I'm not kidding when I say that we are literally surrounded everyday by menacing elements that want to destroy our skin! It is truly a horror movie out there, people. If I as an Esthetician were to re-write "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" I would title it "Invasion of the Beauty Snatchers" and it would feature free radicals sucking the youth from unsuspecting victims! "Night of the Living Oxidative Stressors" could illicit the terrorizing tagline, "They're coming for your healthy skin cells, Barbara!"
Like villains in a horror movie, skin dangers lurk around every corner armed with the desire to harm us. They lurk not only in our environment with all of it's pollutants and aggressors, but also in all the little indulgences that we enjoy. Drinking excessive alcohol damages blood vessels resulting in ruddy and inflamed skin. Cigarettes essentially suffocate the cells leaving skin with a grayish clay-like texture. Drugs and other unhealthy behaviors lead to a myriad of skin problems, and one of our all-time favorite things, our warm comforting Sun, is basically trying to bake us all into human leather goods. Is there no escape?? Well, no, not really. But, with a couple good habits and the use of some great skincare, you really can preserve and maintain youthful skin year after year.
The absolute best things we can get in and on our bodies are antioxidants. Oxidation is what happens to every living and non-living thing. It's why apple slices turn brown just minutes after being cut. It's why the now seafoam green Statue of Liberty is no longer the bronzed copper beauty she once was. There are little monsters among us called free radicals, which are essentially unpaired electrons that scavenge our bodies looking for their pair. This effects us internally in the way of major DNA and cellular damage. Externally, free radicals lead to extrinsic skin aging, markedly compromising our skin health.
So what are antioxidants? They are the defenders of the DNA and cells that these free radicals target. They neutralize the unpaired electron, and prevent it from continuing on it's journey. Ever notice that when you squeeze lemon juice on those freshly cut apple slices they remain fresh with no browning? That is because lemons are packed with Vitamin C, and Vitamin C is, you guessed it, an antioxidant. Various plants are super rich in antioxidants and contain high amounts of Vitamins A,C and E. Consuming foods high in these vitamins is the best way to load up on antioxidant power. Dark leafy greens like spinach and kale are really superior in vitamin content as are fresh vegetables like carrots and tomatoes. A diet rich in these free radical fighters will keep your body healthy and able to defend against cellular deterioration.
But what about our skin? Getting protection on the outside of our bodies is important, too. First and foremost, we know we need to be applying sunscreen. Every. Single. Day. The UV from the sun expedites free radical activity and it is imperative this be a daily habit. Although an SPF of at least 30 is recommended, I always encourage people to kick that up to 50. SPF formulas these days are gorgeous. Lightweight and water based, these SPFs feel wonderful on the skin and often times make great primers. These are not the thick emollient formulas of yesterday, so there is no excuse for skipping SPF regardless of location, climate, or altitude. Sunscreen is your first layer of protection against not just sun damage to the skin, but also free radical damage.
Your second layer of protection( but used underneath the SPF) is a topically applied antioxidant rich skincare product. Like lemon juice on apple slices for prolonged freshness, antioxidants preserve your skin in this same way. You can find these as protective serums, facial oils or moisturizers. Arcadian Winds Beauty's Nourish LUXE Day Protect Serum is packed with antioxidants such as alpha lipoic acid, green tea extract, organic pomegranate and licorice extracts. Nourish LUXE Facial Oil contains high amounts of Vitamin C, Vitamin E, beta carotene and black elderberry extract, a superfood that is not only an antioxidant, but also an anti-inflammatory powerhouse. Both of these concentrates are, when applied, like protective bubbles that surround the face and neck, warding off and neutralizing free radicals as they approach.
Simply put, antioxidants in skincare are a proactive approach to slowing down the aging process. Is applying Vitamin C or other antioxidant ingredients to your skin going to make you look 20 years younger? Nope. It's the preventative nature of antioxidants that make them shine so effectively. Each day you consciously apply these lovely materials to your skin you are protecting it and preserving it from damage that it would certainly endure otherwise, maintaining your gorgeous self.
We can't live life in fear of all the baddies that are out there to ravage our skin, or our spirits, for that matter. We should enjoy the outdoors, the sun and the beaches, but also give our skin the protection that is deserves. We should indulge in cake and drink wine, but also nourish our bodies with respect. We walk through life somewhere between delicacy and destruction; safety and harm. It's the love, self care and protection you allow yourself, both inside and out, that makes that walk just a little bit gentler.