MAY 15, 2021

Written by Kristen McNary

Aging isn’t something that happens to you, it’s something you do. Many factors that contribute are under your control as they are a result of your lifestyle: the aggregate of your day-to-day habits. Here at Sapien, we like to say “aging is biological, not chronological!”, and here’s why:

At least 90 percent of skin aging is a result of cumulative light exposure and oxidative damage over time. It comes down to your lifestyle and the stressors your skin deals with on the daily rather than your biological age.
Have you ever seen an apple that’s been left on the counter for hours? The brown, shriveled look – that’s oxidation. When exposed to light over time it becomes oxidized, and becomes darker the longer it sits out regardless of how old the apple is. While your skin and an apple are obviously different, you get the idea.

The important takeaway is that you are in control of the amount of damage and stressors your skin will endure and how it ages. Of course genes and intrinsic aging matters, but the most important extrinsic factor in aging is light exposure and oxidative damage. 

Oxidative damage occurs when there is an excess of free radicals in the skin. Though some free radicals and oxidative stress are unavoidable, having an excess of these molecules is what leads to premature aging and damage. Oxidative stress is brought on by light but pollution, smoke, alcohol, and diet also contribute to it. 

Outcomes of free radical damage include
⁃ Changes in cellular DNA
⁃ Altered collagen
⁃ Damaged elastin fibers
⁃ Changes biochemical compounds in the body
⁃ Can cause cellular senescence 

You may be wondering, “what are free radicals?” Free radicals are molecules that have been damaged and in turn have a missing electron which causes it to become unstable. This leads to damage in the skin by snatching an electron from their neighboring molecule which sets off a “domino effect” of even more unstable molecules. Damage from free radicals can contribute to a major portion of aging and disease in worst case scenarios. They’re unavoidable in daily life but worsened by uv exposure (UVA, UVB, and UVC) smoking, and pollution. They have been shown to damage the protective lipids in our cells that protect cellular membranes, leading to further cell damage – known as lipid peroxidation. These outcomes lead to premature aging, wrinkling, less structural support, and in severe cases can contribute to skin cancer. 

The best way to prevent aging and damage is by correcting your lifestyle to fit your goals. This means limiting light exposure along with having the proper protection. Sunscreens offer a substantial amount of protection, but they aren’t a complete forcefield against UV radiation. This is why our non-negotiable rules include lifestyle modifications and products to support your skin against sun damage. In this case, this is where antioxidants come in. I like to think of an antioxidant as backup for your SPF. 

An antioxidant is a substance that inhibits oxidation. They are molecules with an extra electron to spare, that extra electron that it carries assists when dealing with free radicals. Antioxidants stabilize the cascade of damage by donating their extra electron which neutralizes the free radicals and lessen oxidative stress. 

Antioxidant benefits/function in skincare include: 
⁃ Protection from oxidative damage and UV damage
⁃ Support of healthy collagen formation (vitamin c)
⁃ Reduction of wrinkles and preventing premature aging
⁃ Improved cellular function leading to brighter, hydrated, healthier skin

There are many antioxidant options to choose from with a range of benefits depending on the product. Certain products focus more on brightening, pigment and tone while others are more calming or moisturizing. Certain ingredients, such as vitamin C also come different forms and some formulations utilize multiple forms of the ingredient. For example, both Ascorbic Acid and Tetrahexydecyl Ascorbate are used in ZO’s 10% Vitamin C Self Activating. This duo is paired with another couple of antioxidants; Tocopherol acetate and Coenzyme Q10. This powerful combo provides exfoliation, brightening, improvement in hyperpigmentation and fine lines and wrinkles, all with multiple antioxidant protection. 

Other formulations utilize anti-aging ingredients along with antioxidant protection like Daily Power Defense from ZO. This includes enzymes as a means of exfoliation: Ultrasomes (UV-endonuclease) and Roxisomes (glycosylase). Paired with Vitamin E, Beta Glucan, Retinol, Retinyl Palmitate, and Ceramide 6, and Peptides this is a true powerhouse product for antioxidant protection, anti-aging, brightening, and moisture. 

Last but not least, there is the gold standard of Vitamin C serums: CE Ferulic from SkinCeuticals. This product is famous and for good reason. It combines 15% L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), 1% alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), and 0.5% ferulic acid. These three work synergistically and have been proven to enhance protection against oxidative damage caused by free radicals. It improves signs of aging, sun damage, and is extremely brightening. This product is straight to the point and does exactly what it needs to do. 

Antioxidants are truly essential in any skincare routine. They’re a huge component in keeping your skin healthy and combatting environmental stressors that lead to aging. This is why we say that aging is biological, not chronological. We have access to so much amazing information and products that were formed utilizing the info that science has gifted us. Using these tools to support your skin and body is your choice! While knowing the essentials in skincare is important, getting down to specific product formulations and combining the right options to work best for you is more nuanced. This is where we come in, skincare is a lifestyle and it’s made easier by having a pro by your side to help you navigate.

Don’t be a stranger!
Follow me @kristenmcnary and let me know what you’d like to learn more about!

Leave a Reply