What are antioxidants & free radicals?

Antioxidants Free Radicals Skin Care

We hear about those terms all the time when we’re shopping for a new cream, antioxidants, free radicals, we all act like we know what we’re talking about but we don’t have a clue. What the heck are they? What do they even mean and how do they affect my skin?

Here’s a 101 class explaining it all so you can know what the counter lady is feeding you next time you’re shopping 😉 Always come prepared…

So, here we go.

Antioxidants Free Radicals Skin Care

  • The skin is made of cells which are made of molecules which are themselves made of one or more atoms. Atoms have a nucleus with neutrons, protons (positively charged) and electrons (negatively charged) spinning in orbit around the nucleus. Made you have vague remembrance of chemistry classes…
  • Atoms form molecules. They share electrons with one another which acts as a glue that keeps it all stable together. Think of it as the different links in a gold chain bracelet. Each link is an atom, attached to one another by electrons, and they all form the bracelet which is the molecule.
  • All the action surrounding the nucleus creates a chemical reaction, where atoms end up sharing electrons and that is what creates the bond between the atoms.
  • When that bond is strong, cells are healthy, skin is in great condition. But as we grow older, the bond gets weaker and weaker. Environmental factors such as pollution, sun, and cigarette smoke can also weakens this bond and when the bond becomes too weak, we have a problem.
  • When a bond is weak and it is bound to break which damages the molecule’s structure, the molecule splits and leaves out an atom without its full set of electrons. This atom becomes unstable and is then called a free radical.
  • A free radical wants its electron back and is going to attack the closest “stable” molecule to steal an electron from her. I know, not cool. The attacked molecule now splits as well which leaves an unstable atom seeking an electron. This begins a chain reaction resulting in the disruption and damage of a living cell. In short, for the skin, this means wrinkles.


  • Free radicals are also called oxidants or oxidizing agents.
  • It is totally normal to produce some free radicals, it is part of the metabolism’s renewal and the body can cope with some of it on its own but needs helps when this process multiplies with age, misnutrition and external agressions.

How to fight free radicals?

  • Hello antioxidants!
  • Antioxidants stop the free radical destructive process by donating one of their electrons, they’re made for that. The free radical doesn’t need to attack other molecules anymore. Everyone has their electrons. Everyone is happy. Alleluia.
  • Vitamin C and E are well known antioxidants and will help the body to stay healthy. Can be ingested or applied topically.

To sum it up:

  • free radicals = molecules gone wild because they are missing an electron = skin damage
  • antioxidants = they give an electron to the free radical so the molecules are back to being good girls = skin is healthy


Vegetable oils are full of antioxidants and that’s why putting vegetable oil on your face will save your skin! More on that topic here.

I hope this was helpful 😉

With style,

x M


Antioxidants Free Radicals Skin Care


Hi I’m Marie Fiorin! I’m a radio host on Radio Monaco and a beauty and fashion blogger and correspondent in Miami, Florida. Here I share my style, beauty tips, travel adventures and occasional ramblings. Marilicious is your online guide to shopping, style and beauty, Thank you for stopping by, I hope you’ll enjoy. With style, x M

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