Free Radical Protection

Dermatologist explains why free radicals are bad for your skin and how antioxidants help.

Free radicals attack and destroy skin structures. They are involved in all aspects of skin misadventures that lead to complexion problems including sun damage, wrinkles, skin aging, skin cancer, inflammation and more.

Free radicals are chemical species possessing an unpaired electron, meaning they are a half of a molecule. This is inherently unstable and they rabidly look to grab another electron off of neighboring chemicals. In the process, they damage things - like components of precious skin structures including mitochondria, DNA, RNA, fibroblasts etc. Your skin has repair mechanisms but these are easily exhausted. Your skin also has an antioxidant reserve to fight free radicals, but this reserve is depleted after 10-40 minutes of UV ray exposure depending on your skin type.  

What causes free radicals in the skin?

It is estimated that 80% of skin free radicals come from UV sun exposure. They also form from stressors such as poor nutrition, physical and psychological stress, overeating, alcohol intake and environmental pollution. They are produced as part of normal physiologic processes too. 

How do you fight free radicals in your skin?

The unstable free radicals are neutralized by your skin's antioxidant reserve. When free radical formation exceeds your antioxidants, damage happens. Your skin gets its antioxidants mostly from your diet - hopefully! We now have topical antioxidants that have been shown to help too. 

How do you get more antioxidants into your skin to fight skin aging and damage? 

Replenish your antioxidant supply daily to fight free radical health and complexion damage with a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies. Load your skin with more than you can supply from your diet using antioxidant-rich skin care products.

What are the best skin care antioxidants for your skin?

Skin care antioxidants with the best scientific evidence for fighting complexion problems and skin aging include,

  • Green tea polyphenols
    • They are more potent than Vitamin C or E at neutralizing free radicals.
    • They have anti-inflammatory and reduce skin redness
    • They have proven anti-cancer benefits.
    • They can inhibit the breakdown of collagen.
    • They reduce skin immune suppression (Langerhans cell depletion).
  •  Vitamin C
    • It neutralizes free radicals and help regenerate vitamin E.
    • It is a necessary cofactor for enzymes needed for collagen synthesis.
    • It helps to reduce pigment darkening by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme needed for melanin production.
    • Reduces the breakdown of collagen. 
    • Reduces sunburn redness, sunburn cells (skin cells damaged by UV) and skin UV immune suppression.
  • Vitamin E
    • Is easily deleted by free radicals
    • Helps fight free radical lipid membrane damage, skin aging, immune suppression, DNA damage and collagen breakdown.
    • Works best when combined with vitamin C.

What are the best antioxidant skin care products?

Antioxidants such as vitamin E are often added to sunscreens because they have shown synergy for preventing sun damage. These are good, but not a replacement for a powerful antioxidant skin care product. Also, most antioxidants are destroyed by contact with oxygen.

For serious antioxidant skin loading you want a stable, high concentration, professional antioxidant skin care product that is dispensed in an airtight container.

You want to use products protected from oxygen and light and formulated by pharmaceutical chemists who know how to stabilize and deliver the antioxidants through the skin. This means that you need to be a savvy consumer and not fooled by what I call a “fairy dusting” of antioxidants added to products for marketing appeal.

My Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy™ is loaded with the right green tea polyphenol antioxidants - the equivalent of 500 cups worth per ounce of cream. My Retinol Night Cream™ has this same amount too, along with retinol, as does Advanced Corrective Eye Cream™. My Vitamin C Anti-Wrinkle Professional Treatment Serum™ has high concentration, stable vitamin C in the right L-ascorbic form. All of these products are dispensed in air tight containers. They are the superstars of my antioxidant skin care products and I've watched them help my patients for many, many years. I use them daily on my own face too.

Many of my other products also contain antioxidants. The levels are good, but lower, and the containers are not airtight. For real antioxidant powerhouse products, you want to use one or all of the 4 products I mentioned above.    

Reference,

Poljsak B, Dahmane R, Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging, Dermatol Res Pract., 2012; 13526. Feb 29, 2012

Katayar SK, Green tea prevents non-melanoma skin cancer by enhancing DNA repair. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2011 Apr 15;508(2):152-8.

