SHTRANDS PERSONALIZED HAIR CARE REGIMEN: REVIEW & COUPON

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Nothing makes me more excited than trying out a new subscription box.

From Stitch Fix to Birchbox, I get the same feeling as I do opening presents on Christmas morning while I’m opening a new subscription box!

So when I was given the opportunity to try a Shtrands personalized hair care regimen, I was all for it. If your goal is to achieve healthy, beautiful hair while saving yourself time and money, keep scrolling to read my full review on how Shtrands can do just that! 

(Hint: If you’re a blonde, you have to read how the purple shampoo in my Shtrands box saved my blonde hair!)

 

Disclosure: This box was received for review purposes.

Shtrands Personalized Hair Care Regimens

What is a Shtrands Personalized Hair Care Regimen?

If you haven’t heard of Shtrands yet, here’s a quick summary: 

Shtrands is an online platform that recommends and delivers truly personalized high-quality hair care regimens, based on a subscription model. Every regimen consists of a combination of 4 full sized products among them, cleansing, conditioning treatment and styling products.

Essentially, Shtrands provides you with the formula for hair care success:

Expert recommendations + high-quality products + convenient delivery

  • Expert recommendations: A team of certified hairstylists and cosmetics chemists recommend personalized hair care regimens that are unique to each customer’s needs.
  • High-quality products: Shtrands works with a broad variety of brands, from salon indie brands to emerging and established professional hair care brands. Before they bring a new brand on board they test and carry trials with each product to ensure they a high-quality, which I thought was very impressive.
  • Convenient delivery to your front door: All hair care regimens are delivered to your doorstep (with free shipping!) so that you can achieve salon results at home.

THE SHTRANDS PROCESS

To get started, you’ll first choose from one of the following three subscription plans:

  • Most popular: $59 for one regimen delivered every other month
  • Try it: $59 for one regimen delivered every 3 months
  • Best value: 6-month plan, pay $149 upfront for one regimen delivered every other month (15% savings)

The best part is that all of the subscriptions come with free shipping to the continental US!

Shtrands Personalized Hair Care Regimens Subscription Plans

 

All subscription plans have the same structure for the hair care regimen: a combination of 4 full size products among cleansing, conditioning, treatment, and styling products.

The products are handpicked by the experts based on your specific hair care needs. In order to match you with the best products, you’ll be directed to fill out a questionnaire after you have chosen the subscription plan that works best for you.

Shtrands Profile Quiz

I was very impressed with the questionnaire, which on the website is referred to as a “Profile Quiz.” It asked detailed questions so that the Shtrands team could have a complete understanding of my hair type, my current hair care practices, and my main hair concerns.

To give you an example, here is a screenshot from my Profile Quiz:

SHTRANDS PROFILE QUIZ

I filled out the profile quiz as thoroughly as I could, with an emphasis on two major hair concerns:

  1. The tendency for my blonde color to get yellow/brassy very quickly
  2. DAMAGE (split ends, frizz, breakage, etc.)

I have these hair concerns because well, I’m obsessed with being a blonde.

HOW SHTRANDS HELPED MY BLONDE HAIR

While my hair is naturally a dirty blonde, I’ve been highlighting it since I was in middle school. And it has come a long way since those middle school days of streaky yellow highlights that now make me cringe when I see yearbook pictures.

Now, I prefer my hair to be as light and cool as possible without looking bleached out. Besides getting it heavily toned when I’m at the salon, I have used a variety of purple shampoos/conditioners over the years to prevent it from turning yellow. Before Shtrands, my favorite was the Joico Purple Shampoo.

 

BLONDE HAIR DOWNTOWN ALPHARETTA

While I love the look of my blonde hair, I hate how damaging it can be! And trust me, my hair has seen its fair share of damage. I’m talking split ends and frizz so bad that I’ve taken scissors to them myself because I couldn’t stand it anymore.

It hasn’t been that bad in a while, but I still wanted to convey to the Shtrands team my desire for products that would combat damage as much as possible. After I completed the Profile Quiz, that was it! The Shtrands team used the information that I provided to choose the best products to fit my hair care needs.

 

The Shtrands Subscription Box

My Shtrands box was delivered right to my doorstep via USPS after just two days. Upon opening the box, I found a handwritten note along with a canvas tote that held the products.

