You may have heard about the damage free radicals can inflict on our skin, but did you know that those same, everyday aggressors that cause free radical damage can also wreak havoc on our hair and scalp in the very same way? Leaving our locks dull, limp and lacking shine — not to mention causing colour fade.
Here we take a closer look at this assailant and its effects on the hair, skin and scalp. Join us as we explore exactly what free radicals are, as well as the antioxidants that can help counteract their impact.
WHAT IS A FREE RADICAL?
Free radicals are harmful molecules that exist all around us in our everyday environments. A free radical is an unstable molecule with one or more unpaired electrons. As electrons like to exist in pairs, free radicals are constantly on the lookout for another electron to make them stable, attacking healthy cells in the process.
They can build up in the body naturally and cause direct damage to other types of molecules, including DNA, proteins and lipids. While we are exposed to higher concentrations in areas with higher levels of pollution, such as cities or industrial zones; they exist in almost every environment.
WHERE ARE THEY FOUND?
We know that free radicals surround us in city pollution, but where else are they found? And how can we limit the damage they trigger on our hair and scalp?
The truth is, we face free radicals every day. Sources include:
- Radiation (UV from the sun’s rays and X-rays)
- Cigarette smoke
- Car exhaust fumes
- Hard water
- Environmental and air pollutants
- Industrial solvents and chemicals
It may sound surprising, but as well as outdoors, we are exposed to free radicals indoors within our homes too. In fact, the EPA (The US Environmental Protection Agency) reported that the levels of indoor air pollutants are often two to five times higher than outdoor levels, and in some cases can exceed 100 times that of outdoor levels of the same pollutants. Particles from external aggressors can be pulled into our homes with us or via an open window; even more so when there isn’t sufficient ventilation to remove them.
Indoor air pollution can be caused by several different culprits, including:
- Central heating
- Poor ventilation
- Fire smoke
- Hard water
- Damp and mould
- Air fresheners and deodorisers
- Cooking fumes
- Harsh chemicals in our household cleaning products
- Building materials
Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals attack healthy cells and change their composition, leaving them unable to function the way normal, younger cells do. With age, our production of free radicals increases, while our body’s defence mechanisms decrease. This imbalance leads to progressive damage of cellular structures. On top of environmental aggressors, product build-up can also contribute to oxidative stress on the scalp and skin — but no need to fret, there is a solution!
Enter: Antioxidants, responsible for offsetting the effect of free radicals by helping to neutralise or remove them. While we possess our own store internally, our levels significantly diminish as we age and encounter free radicals each day.
THE SOLUTION: ANTIOXIDANTS
To counteract this damage and keep our levels topped up, it’s important to eat a variety of antioxidant-rich fruit and vegetables to help replace our lost supply.
Vitamins A, C and E are all examples of effective antioxidants, but the one causing the biggest stir right now, is Vitamin C. Heralded for its exceptional detoxing, cleansing and brightening abilities, it’s a must-have ingredient to incorporate into your regime.
To maximise free radical protection for your hair and scalp, it’s beneficial to opt for antioxidant-packed, Vitamin C haircare products that help to shield against the damage caused by aggressors, and eliminate impurities – think powders, serums and treatments. Your scalp and tresses will feel deeply cleansed, purified and detoxed, with restored luminosity and shine.
We have a NEW Vitamin C innovation coming soon… keep a look out for updates!