The Realities Behind Antioxidants
Much is made about cosmetics containing antioxidants, but what exactly is an antioxidant and what do they do? As the name implies an antioxidants is a molecule that inhibits the oxidation of other molecules. Although oxygen is necessary to support life, certain unstable forms of oxygen called free-radicals that are produced either as a by-product of normal cellular metabolism or a secondary to exposure to environmental pollutants can result in cellular damage. Human skin is made up of millions of individual cells. The result of this oxidative stress has a cumulative effect that can translate in the premature aging of your skin. The mechanism by which damage occurs can be summarized simply by the fact that these free-radicals damage the DNA double helix contained in the nucleus of the cell. As a result the cell can either die, prematurely age or in some cases mutate resulting in the development of certain cancers. Think of an antioxidant as a sponge that absorbs these free-radicals before they can attack healthy cells.
One of the most studied and effective antioxidant is lycopene the pigment that gives tomatoes their red color. Obviously there are to main pathways by which lycopene can exert its effect; either through consumption of nutrients rich in lycopene or by applying lycopene topically. When it comes to skin health and reducing the oxidative damage caused by free-radicals that can cause premature skin aging topically applied lycopene is the most effective. The reason being that dietary lycopene is not distributed evenly over the skin surface concentrating predominantly at the wrists, armpits, and hairline. For this reason application of lycopene as a cream in a highly absorbable form is the best option to maximize its anti-aging protective action.