SHTRANDS SUBSCRIPTION BOX REVIEW

I thought the handwritten note added a personal touch, something that you don’t see too often nowadays. The note described which products were included in my hair care regimen as well as how to use each of them.

SHTRANDS PERSONALIZED HAIR CARE REGIMENS REVIEW

One of my favorite parts of this subscription box was the canvas tote that held the products. I was not aware that the subscription came with this tote, so it was definitely a pleasant surprise!

Plus, the tote is high quality: it feels very durable and has a zipper closure along with a loop handle on the side. It is large enough to hold all four products plus has room for either one more product or a brush – perfect for use during travel.

SHTRANDS SUBSCRIPTION BOX CANVAS TOTE

First impression with my Shtrands personalized hair care regimen? I thought the whole process was simple and the presentation was very high quality, surpassing my expectations. Now, onto the products!

My experience with the products

I am happy to say that the Shtrands team listened to my concerns and provided products that would best fit my needs.

Each item in my Shtrands personalized hair care regimen was from the company Abril et Nature, a brand out of Barcelona. I had not previously heard of this brand, but I am always open to trying something new!

SHTRANDS PERSONALIZED HAIR CARE REGIMENS

After doing some research, I discovered that Abril et Nature has been in business since 1998 and has 9 different lines of hair care products which are only available for purchase by salons and certified hair care professionals.

Below are the products that I received as part of my Shtrands personalized hair care regimen along with a brief description of each:

 

Rehydration Shampoo & Instant Mask

ABRIL ET NATURE REHYDRATION LINE

Both the shampoo and instant mask (which I was instructed to use as a regular conditioner) that I received were from the Abril et Nature Rehydration Treatment Line.

This line contains all kinds of healthy hair ingredients, such as amino acids that serve to hydrate the hair fiber from the inside and lipids that closely mimic those that are normally found on the scalp, which provides protection and shine.

But what I was most excited about from this line was the UV-filter in these products. Did you know that excessive sun exposure can damage the structural integrity of the hair strand? Signs of sun-damaged hair include discoloration, dry and brittle strands, thinning, frizziness, and broken or split ends. Knowing that these products had a UV-filter built in to protect my hair against damages from the sun made me feel at ease because I’m always outside in the summer!

 

Silk treatment 

ABRIL ET NATURE SILK TREATMENT

The Silk Treatment Instant Mask is part of Abril et Nature’s Keratin Line, which is specially designed to regenerate hair damaged by coloring or bleaching. The keratin seals and coats the color, adding plenty of moisture, shine, and softness.

 

Silver shampoo

SHTRANDS PERSONALIZED HAIR CARE REGIMENS SILVER SHAMPOO

The use of either a silver or purple shampoo for blondes and women with grey/platinum hair is an absolute must to keep brassy tones at bay.

The Abril et Nature silver shampoo contains a micro-suspension of emollient oils that increases color intensity and shine. Plus, this line also contains UV filters to avoid damage from sun exposure.

Keep reading to hear about my amazing results with this silver shampoo!

 

 

Value

All products sent in a Shtrands personalized hair care regimen (not just by Abril et nature) are valued between $20 and $25. So the total cost of these products outside of Shtrands would be between $80 and $100. I’d say that’s a really great value considering the regimens are $59!

 

My Results

I am writing this review after using my Shtrands personalized hair care regimen for almost two weeks. This may not seem like enough time to see results, but I noticed a difference in my hair after just one wash!

I have to start with my favorite product: the Silver Shampoo! After the first time washing my hair with the silver shampoo, I could not believe how well this product worked. I had finished drying my hair, looked at my reflection in the mirror, and all I could say was WOW! It was the perfect shade of blonde. No exaggeration here. SHTRANDS PERSONALIZED HAIR CARE REGIMEN RESULTS

 

Aside from my infatuation with the Silver Shampoo, I was also thoroughly impressed with the other Abril et Nature products. Using the Rehydration Shampoo, the first thing that I noticed was that my hair was actually soft and not tangled after rinsing the shampoo. Normally, my hair would be tangled and screaming for conditioner after using any other shampoo!

