Many of us, especially if you work in the beauty industry, are familiar with the term oxidative stress. Throughout our lives, exposure levels to external stressors can vary, even going as far as the activities we choose to partake in. The resulting creation of more than necessary oxidative stress within our bodies can be gradual and unsuspecting.
We all know we should use SPF to protect ourselves from UV, but what happens when we expose ourselves to too many other external stressors?
Surprisingly, oxidative stress doesn’t just come from UV as many of us often assume. Molecules called ‘free radicals’ are produced when exposed to external factors such as:
- Radiation (X-rays, phones, microwaves, air pollution)
- Air pollution (carbon monoxide, fuel emissions etc)
- Certain chemicals (pesticides)
- Smoking/Excessive Drinking
- Poor quality foods (high GI & refined foods)
- Poor quality sleep
- Some health conditions (vitamin D deficiency, cancer, chronic fatigue syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure and more)
These unstable molecules steal electrons from healthy molecules, which creates a flow on effect as that once healthy molecule now becomes unstable. This process continues on and on until we have an abundance of unstable molecules (free radicals) within our skin.
It’s not all doom and gloom though as our body is equipped to organically knock down free radicals & even turn them in to useful cell defenders for our skin. What we do have to be careful of, is how much exposure we are lending our skin to. As the old saying goes, sometimes you can have too much of a good thing. When our bodies receive an abundance of free radicals, it can become too much to handle. Thus, creating oxidative stress.
What does Oxidative Stress do to our skin?
- An increase of fine lines or wrinkles - a result of a decrease in collagen & elastin within the skin.
- Pigmentation or sun spots
- Increased skin sensitivity
- Water-loss within the skin
- Compromised skin barrier
How do we combat oxidative stress?
The best thing we can do is focus on the things we can control when it comes to oxidative stress! When the body is running optimally it has the ability to de-escalate free radicals and oxidative stress when it gets too high. What are some things we can implement to help this process?
Antioxidants. Oxidative stress will occur when antioxidant levels are low. When we replenish antioxidants through our diet and topical skincare, they work to stabilise free radicals by offering an electron to unstable molecules. If you struggle to maintain a consistent antioxidant rich diet, we recommend supplementation in the form of a super greens powder (also very detoxifying/alkalising) which is fantastic for the removal of oxidative damage and repair. Or even just a super fruit smoothie/juice for breakfast. In skincare, topical ingredients that are great free radical scavengers for your skin are:
🌱 Green Tea (Gentle Foaming Cleanser, Vital Cream, Flora Cream)
🌱 Vitamin E (Curative Serum, Vital Cream, Flora Cream)
🌱 Kakadu Plum (Flora Cream, Gentle Foaming Cleanser)
🌱 Goji Berry Extract (Gentle Cleansing Milk)
Luckily, these delicious ingredients can be found throughout our entire range.
Antioxidant rich skincare is equally as important as our skin (being the largest organ) is on the frontline to daily environmental stressors. By replenishing our antioxidant stores frequently, this will help to neutralise free radicals. It is however, not enough just to use good skincare and neglect the importance of healthy internals. Both systems need to work to combat this stress for the best success possible.
- Wear Sunscreen ALWAYS. The sun in the Southern Hemisphere can be so powerful, especially when it comes to exposure to UV within in our skin. Even when you think you’ll be indoors for most of the day, there will usually always be a point at which you will be exposed to UV & pollutants in the air. Think whilst taking that small trip driving down to the supermarket to get groceries or sitting by a window in your home office/living room.
- Age supportive skincare. Building yourself a skincare ritual that incorporates products to promote collagen & elastin renewal, whilst adding in skin barrier supportive ceramides to mimic the skin’s natural fats and deliver botanical actives deep within, is a fantastic way to support yourself through the ageing process. Vital Cream or Flora Cream include a natural retinol alternative that is completely safe throughout pregnancy & breastfeeding & is UV stable (Mothbean Extract & Bakuchiol), as well as barrier strengthening ingredients to support immune modulation.
- Find your inner calm. Stress can contribute to the collection of oxidative stress within our skin, as when we are in that fight or flight mode, our skin health is the last thing on our immune system’s mind! What fills your cup? It could be taking the time to have a cup of tea in the morning. Or maybe it’s going for a short walk at the end of your day. It could even be setting aside 5-10 minutes to do your skincare routine. Whatever it is, create that space for yourself and find your small moments.
- Catch some healthy zz’s. Sleep allows time for our skin to regenerate cells and repair itself. The perfect amount of sleep can vary from person to person. Studies suggest adults should try to aim for 7-9 hours of sleep per night.