Be Aware of Free Radicals!

30 Jul 2016

Free radicals – we’ve all heard of them but do we really know the extent of the damage they inflict on our skin? From the sun’s rays to cigarette smoke to the household products we use every day, free radicals are ubiquitous, often leading to premature ageing and tired looking, dehydrated skin.

While effective moisturising creams can help to combat their effects, prevention is always better than cure. With that in mind, we’ve provided a summary of the top three causes of free radicals.

UV rays
We cannot over-emphasise the need to protect your skin from the sun’s rays at all times, even in our often dull, overcast climate. UV rays are by far the biggest cause of premature ageing and skin damage. The sun’s ultraviolet rays break down our skin’s collagen and elastin and ultimately manifest themselves as fine lines, wrinkles and age spots in your skin. Persistent exposure to the sun may result in skin cancer which is reflected in the soaring levels of cases of malignant melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer – in the UK. Protect your skin from the premature ageing effects of UVA and UVB rays by always wearing a SPF when you go out in the day and wearing protective clothing. And another thing – avoid sunbeds – many sunbeds emit greater doses of UV rays than the midday Mediterranean sun.

Smoking is a prime cause of free radicals. The skin of people who smoke regularly is dehydrated and lacks the radiance of that of a non-smoker. Smoking prevents your skin from absorbing Vitamin C which is vital for collagen growth, as well as constricting your blood vessels and preventing essential moisture from reaching the surface of your skin. The longer you’ve smoked for, the more dry, grey and dehydrated your skin will become. Using a moisturiser packed with essential fatty acids and anti-oxidants will help to rehydrate your skin but the only long-term solution is to quit smoking.

General irritants
Many of us have experienced irritated, inflamed skin after using household products, from washing powders to disinfectants. Chemicals in cleaning products can also cause contact dermatitis or other uncomfortable skin allergies. Protect yourself from free radicals by wearing gloves when carrying out any domestic chores, even something as simple as washing the dishes. Ingredients in cosmetic products may also irritate your skin too. To minimise the risk of irritation carry out a patch test when using a new product and choose a skincare brand that is suitable for use on sensitive skin.

While the effects of free radicals on your skin cannot be totally eradicated, you can take steps to minimise the damage through a healthy diet containing plenty of anti-oxidants, such as fresh fruit and vegetables. Berries, spinach, carrots and broccoli are all excellent sources of anti-oxidants.

When it comes to looking after your skin from the outside, choose skincare products containing essential fatty acids found in sunflower oil and shea butter which will replenish dry, damaged skin and offer ongoing protection from the harmful effects of pollution, smoking and the environment.

Please visit the NHS website for information and advice on how to stop smoking.

My Trusty skincare products are suitable for use on sensitive skin and may help with inflammatory skin conditions.


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