The Rehydration Instant Mask amplified the softness of my hair. I left it on for several minutes, rinsed, and upon getting out of the shower get this: I could actually run a comb through my hair! Normally, I have to apply a leave-in conditioner, such as the Framesi Color Lover Primer 11. It’s safe to say that I will be able to eliminate the need to have to purchase/use this product because my hair is tangle-free after using the Abril et Nature products!

Lastly, the Shtrands team instructed me to use the Silk Treatment just once a week, so I’ve only used it twice now, but I’ve already noticed some major differences in my hair:

  • There’s a reason it’s called the silk treatment… I couldn’t get over the smooth, silky feel of my hair after rinsing this product out!
  • I no longer have flyaways!! I have been styling my hair with the same practices (blow-drying, curling iron, straightener) but now I don’t have flyaways creeping up on the top of my head
  • My damaged areas are less frizzy

Clearly, I loved all 4 of my products in my Shtrands personalized hair care regimen. But the neat thing about Shtrands is if I wanted a different product for my next subscription, all I have to do is let them know. Or I could receive a whole new regimen if that is what I wanted – so the regimens are truly personalized!

Final thoughts

Overall, my Shtrands personalized hair care regimen surpassed my expectations.

I thought the process of filling out a Profile Quiz was extremely well-thought out as well as user-friendly. The presentation of the Shtrands subscription box (handwritten card + canvas tote + products) was very high quality and personal. The hair care products have given me amazing results so far, I still cannot believe what a difference they have made in such a short period of time.

I think what impressed me the most was the ingenuity of this unique service. Shtrands goes beyond broad classifications and customizes hair care regimens specifically for you and your hair type. This service can eliminate the guesswork that comes with trying new products and can also give you peace of mind knowing your regimen has been selected specifically for you!

So would you like to try a Shtrands personalized hair care regimen?

All of my readers can get 15% off any subscription by entering the coupon code HAIRLOVE.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on Shtrands! Leave me a comment below 🙂

 

DOES DRINKING WATER IMPROVE YOUR SKIN’S COMPLEXION?

I die a little inside every time I hear someone say to me…

“I’ve started drinking more water to help clear my skin.”

Does drinking water improve your complexion?

Biting my tongue, I keep my thoughts to myself because I know that I wouldn’t have the time to fully explain why drinking water is not going to clear their skin.

In fact, a 2010 article published in the scholarly journal Nutrition Reviews confirms the absurdity of this claim by stating:

“One of the more pervasive myths regarding water intake is the improvement of the skin or complexion. Numerous lay sources such as beauty and health magazines as well as the Internet suggest that drinking 8–10 glasses of water a day will ‘flush toxins from the skin’ and ‘give a glowing complexion’ despite a general lack of evidence to support these proposals.”

Now, don’t get me wrong, I understand that drinking water is important for our overall health and I’m certainly not writing this post to discourage you from drinking water.

In fact, during my research I even found a few small studies that demonstrated improvements in skin hydration. Adequate skin hydration, however, is not sufficient to clear acne or to prevent wrinkles and other concerns related to skin complexion.(1)

So if you are forcing yourself to drink gallons of water a day in the hopes of improving your complexion, I hope you’ll take the time to read the facts, evidence, and reputable sources that back this article. My goal is to put an end to the belief that drinking water can improve your complexion!

The science of drinking water

The reason why there is a lack of evidence supporting the claim that drinking water can improve skin’s complexion can be explained by science.

Let’s think about it from an anatomical perspective:

When you drink water, it begins its decent through the digestive tract. The majority of fluids in the diet are absorbed in the duodenum (the proximal small intestine) and the rate at which these fluids are absorbed is dictated by the rate of gastric emptying to the small intestine.(1)  Clear fluids, such as water, are emptied from the stomach rapidly (T1/2  30 minutes).(2)

SMALL INTESTINE

Image from WebMD

 

No matter how much water is consumed, the rate of water absorption is still dependent upon gastric emptying rate and is limited by the absorption capacity of the intestines. Even if there is an increased absorption of water through the intestines, it’s not like this excess water is going to be delivered straight to your skin cells. As if your body knows that you want to minimize the appearance of wrinkles on your face.

California dermatologist Dr. Katie Rodan gives the perfect analogy to explain this concept.

