Fine lines and wrinkles are the visible signs of cellular damage. We already know that cellular damage is created by a lack of antioxidant protection combined with an overload of free radical damage and inflammation. Too many free radicals and too little support leads to cellular damage, and skin aging.
The free-radical theory of aging, first developed by Dr. Harman in 1954, states that organisms age because cells accumulate free radical damage over time. In general, a “free radical” is any atom or molecule that has a single unpaired electron in an outer shell.
Free Radicals are produced by breathing, exercising and eating, among other daily essential body functions. Low levels of free radicals are necessary to prevent disease and help turn on and off certain genes in our DNA. They are balanced by antioxidants natural occurring in our body. However, overexposure to UV Rays, pollution, smoking, toxic food and stress create an over-production of free radicals which will lead to premature aging. This makes it imperative that we supplement our systems with antioxidants to keep the free radicals in check.
This oxidative stress from too many free radicals causes a snowball effect that damages skin protein (especially collagen). Since skin cells reproduce by one cell dividing into two “daughter” cells with identical DNA, the cellular damage caused by free radicals is passed down through the many generations of skin cells, which is why fine lines and wrinkles were once thought to be “permanent cellular damage.”
Collagen is a protein that gives your skin its strength. It also supports tissues and organs within the body, and connects them to bone. Collagen is what gives your skin its plumpness, something associated with youth. It is created within the dermis with the help of ATP energy (Adenosine Triphosphate.)
As you age, your cells aren’t quite as adequately nourished and energy levels go down. As a result, collagen synthesis decreases and skin starts to show signs of damage.
Diminishing collagen is not the only problem, however. Free radical damage and inflammation cause cross-linking of collagen (which causes visible wrinkling of the skin as well as either a thinning or over-thickening of the skin – depending on the source of free radical production)
Cross linking refers to the damage done to collagen and other skin cell proteins by AGE: which stand for Advanced Glycation End Products.
Advanced – comparatively late in a course of development
Gylcation – a process that damages proteins in the body (via cross-linking) and produces free radicals
End Products – the visible results
We now know that this damage can not only be prevented, but can also be repaired, if the skin is given the proper supplementation and rest.
The key to repairing cellular damage lies in the supplementation (internally and topically) of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients, while maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to limit the amount of inflammation and free radical stress being put on the body (and the skin).
written by Jennifer Laz, Licensed Esthetician, bien-être spa