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The Free Radical Theory of Physical Aging and You

The Free Radical Theory of Physical Aging and You

Posted by Dr. Hannah Sivak with Brendan Leonard on Aug 10th 2021

So much of a given skincare routine is surrendered to slowing the effects of aging, or reversing the signs of aging that we may have taken on prematurely. At Skin Actives Scientific, our ongoing project is to examine what it is that independent scientists all over the world are telling us about the process of aging, about what is happening to us on a biochemical molecular level.

It’s our firmly held belief that if we examine these chemical and biological relationships we will not only understand the causes of aging, but why we see the results we do, and that we will be able to address them. This is some of Skin Actives’ most foundational thinking: that scientific understanding of the chain reactions in the physical world can lead to not only slowing physical aging or reversing the signs of aging, but to greater, more comprehensive skin health that will lead to increased longevity and quality of life.

But this then begs the question: what is aging? And when we examine what aging is, what can we do about it?

The scope of the former question is so massive as to be nearly philosophical. Scientists around the world have been puzzling over these questions since before the advent of recorded history. Broadly speaking, there are at least 12 theories of physical aging separated into three categories of thought. This is an incredibly macro view however and there are doubtlessly almost as many theories of aging as there are scientists studying it and a myriad of disciplines into which they each fall.

If you are an astute reader of the Skin Actives blog you’ll no doubt have picked up on our particular bias towards what is called the Free Radical Theory of Physical Aging. This theory notes that when cells encounter oxidants in their environments, this causes cell damage that, over prolonged periods of time, reduces their ability to function optimally. This degradation in functionality expresses itself as what we call signs of physical aging.

Many other theories of aging focus on biological interactions that are well within the scope of medicine, but outside skincare. Still others are more esoteric and posit a sort of natural entropy that exists in the universe.

At Skin Actives we focus on the Free Radical Theory of Physical Aging for a couple of reasons:

1.) It’s a problem we can address. We can’t change the fundamental biological machinery of your body, so we focus on addressing where the machinery breaks down. We also can’t change the laws of physics! So if indeed entropy is a natural and unavoidable state, there is nothing we can do to change it!

2.) It’s true. Just because it’s a “theory” doesn’t mean it’s not true! This is a fundamental understanding of high school science. The Free Radical Theory of Physical Aging might not be the end-all be-all of why people age, but it is observable and repeatable which fits our basic definitions for the scientific method. If you’d like to learn more about how free radicals cause physical aging, check out our previous blog, here.

Getting Down to It

The Free Radical Theory of Physical Aging can be seen in a lot of places. Sure, you’re already aware of the oxidation that your body experiences when it gets too much sun, or that the carbon monoxide you are (hopefully not) exhaling when you smoke is damaging your skin, or that even now, just the passive pollution in the air is working slowly on your skin.

But did you know that there is an oxidative chain reaction going on inside your skin, right now as we speak?

There is! And guess what? In a paradoxical twist, you need this oxidative reaction to survive.

Let’s take a look.

The cells of your body are composed of a series of components called organelles. Each organelle has its own function and without that component the cell could not continue to function and live. One such organelle is the mitochondrion, or in it’s plural form, mitochondria.

Mitochondria are fascinating for a number of reasons and we can’t touch on them all. But let’s start by saying that they are very unique and that your cells contain a large number of them. 

The function a mitochondrion performs is to convert the energy found in food into energy that your cells can use. This energy, once converted, is then stored in a molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP)

What’s crazy about mitochondria is that they essentially use oxygen to make this energy conversion. In the process, the oxygen loses electrons, transforming into an oxidizing byproduct inside your cells themselves! Your body knows about this, of course and spends time releasing valuable antioxidants into your cells to counteract this process. 

But the antioxidation process rendered by your body is too slow for the quick mitochondria, and slowly, over time the mitochondria will begin to wear down the other functioning components of the cells via oxidation, including ATP molecules holding energy for your cells to use. This means your cells begin to function less effectively, and eventually die, which then can manifest on our skin as signs of aging.

That’s really something isn’t it?!

What Can We Do About Physical Aging?

Well it may seem like, in its attempt to take care of us, our body is actually diminishing us. And in a way we guess that’s sort of true. Maybe that’s just the circle of life. We need mitochondria after all, and we need them to do their important work.

So, if we are following the Skin Actives method, how can we use what we know about this incredible process to reduce signs of aging and promote skin health?

At Skin Actives what we choose to do is address the functioning of the other valuable cell components that are being damaged by oxidation. How do we do this? By adding antioxidants and nutrients to our skin!

Skin Actives Mitochondria Concentrate - At Skin Actives we use a proprietary method to extract mitochondria from fresh cauliflower florets. These mitochondria, when added in suspension to a cream or serum can be applied topically and feed your cells the nutrition that they need to help overcome some of the oxidative damage caused within your cells. Our Mitochondria Concentrate suspension is the perfect size for a four ounce serum or cream, just buy a vial and mix it into one of your favorites.

Revitalizing Nutrient Cream - Beyond simply adding mitochondria to a preexisting cream or serum, Skin Actives is proud to present Revitalizing Nutrient cream. This cream is preformulated with our pride and joy, Sea Kelp Coral, for extreme nutrient density for healthy skin. Additionally, it’s our only cream to feature our proprietary mitochondria concentrate to aid directly in cell health. 

So, take it from us: it’s not too early or too late to get started with the health of your cells. Whether you are young or old, free radicals are at work inside your skin. Assist your body with the hard work that it is doing and use the power of science to address the issues that lead to physical aging. 

Thanks for reading today Skin Actives Family, we’ll be back on Friday with a brand new blog on how you can pair your favorite Skin Actives products most effectively with your make-up routine.