“Humans aren’t like plants. Our skin doesn’t perk up when we consume water. Water doesn’t go straight to the skin, it goes through the intestines, gets absorbed into your bloodstream, and is filtered by the kidneys. Then it hydrates cells.” (3)

Human Aren't Like Plants

The relationship between water and your skin

However, an important relationship does exist between water and our skin: the skin maintains water levels in the body by preventing the loss of water into the environment. This is accomplished due to the overlapping cellular structure of the stratum corneum and lipid content of the skin, which serves as “waterproofing” for the body. (1)

The cause of skin dryness has been associated with many factors, including exposure to dry air, prolonged contact with hot water, scrubbing with soap, various diseases, and some medications.

Of note, severe levels of dehydration can manifest in reduced skin turgor (the skin’s ability to change shape and return to normal) with tenting of the skin as a flag for dehydration. (1)

Studies and expert opinions

Everyday Health featured an article titled “10 Myths and Facts About Water” in which one of the myths included “drinking water can help keep your skin moist.” To confirm, Amy Hess-Fischl, RD, CDE, explains:

“Unless the individual is severely dehydrated, drinking large quantities of water will not prevent dry skin. Basically, the moisture level of skin is not determined by internal factors. Instead, external factors such as skin cleansing, the environment, the number of oil glands, and the functioning of these oil-producing glands determine how dry the skin is or will become. The water that is consumed internally will not reach the epidermis [the top layer of the skin].” (4)

Another expert that has debunked the myth that water will improve complexion is Dr. Mehmet Oz, cardiothoracic surgeon and TV personality. This myth was tested by researchers along with 40 other experiments in the five-part television series called The Truth About Food, hosted by Dr. Oz.

In a survey for The Truth About Food, 85 percent of those surveyed reported that they believed a person should drink at least a half-gallon of water each day to keep their skin looking young. To put this myth to the test, Dr. Oz conducted a very small experiment with twins Susie and Alice. Both women admitted to drinking a lot of water (up to a liter and a half per day) because they believed it made a difference in their skin.

To determine whether water really does make a difference, researchers first measured the moisture, elasticity and oiliness of each girl’s skin. Over the next week, the twins ate the same diet-except Alice drank plenty of water, and Suzie drank no water. (5)

Dr. Oz says whether the twins drank water or not made no difference to their skin. Why? Dr. Oz explains that the main reason for this we get enough water from the foods we eat every day and the effects of drinking extra water are negligible.

My last expert opinion comes from Paula Begun, the author of 20+ best-selling books on cosmetics, busts this beauty myth by saying:

“If all it took to get rid of dry skin was to drink more water, then no one would have dry skin and moisturizers would stop being sold. Ironically, dry skin is not as simple as just a lack of water. So, drinking more water won’t make dry skin look or feel better (but you will be visiting the bathroom more frequently!).”

So what can you do to improve your complexion?

Fortunately, you control 80% of your skin’s destiny. Your complexion can be improved by following these 3 main principles:

  1. Eat the right kinds of foods
  2. Be cautious of what you expose your skin to
  3. Use an appropriate moisturizer

 

What are the right kinds of foods?

Dr. Leslie Baumann, a professor of dermatology at the University of Miami Florida suggest to incorporate foods in your diet that are high in essential fatty acids to help skin cells stay hydrated. Examples of foods rich in EFAs include walnuts, flaxseed, salmon, and olive oil. (3)

walnuts

 

What should I avoid exposing my skin to?

The following factors will strip oil from your skin, leaving it dry and more prone to breakouts and signs of aging:

  • Prolonged exposure to hot water
  • Dry air
  • Extreme weather conditions
  • Harsh soaps and astringents

 

How can I choose an appropriate moisturizer?

Moisturizers are intended to coat the skin to prevent it from losing water as well as provide protection and healing.

A good moisturizer should also be hypoallergenic, non-sensitizing, and non-comedogenic. (6)

There are three types of moisturizers:

1. Occlusive – physically prevent against water loss by forming a thin film over the surface of the skin and can be very helpful for severe dryness. However, they can be messy and not very cosmetically appealing (these mostly consist of oils)

2. Humectant – absorb water from the atmosphere and also from the lower layers of the skin, making the upper skin that is touchable, more moisturized. (7) One negative about humectants is their potential to draw water from surrounding cells that can actually dry the skin further. (6)

3. Reparative – combine the properties of both occlusive and humectant moisturizers.

 

Is your goal to improve your skin’s hydration?

