Free Radicals & Anti-Oxidants
In the end, after reading through this site, your decision to use or not use something should be predicated completely on the information you receive and, like other professionals who contribute to this site, it's my responsibility to give you the information you need to make that decision fairly, accurately and without bias unless I know a product to work in which case I recommend it and explain why I use it and recommend it. Honesty and knowledge. I owe it to my celebrities and I owe it to you. So, it's my job to explain, in simple English, what causes something and what I do to correct it and today I tackle a complex issue and try break it down into simple terms. First, an "antioxidant" isn't really a thing but rather the function of a thing that is supposed to stop or at least inhibit the damage free-radicals supposedly cause. So let's look first at what free-radical are and then at how anti-oxidants may stop the damage they do.

Remembering simple chemistry or physiology, skin is made up of cells. Cells are made up of molecules, molecules are made up of atoms and atoms are made up of positively-charges protons and neutral neutrons in the nucleus with a specific number of negatively-charged electrons revolving around the nucleus. Now, atoms are happiest when they have the same number of positive protons as negative electrons. They're said to be "neutral". But, when atoms combine to form molecules, some atoms can lose an electron in the process and become negatively charged because they now have one less electron than protons. This is exactly what happens to create free radicals which are nothing more than atoms that are wandering around minus an electron and it happens most notably with Oxygen atoms (O2)..

As in Oxygen or O2, electrons are always found in pairs, hence the "2" designation in "O2". But when oxygen molecules are involved in a chemical reaction, they can lose one of their electrons and the remaining oxygen molecule that is left with only one electron is called a "free radical". With only one electron the oxygen molecule must quickly find another electron, and it does this by taking the electron from another molecule. When that molecule in turn loses one of its electrons, it too must seek out another in a continuing atomic reaction which causes "free-radical damage". What causes an oxygen molecule to let go of one of its electrons and become "unstable" is oxygen or any compound that contains an oxygen molecule combining with a trigger mechanism like sunlight, cigarette smoke, alcohol and even stress. Carbon monoxide, hydrogen peroxide and superoxides plus sunlight and/or air pollution for instance causes oxygen molecules to become free-radicals. Now here's the problem; the air we breathe contains about 20% oxygen and all of us are constantly surrounded with sunlight and air pollution. So how are we still living? And the answer is "Antioxidants".

Antioxidants prevent unstable oxygen molecules from taking another atom's electrons and consequently causing them to become unstable either starting or continuing the free-radical chain reaction we talked a bout a minute ago. Fortunately, there's a vast assortment of antioxidants to be found in both the human body and in the plant world and our body makes it's own in its natural defense of free-radicals. So what does that have to do with wrinkles? Well, here's the reality we have to deal with. No one really knows but that doesn't prevent cosmetic manufacturers and retailers from heralding the importance of anti-oxidants in skin care. Theoretically, wrinkles appear when the free-radical damage originates from natural environmental factors and fails to be cancelled out by either natural, ingested or applied antioxidant protection. Again, theoretically. if we don't get enough antioxidant protection, free-radical damage continues unrestrained causing cells to break down and impairing or destroying their ability to function normally.

Today, there's major investigation underway in this area of human aging and sun damage, pollution and other factors that influence skin wrinkling as the years roll by however I have to over-emphasize that the research is still in its infancy and suggesting anything else is at best preposterous and at worst criminally culpable where a cosmetic manufacturer retailer says that there's empirical proof that their products eliminated free-radical damage. Almost every company makes moisturizers that contain antioxidants, so they aren't hard to find. Now, with that said, your question should be, "Do you use them with your patients, Doctor?" and the answer would be "Yes."

But I use them and recommend them advisedly knowing that I or the patient really won't see any difference in their skin. You see, free-radical damage, if it exists relative to skin, and I must say that I personally believe that it does, has been occurring since the the - English engineer Samuel Brown adapted an old Newcomen steam engine to burn gas and he used it to briefly power a vehicle up Shooter's Hill in London in 1824. The body has always taken care of free-radicals but with our exposure to pollution caused by millions of automobiles and manufacturing plants since Mr. Brown's time, our over-exposure to sunlight in search of the perfect tan and our use of soap to wash our faces, the damage has been occurring over a long period of time. To expect that we can suddenly reverse the damage that has already occurred is, in a word, absurd. The reason I prescribe anti-oxidants is preventive in much the same way I tell people to quit smoking or drinking. You may not see the effects of reversal right away but you stop the damage and there's enough evidence for me to recommend that my celebrities, if they want to prolong their youthful appearance as long as possible, use anti-oxidants to help their bodies ward off the effects of sunlight and air pollution.

There are many ways to take antioxidants with the most common way being orally. Typically, I recommend tablets containing the antioxidant proanthocyanidin. Proanthocyanidin, or OPC, is the most powerful antioxidant known. OPC's are found in many plants, are highly bioavailable and are active in the body as tremendous antioxidants and free radical scavengers. These powerful antioxidants protect collagen, which is the foundation for blood vessels and all connective tissues. I also recommend anti-oxidant cremes like those available through Studio Direct.