, she’d love to add your man to her collection.
Ok, maybe I went a little too far with that analogy, but it does help paint the picture of free radicals.
FREE RADICALS AND AGING
Free radicals are mutant molecules that can live even though they're short one electron. The only problem is that electrons like to live in pairs. So free radicals goes around wreaking havoc and stealing electrons from stable molecules. After the once stable molecule is robbed of its electron, it continues the process of looking for an electron to steal from another stable molecule. This cycle is very destructive, and it’s been found to be a primary culprit in speeding up the aging process. More specifically for the skin, this process causes the collagen cells in our skin to bond incorrectly, and they begin to break down. When collagen breaks down, skin becomes thinner and wrinkles begin to form.
Where do these free radicals come from? Well, they’re actually developed in the body. Higher numbers of free radicals are produced from cigarette smoke, car exhaust, too much time in the sun, and even fumes that we breathe. They can be produced as the result of many environmental factors, so it’s impossible to eliminate them all - - the key is control and defense.
So, if free radicals are the enemy to the aging process, there has to be a hero, right? The Superman in this story is ANTIOXIDANTS. <wild applause>
Antioxidants like Vitamins A & C can actually keep free radicals from stealing electrons from stable molecules. They fill in the gap by donating electrons to free radicals, and antioxidants don’t become unstable when they bond with free radicals, so the destructive cycle is stopped.
WHAT SHOULD I DO?
Well, there are lots of things you can do – internally and externally. You can make sure that the moisturizers and cleansers that you use on your skin everyday are high in antioxidants. Great products have high concentrates of antioxidants like Vitamin C and E and Grape Seed Oil.Take a look at the ingredients in your cleansers and moisturizers. If they’re absent of antioxidants, you need to look for new ones. I’ll be honest, in many cases the good products aren’t cheap. Many drug store brands don't have significant amounts of antioxidants, even when they advertise that they contain them. There are also lots of recipes on the web for you to make your own high antioxidant cleansers and moisturizers (just pay attention to storage, they spoil quickly). Don't forget about eating food that are high in antioxidants (like fruits, veggies and green tea). It’s never too late to take on the Oil of Olay philosophy on aging.
Gettin’ Beauty Schooled,