In May, dermatologists Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields released a product that can raise the skin’s hydration level by 200%! It’s called Active Hydration Serum, and if you haven’t tried it yet, you need to! Read my full review on Active Hydration Serum here.

Rodan and Fields Active Hydration Serum Review

So does drinking water improve your complexion?

Using the research and expert opinions that I outlined in this article along with my own personal experience I have concluded that no, drinking water does not improve your complexion.

Yes, that is right I, too, fell for this myth a while back. Mostly due to desperation because for some reason I started getting horrible acne. Like painful cystic acne. Nothing I put on my face helped it. Not even prescription products!

While this is embarrassing to admit, I started to try to drink a gallon of water every day after watching a YouTube video by some guy who said it had cleared his acne. Well, the only thing this habit did was make me have to pee about 1294948 times a day.

What did work for me was when I started to clean up my diet, investing in my skin with the Unblemish regimen, and committing to taking care of my face better.

 

 

 

References:

  1. Nutr Rev. 2010 Aug; 68(8): 439–458.
  2. https://www.aic.cuhk.edu.hk/web8/gastric_emptying.htm
  3. https://www.futurederm.com/will-drinking-water-improve-skin-hydration-2/
  4. http://www.everydayhealth.com/diet-nutrition/10-myths-and-facts-about-water.aspx
  5. http://www.oprah.com/health/Dr-Oz-on-Food-Myths_1/11
  6. http://www.the-dermatologist.com/article/2766 
  7. https://www.futurederm.com/what-are-the-differences-between-occlusive-humectant-and-reparative-moisturizers/ 

7 SKINCARE PRODUCTS YOU NEED TO ADD TO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE

Taking care of my skin is extremely important to me. Not only does taking care of my skin help me to look my best, it also helps me to feel my best. A clear, healthy, glowing complexion is one important aspect of having self-confidence. It’s the first thing people see, after all!

My goal is, of course, to always be confident in my own skin and not have to rely on heavy foundation/concealer/cover-up/whatever to hide my face. That’s just not what I’m about! So in this post I’m sharing 7 skin care products you need to add to your daily routine. These are my favorite products that I use on a daily basis to help me to achieve that dewy, sun-kissed glow – in a natural way!

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links.

Skin Care Products You Need to Add to Your Daily Routine

Jojoba Oil 100% Natural Makeup Remover

1. Makeup remover: Jojoba oil 100% natural makeup remover

Let me just preface with this: mascara is my thing! If I were stranded on an island and could only bring one makeup product with me, I’d bring my mascara. Long lashes are powerful, ladies. That being said, I greatly dislike the process of removing my mascara. Until I found jojoba oil, however.

At first I was afraid of putting straight oil on my face since my skin is naturally on the oily side and has a tendency to break out. However, I learned that jojoba oil is non-comedogenic because of how closely it mimics human sebum (natural oil produced by skin). It actually helps to control acne by signaling to the sebaceous glands to stop overproducing sebum, thus decreasing the chances of the pores getting clogged with excess oil. 

Besides help to remove makeup and control acne, jojoba oil also helps to keep the skin hydrated by forming a protective barrier on the top layer of skin thereby trapping in moisture. 

Using jojoba oil as a makeup remover effectively removed all traces of makeup and leaves my face feeling soft. I’ll never use another makeup remover again!

2. Cleanser: Rodan + Fields REDEFINE Daily Cleansing Mask  Kaolin based DAILY CLEANSING MASK

To this day I am still in awe of how soft this product leaves my face feeling. The secret behind how this mask softens the skin so well is the kaolin. Kaolin is a soft, earthy white clay mineral that is environmentally safe to use in cosmetics and skincare products. The REDEFINE Daily Cleansing Mask will draw any and all impurities from your pores without robbing your skin of essential moisture. I use it both morning and night!

 

 

3. Toner: Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner  Burt's Bees Rosewater Toner

The Burt’s Bees Rosewater Toner is light, refreshing, and the scent is like a garden of roses – literally. While there are many other toners that I have used and loved, this one made the cut because it is perfect for any skin type and does not dry out the skin at all.

