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Free radicals

What is oxidative stress?

Free radical damage also known as oxidative stress or oxidisation. It makes a huge contribution to the ageing process, destroying cells that affect our sight, hearing and organs. It causes our skin to, sag wrinkle and age prematurely and our hair to grey. When free radical damage affects DNA cells it is thought to cause Cancer. It is also implicated in Alzheimer’s and Heart Disease.

Free radical damage starts with a chemical reaction, Often a bit of particle is left over. Most particles like to have an even number of electrons, if the bit left over has an uneven number it will be a free radical. The unpaired electron(s) cause the particle to be unstable.

These particles long to stabilise. To do so they must obtain an electron from another particle. So they steal it from a neighbour. When an electron is taken from another particle, the donor itself becomes an unstable free radical. It must then too steal an electron. Thus the chain reaction continues and can be thousands of events long. All particles in the chain are damaged, eventually leading to break down and failure.

You may recognise the term oxidisation in relation to rusting metal. This is the same process and oxidisation is just as damaging to us as it is to metal.

Antioxidants

Antioxidants stop free radical damage by safely offering up an electron to the free radical scavenger, thereby breaking the chain of destruction. Antioxidants can remain stable with an uneven number of electrons.

Supplementation of antioxidants through diet and in skin creams will dramatically improve your body’s efforts to fend off free radical damage.
Antioxidants are very prevalent in fruit, vegetables, herbal extracts, essential oils and natural oils or butters extracted from plants and nuts without the use of heat or solvents.

Because our products are water-free and 100% Natural, they contain an extraordinary amount and variation of helpful antioxidants. Our Body Butter and Beauty Balm are daily treatments for body and face that will help your skin fight the daily battle against free radical damage and premature ageing.

Causes of oxidisation

Some oxidisation occurs naturally in the body as a result of chemical reactions that are necessary to our survival, however extraneous free radical damage can be significantly reduced by avoiding:

  • photo-damage from the sun
  • airborne pollution (including cigarette smoke),
  • trans fats 
  • cooking with polyunsaturated fats (use animal fat or tropical fats like coconut or babassu for cooking)
  • reused cooking fats (such at deep fat fryer fats)
  • toxins in cleaning, beauty and occupational related products. 
  • excessive sugar and refined carbohydrates
  • processed foods high in preservatives
  • excessive alcohol

Avoiding these triggers as much as possible and applying and consuming plenty of antioxidants will considerably reduce the free radical damage in your body and skin

Trans fats

Trans fats are created by unnatural processes such as hydrogenation. Hydrogenated fats are used widely in the beauty industry (and were used widely in food, although not so much these days).

Trans fats are also created when unstable natural fats are subjected to sunlight, excessive heat or oxygen. Unstable natural fats are those high in poly-unsaturates. These fats come from plants that grow in cooler climates, They have not evolved to be sun-stable. (eg sunflower oil)

Fats originating from tropical plants are laden with heat-stable saturated fatty acids. (eg coconut oil, babassu oil, shea butter)

Fats from warmer temperate areas are high in stable mono-unsaturated fatty acids. (olive oil, almond oil)

It is now widely acknowledged that is is not good to cook with poly-unsaturated fats such as sunflower oil because of the dangers of consuming oxidised fats. (unless it is high oliec sunflower oil which is high in mono-unsaturates). Saturated fats such as animal fat and coconut oil are recently seeing a renaissance after decades banished from the cupboards of health conscious individuals.

Natural fats and oils are often subjected to heat in the extraction process. Heat destroys the theraputic compounds in natural oils and creates dangerous trans fats. For this reason we only use cold pressed natural oils and butters in our skin care to avoid trans fats in our products.

UV Protection

We also use a very high percentage of sun-stable saturated and mono-unsaturated oils and butters. These fats do not oxidise easily and will not cause free radical damage in your skin. They are are also laden with antioxidants, so they will actually increase your skins own ability to protect itself free radical damage.

For this reason our beauty balm and body butter can actually prevent long-term photo damage and the associated premature ageing even though it does not contain a sun block. (Be aware it will not stop you getting sun burned).

We feel a sensible strategy for sun protection is using natural sun-stable oils for skin care (during daylight hours), avoiding excessive exposure in the first place and using non-nano zinc oxide based sunscreen. Unfortunately, It seems chemical sunscreens that include active ingredients like octinoxate and oxybenzone may do more harm than good. 

See:

Huffington Post Article: Sunscreen safety, whats the bottom line?

EWG's guide to sunscreens

Artificial Chemicals

It is estimated that there are more than 100,000 chemicals in use in our daily lives and less than 5 percent have been thoroughly tested (figure relates to artificial chemicals registered for commercial use in America over a 30 year period). Many of these chemicals are easily absorbed into our bloodstream and build up in our system. When they bump into each other they cause all sorts of free radicals that have no place in our bodies and skin.

We are not Ludites, when it comes to skin care we are not against anything made in a lab or a test tube, but it seems we regularly hear that artificial chemicals that were deemed safe are regularly proven harmful (and nobody knows the consequences of them in combination with each other in our bodies). For this reason we have opted for a 100% natural approach.

We naturally avoid synthetic fragrance and colour, that's straightforward, but avoiding antimicrobial preservatives like Parabens and Phenoxyethanol (which prevent mould and bacteria growing in the water element of a product) is not so easy. So we have opted for water-free formulations which negates the need for any antimicrobial preservatives or emulsifiers and also means you are getting 100% pure unadulterated natural oils bursting with a myriad of age defying antioxidants.