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  1. Dr. Bailey's Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin™

    Daily Moisturizing Face Cream for Oily to Normal Skin™

    Gentle, oil free hydration for facial skin. This light glycerin moisturizer is perfect for acne prone skin and to use in combination with all of our therapeutic facial products.

    $26.00
  2. Dr. Bailey's Daily Foaming Facial Cleanser

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    Non-drying, soap-free and pH balanced foaming skin cleansing for thorough removal of excess oil, dirt, debris and product residue. Gentle enough for all but the most intolerant and sensitive complexions.

    $37.00
  3. Dr. Bailey's Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser

    Extremely Gentle Foaming Facial Cleanser

    Foaming cleanser for complete skin cleansing without drying. Ideal for sensitive skin or skin made sensitive by professional skin care routines (such as glycolic acid, retinol or acne products) or facial skin conditions such as rosacea or seborrhea. The Gentle Foaming Cleanser is an ideal cleanser to alternate with Calming Zinc or your acne cleanser.

    $25.00
  4. Dr. Bailey's Triple-Action Exfoliating Cleanser

    Triple-Action Exfoliating Cleanser

    Eco-friendly beads combine with AHA and BHA to instantly brighten your complexion. Loosen dull dead cells and uneven pigmentation. Renew skin luster to a more youthful glow and instantly reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

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  5. Dr. Bailey's Sheer Strength Pure Physical Spray Sunscreen SPF 50+™

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    At last, an ultra-light sunscreen spray that’s pure mineral protection with micro (not nano) zinc oxide for the best anti-aging broad spectrum protection. 

    $44.00
  6. Dr. Bailey's Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible Sunscreen, SPF 50™ Broad Spectrum Protection

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Invisible Sunscreen, SPF 50™ Broad Spectrum Protection

    Enjoy an oil free, non-whitening and “light as air” feel on your skin. Pure mineral zinc-oxide protection that’s perfect for even the most sensitive skin.

    $47.00
  7. Dr. Bailey's Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen, SPF 50™

    Sheer Strength Pure Physical Tinted Matte Sunscreen, SPF 50™

    Oil-free and oil control ultra-light and tinted matte technology in a hypoallergenic sunscreen – it’s the holy grail for oily and sensitive skin AND it’s elegant for all skin types too! Contains iron oxide too making it the best sunscreen for melasma. 

    $47.00
  8. Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

    Suntegrity Natural Mineral Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

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  9. SunSavvy Kit, Ultimate Protection

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    The Ultimate Sun Protection Kit provides everything you'll need to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays.This kit includes Sun Guard Laundry Treatment, UV Ray Detecto Ring, Vanicream Lip Protectant, Solbar Zinc SPF 38 Sunscreen and Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40 and a mesh travel bag for your products.

    $56.25
  10. SunSavvy Kit, Daily Wear Protection

    SunSavvy Kit, Daily Wear Protection

    The best dermatologist recommended mineral sunscreen products for everyday protection. This kit includes Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40 for the face, ears, and neck, along with Solbar Zinc Sunscreen SPF 38 for the chest, hands, and other areas that need sun protection.

    $43.20
  11. Dr. Bailey's Citrix Sunscreen SPF 40

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  12. EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen

    EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Sunscreen

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  13. EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 31

    EltaMD UV Lip Balm Broad-Spectrum SPF 31

    Protect your delicate lips from the sun every day with a sunscreen lip balm you will love to use. Treats and prevents chapped lips with its uniquely effective moisturizing ingredients.

    $10.00
  14. Raw Elements Eco Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Untinted

    Raw Elements Eco Broad Spectrum SPF 30 Sunscreen Untinted

    The highest performance sunscreen I’ve ever found. A product that’s perfect for the most active kids, high powered athletes and sensitive skin all in one! Reef safe too.

    $20.00
  15. Raw Elements Eco Stick SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

    Raw Elements Eco Stick SPF 30 Broad Spectrum Sunscreen

    At last, the best mineral zinc oxide sunscreen product proven not to run into and sting your eyes - even when you're wet! Reef safe too.

    $16.00

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  16. Dr. Bailey's Replenix CF Cream

    Replenix CF Cream

    This has been a popular facial product in my dermatology practice for years! This unique oil free cream contains a high concentration of green tea antioxidant polyphenol, combined with caffeine and hyaluronic acid (a very expensive protein moisturizing ingredient).

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