 

 

 

4. Antioxidant serum: FutureDerm CE Caffeic Silk Serum 16 + 2  FutureDerm CE Caffeic Serum

Two words come to mind every time I apply this serum: smooth and silky! Not only does the FutureDerm CE Caffeic Silk Serum feel great, it can give you real results. The unprecedented 16% vitamin C, 2% vitamin E, and caffeic acid are all excellent antioxidants that help scavenge UV-induced free radicals as well as stimulate collagen production in the skin. I apply this serum every morning underneath of my moisturizer to have bright, smooth skin all day long.

 

5. Daytime moisturizer: Neutrogena oil-free moisture SPF 15  Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisture SPF 15

I have two main priorities when choosing a moisturizer to use during the day: one, of course, is to protect against sun damage, and the second is to moisturize without clogging my pores. Neutrogena’s oil-free moisture accomplishes both of these tasks, which is why it is one of my favorite daytime moisturizers.

According to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, SPF 15 block 94% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays, which is why I use this moisturizer for every day use when I’m out and about. However, if I’m planning to hit the beach for the day I’ll bump up to a moisturizer with SPF 30, which blocks 97% of the sun’s UV  rays.

 

6. Night cream: FutureDerm Time Release Retinol 0.5 FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol

After months of dealing with red, irritated, peeling skin from my prescription strength retinoid (tretinoin 0.05%) I had pretty much dismissed all retinoid products, despite their reputation as being the gold standard of anti-aging skincare. But after my success with the FutureDerm CE Caffeic Silk Serum, I was excited to try the FutureDerm Time Release Retinol 0.5. I’m happy to say that I’ve had success with this retinol product! It is gentle and does not irritate my skin. While I’m lucky enough to not have to deal with wrinkles yet, I am using this product nightly to help delay the development of wrinkles and other signs of aging.

7. Eye cream: Rodan + Fields multifunction eye cream Rodan + Fields Multi-function eye cream

I cannot even begin to describe how much time (and money!) I’ve spent trying to find an adequate eye cream. Although I am only in my twenties, I wanted to start using an eye cream to prevent signs of aging and minimize the crow’s feet that were already starting to creep up around my eyes.

After my first use of the R+F multifunction eye cream, I knew my search was over. It was the first eye cream that did not leave the skin surrounding my eyes irritated, red, and dry. Rather, it was very smooth, moisturizing, and soothing. Within about a month of nightly use the lines around my eyes were less noticeable. It has even helped to reduce puffiness and dark circles that I tend to get after a few too many nights with not enough sleep!

 

All from my own personal use and experience, those are the 7 skin care products that I recommend to add to your daily routine. Do you have any go-to products in your daily skin care routine? Leave me a comment below! 🙂

 

 

FREE RADICALS AND ANTIOXIDANTS: BREAKING IT DOWN

The topic of free radicals and antioxidants can be complex, so that’s why I’m going to break it down for you! This post will cover exactly what free radicals and antioxidants are, and why they are important in both your diet and your skin care routine.

Free Radicals and Antioxidants

So what is an antioxidant?

Let’s break it down: As we know “anti” means opposed to, therefore we know that antioxidants are substances that are opposed to oxidants.

…but what are oxidants?

Oxidants, also called free radicals, are substances that have the ability to oxidize other substances (cause them to lose electrons). They have an unpaired electron in their atomic orbital, but are still able to exist independently. An atomic orbital is capable of holding two electrons, but free radicals only have one unpaired electron, which makes the free radical unstable and highly reactive.

When free radicals contain oxygen, they are called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Under normal conditions, oxygen molecules are stable and nonreactive because they have an even number of electrons. Once again, however, when reactions occur that leave the oxygen molecule with an odd number of electrons, the molecule becomes unstable and highly reactive.

Why are free radicals bad?

Due to the high reactivity of free radicals, they will attempt to either donate that single electron to another molecule or accept an electron from another molecule so that they can become stabilized. This can lead to a chain of events that starts ripping electrons off surrounding molecules. 

The problem arises when the free radicals react with our important cellular components, such as DNA, proteins, carbohydrates, or the cell membrane. When this happens, the cells become dysfunctional or undergo apoptosis (cell death). Collectively, the damage to cells in our body is referred to as oxidative stress. Many environmental factors can lead to oxidative stress, such as pollution, cigarette smoke, UV radiation, chemicals, etc. 

