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Unpacking Beauty Industry Buzzwords: Free Radicals

Updated: Apr 21

Statistic on beauty industry advertising spending in 2022

The international beauty industry generates over $100 billion in revenue each year. (statista) The market is pretty saturated - yet still growing at a consistent and quick rate - and the competition is high. The largest companies are constantly throwing around buzzwords to hype the "newest" and "greatest" trends in order to stay ahead.

When I was younger, I balked at the idea of investing too much time or money in cosmetics and beauty products. A part of me felt that to do so meant I was submitting to industry manipulation of the consumer - manipulation designed for us to hate ourselves so we would always buy more products. The industry has caused deep psychological damage in so many people.

What makes all of that suck even more is knowing that they have sold us vanity when they may have profited just as well by educating about the connection between "beauty" products and our health. Their buzzword campaigns cause important ideas to get lost in the shuffle. I hope to use this blog as a means to unpacking beauty industry buzzwords and showing how beauty is not superficial vanity, but part of our mental and biological health.

In my previous post, I talked about the difference between hydrate and moisturize. This post is about the term free radicals.

Recognize the Beauty of Age

Understanding free radicals means understanding wrinkles.

Mature skin and wrinkles icon created for Deer Heart Solutions by DHSolutions

People most often associate wrinkles with aging and the industry has tried to teach us that wrinkles are bad - that aging is bad. But our skin and the wrinkles that appear can be a map of our lives. I think of my mothers wrinkled and scarred hands. They lacked the beauty defined by conventional standards, but they were beautiful to me. Every scar spoke of her work ethic and her compassion. Despite calluses, her skin was soft - like the flour she worked into fried bread and pies. I think of the lines on her face, which were the only way she could express the deep sadness she carried throughout her adult life. But those lines also allowed me to glimpse the infinite wisdom she carried.

I say all that to remind us that aging is beautiful. And we should never feel shame at our skin showing we have lived life.

But, in order to care for skin that is showing wrinkles, we need to understand how those wrinkles came to be and why caring for our skin is important for reasons other than looks.

Structure of collagen overlayed a black and white photo of a woman's arm

Understanding Free Radicals

Environmental factors and life choices can also contribute to our skin wrinkling, such as smoking and sun exposure. The passing of time, sunshine, and cigarettes have one thing in common: they each cause collagen loss - the true cause of wrinkles.

What is Collagen?

Collagen is the most prevalent protein in our body. It is found in our skin, muscles, bones, and circulatory system. Collagen is vital to skin cell regenration and wound healing. The etymology of the word helps us understand it better. It's from the Greek κόλλα (kolla), which means "glue" and -γέν (-gen), which means "giving birth to" or "produces". Collagen is the glue that holds things together. It maintains the structure of our body.

Collagen works with the protein keratin, which is responsible for ensuring our skin is strong enough to protect against UV radiation and infection. The buzzword "elasticity" is describing the work collagen does with elastins. Collegen hold us together and elastins help give stretch so our skin will spring back into place.

But, mother nature is a wicked bitch sometimes, and despite collagen being so important to the health of our largest organ, our body's production of collagen starts to decrease around age 30. Lame.

What are Free Radicals?

Smoking and exposure to UV also cause a loss of collagen because they produce free radicals. A free radical is a molecule with at least one unpaired electron. This makes it unstable. In order for a free radical to become stable, it grabs electrons from other cells, which damages - or even destroys - that cell.

Oxidative stress is when there are too many free radicals. This can cause cellular damage down to the genetic level. Some of the diseases related to free radicals and oxidative stress include:

  • cancer

  • autoimmune diseases

  • Rheumatoid arthritis

  • cardiovascular disease

  • Alzheimer's

  • Parkinson's

Free radicals are not always bad. Our body produces free radicals to deal with stress and the hormone coritisol as well as when we work out. And our immune system produces free radicals to destroy viruses and bacteria.

How to Combat Free Radicals

We can't avoid free radicals entirely, but we can reduce exposure. One of the best ways to combat free radicals is with antioxidants.

Antioxidants are also unstable molecules (with an odd number of electrons). The difference is they neutralize free radicals by giving up one of their own electrons. Antioxidants are the defenders of the human body.

We get antioxidants from a healthy diet. Deer Heart Solutions' anhydrous (oil-based) products and essential oil blends provide a boost of antioxidants to your skin, hair, and scalp to help you recover from free radical damage and strengthen your skin barrier to prevent additional oxidative stress from environmental factors. And that means fewer wrinkles and dark spots, softer skin, and smoother hair.


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