Science Lesson: The Free Radical Theory of Aging


As you all know from my website and blog, sharing my skin knowledge with others is important to me. This is why I created National Skin Care Awareness Month. I love learning which is why I’ve completed several courses of advanced cosmetic chemistry at UCLA in California. Here’s a picture of me at the October 2017 course. It is at these courses that I learn about new skin care ingredients, product formulations and the how to achieve youthful-looking, glowing skin.

So here’s my science lesson for today. I am a firm believer in the free radical theory of aging. This theory says that the main reason why we age is that unstable electrons in molecules know as free radicals attack healthy cells and change their composition so that they do not function the way normal, younger cells do.

What is a free radical?

Free radicals are unstable molecules. Instead of paired electrons spinning around the nucleus, there is only one. This causes the molecule to become unstable. This single electron wants to be paired so it attaches itself to other molecules in the body causing cellular damage. These free radicals are very potent toxins that damage our skin because they attach to the proteins and other essential molecules making them unstable to function normally and causing premature death of a cell. (I know it sounds tragic!).

 What are some causes and types of free radical damage?

The skin is under attack from free radicals due to UVA and UVB rays from the sun, pollution, stress smoking, alcohol, fatty foods and even aerobic repetitive exercise. The parts of the cells damaged are DNA, lipids and proteins that make up the cells. This slows down the production of collagen and elastin which is essential in keeping the skin firm and preventing wrinkling. This happens beneath our skin very gradually, making wrinkles, brown spots and sagging become apparent over time.

Can this process be slowed?

Antioxidants to the rescue! Antioxidants such as stabilized Vitamins A, C and E, when applied topically and taken internally, are great at slowing the process of aging by stopping the free radicals from oxidizing the molecules. Foods such as vegetables and fruits (look for the darker pigmented ones) are high in antioxidants and are extremely important to consume daily. Make sure you’re getting your daily dose of the ten best antioxidant foods.

Smoking causes so much damage to the skin that one puff of smoke can potentially damage every cell in your body, so avoiding smoking is a must. (Are you a smoker? Skin tips to save your skin.)

Recent scientific research has shown today’s antioxidants can be extremely effective in preventing premature skin aging when added in high concentration to anti-aging serums. (Read: What Is A Serum And Do I Really Need One?)

Choose skin care products with the following antioxidants.

-Stabilized Vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate) found in Renée Rouleau Vitamin C& E Treatment (Read: What Kind Of Topical Vitamin C Is The Best For Sensitive Skin?)

-Peptides derived from pomegranates

-Superoxide Dismutase (a powerful anti-inflammatory for acne-prone skin) found in Renée Rouleau Skin Correcting Serum

In your quest for anti-aging, you must have a healthy, balanced lifestyle combined with a good diet and skin care products loaded with super antioxidants!

Renée Rouleau

Celebrity Esthetician & Skincare Expert
As an esthetician trained in cosmetic chemistry, Renée Rouleau has spent 30 years researching skin, educating her audience, and building an award-winning line of products. Trusted by celebrities, editors, bloggers, and skincare obsessives around the globe, her vast real-world knowledge and constant research are why Marie Claire calls her “the most passionate skin practitioner we know.”