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What are Free Radicals & How to Protect Your Skin

What are Free Radicals & How to Protect Your Skin

When we expose our skin to everyday aggressors including sun damage, pollution and bacteria, stress is caused to our skin, in part due to free radicals. To protect your skin fully and curate a skincare routine, it’s beneficial to understand what creates stress in skin at a cellular level. Free radicals directly affect signs of premature ageing, pigmentation and dullness in skin. Despite free radical damage occurring at a cellular level, there are proactive ingredients that you can incorporate into your skincare routine which can help address this issue.

To find out what causes free radicals, read our comprehensive guide below. We explain how to protect against free radical damage with changes to daily habits and the use of targeted skincare ingredients.

The science behind skin barrier health


A healthy atom is made up of electrons that orbit in pairs around it. Within our body there are billions of oxygen atoms, and they contribute to the overall health of our body – including our skin.

 A free radical is a molecule that contains unpaired electrons. When a molecule loses an electron, the molecule oxidises and becomes unstable. Any free radical will look to repair their electron pairing in order to restabilise, and in doing so take electrons from another molecule. That molecule then becomes a free radical and looks to restabilise, creating a cycle.

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Free radicals occur naturally and are motivated by external stressors. One of the main causes of free radicals in our everyday world is pollution and UV rays. Especially for those of us who live in industrial areas, free radicals caused by pollution has a high level of risk to the health of our skin. Common pollutants include smog, dust and cigarette smoke.



When free radicals are unable to claim electrons from other, balanced molecules, they can create chaos within cells. Destabilised skin cells can result in DNA damage which can lead to signs of ageing including wrinkles, sagging of skin, age spots and broken blood vessels. Alongside premature ageing, free radical damage can cause dullness and reduce the look and feel of healthy skin.

retinol routine


Free radicals are a part of life. Exposure to common stressors is inevitable, but there are measures we can take each day to effectively protect our skin from free radical damage. Read below to find out how to prevent free radical damage and support the healthy foundation of skin.

The science behind skin barrier health


A powerful anti-ageing tool, antioxidants protect the skin from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. By incorporating this active skincare protectant into your morning skincare routine, you’ll improve the visible health of skin.

Vitamin C is a well-known antioxidant, used for its brightening benefits in skin. Our Pure Vitamin C10 Serum is suitable for sensitive skin, helping to improve texture as well as skin dullness. Used directly after cleansing, this lightweight serum helps to protect skin and reveal radiance. 

Also known as Vitamin B3, niacinamide works to improve the tone and texture of skin and helps protect against free radical damage. Incorporate a niacinamide serum like the Mela B3 Niacinamide Serum For Dark Spots to target free radicals, hydrate and brighten skin. This ingredient is especially beneficial for oily skin thanks to its oil flow balancing properties. 

Pigmentation is a common sign of ageing, and is exasperated through free radicals. The Pigmentclar Anti-Pigmenation Cream contains the antioxidant Ferulic Acid, which benefits the complexion of skin. 

Vitamin E can reduce UV damage in skin exposed to free radicals. The Redermic Vitamin C10 Anti-Ageing Moisturiser contains this antioxidant and protects skin from the effects of free radical damage of sagging in skin through its firming formula. 

At night, our skin is most permeable. Target the effects of free radicals by using a potent antioxidant serum like the Retinol B3 Serum. This anti-ageing step is formulated with Vitamin A, to resurface the appearance of fine lines.

retinol serum


Sunscreen use is an integral part of your everyday skincare routine, especially when under the harsh Australian sun. As UV damage is a major cause of free radicals, regular sunscreen application can help to protect skin from free radical damage thanks to UV rays. Apply a broad spectrum SPF50+ sunscreen from our Anthelios range like the Anthelios Invisible Fluid Facial Sunscreen SPF50+ as the last step in your skincare routine, 20 minutes before exposure to the sun. The nourishing but lightweight formula is easy to reapply as it’s non-comedogenic and won’t block pores. Sunscreen should be reapplied every 2 hours and used alongside other sun safe measures

ALWAYS READ THE LABEL AND FOLLOW THE DIRECTIONS FOR USE. Apply 20 minutes before sun exposure. Sunscreen is only one part of sun protection so wear protective clothing and seek shade. Avoid prolonged sun exposure.



The compound structure of antioxidants is what makes them a powerful tool in addressing and reducing free radicals. Antioxidants carry an extra electron, which they can donate to free radicals without becoming unstable. This returns balance to the free radical, restoring their balance before they can damage skin cells. Regular use of antioxidants can both protect and address the harmful effects of free radical damage.

If you found this article helpful, read on to understand more about what causes sensitivity to skin.
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