Free radicals and antioxidants

Fortunately, the body has a defense mechanism against free radicals: antioxidants. Antioxidants work through many different mechanisms, with the main objective being to interfere with oxidative processes that produce harmful free radicals and ROS. For example, they may act by scavenging free radicals and breaking the chain of reactions, by binding metal ions, or by removing oxidatively damaged biomolecules. (Karger, 2001) 

In order for the body to defend against free radicals, it must be supported with antioxidants. Some antioxidants are produced by our bodies and others we must obtain from our diet. There are hundreds and hundreds of antioxidants that come from different foods such as fruits and vegetables, but here are some of the more common antioxidants:

  • Alpha tocopherol (vitamin E)
  • Ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
  • Beta carotene
  • Lycopene
  • Resveratrol
  • Selenium

Under ideal circumstances, the body can balance the level of antioxidants with the number of free radicals it’s exposed to in order to prevent them from damaging cells. However, this balance can be disrupted by factors like poor nutrition and toxin exposure, which causes the level of antioxidants in the body to be lower than that of free radicals. When this happens, oxidative processes can wreak havoc in the body, manifesting as accelerated aging, damaged or mutated cells, an overloaded immune system, and the activation of harmful genes within DNA. (Dr. Axe)

 

So how do we prevent free radical damage?

Of course, the first and most important way to prevent free radical damage is to intake enough antioxidants through our diet. If you eat a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables, you are probably getting the right amount of antioxidants. However, if you want to up your antioxidant game, check out this top 10 list of foods containing the highest amount of antioxidants.

 

TOP 10 FOOD SOURCES THAT ARE HIGH IN ANTIOXIDANTSFree Radicals and Antioxidants

  1. Rice bran (24,287)
  2. Dark chocolate (20,816)
  3. Black raspberries (19,220)
  4. Semi-sweet chocolate  (18,053)
  5. Pecans (17,940)
  6. Ginger root, raw (14,840)
  7. Elderberries (14.697)
  8. Golden raisins (10,450)
  9. Black chia seeds (9,800)
  10. Blueberries (9,621)

I created this top 10 list of foods based on the 2017 data developed by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). (Superfoodly.com)

The foods are in descending order based on their ORAC scores with rice bran being the highest 24,287 ORAC score and blueberries coming in at a 9,621 ORAC score.

(psst…if you are like I was and are wondering what ORAC score means I’ll fill you in: ORAC stands for Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity and it is a lab test that determines the amount of antioxidant activity the food has in the body.)

Of note, there are many herbs and spices (such as oregano, cinnamon, and turmeric) that have higher ORAC values than the foods I listed, but I did not add these because I wanted to mainly focus on antioxidants in foods.

I cannot even begin to describe the excitement I felt when I saw that dark chocolate is one of the foods that contains a high amount of antioxidants! I love dark chocolate.

Free Radicals and AntioxidantsAlso, while it does not make the top 10 list, coffee has also been shown to have antioxidant properties! Win for all of us coffee-addicts!

No need to worry my tea-lovers: the polyphenols found in green tea can help prevent against depletion of antioxidant enzymes. (FutureDerm)

 

BENEFITS OF ADDING ANTIOXIDANT RICH FOODS TO YOUR DIET:

  • Bright, glowing, healthy skin
  • Slows down the aging process as it relates to skin, eyes, brain, joints, etc.
  • Protection against cardiovascular disease
  • Decreases risk for developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease
  • Less risk of vision disorders (i.e. cataracts)
  • And more!!

Click here to try my Antioxidant Smoothie Recipe & learn how you can start incorporating antioxidants into your diet TODAY!

THE ROLE OF ANTIOXIDANTS IN SKIN CARE

As mentioned above, eating a diet rich in antioxidants can help keep your skin looking youthful. But what about all of the skincare products that are marketed to contain antioxidants?

Using an antioxidant skincare product is one of the best ways to keep your complexion bright and glowing. When applied topically, antioxidants can help to prevent free radical accumulation from common stressors (UV radiation, chemicals, other toxins) that can destroy our skin’s collagen, thus causing wrinkles and other signs of aging.Free radicals and antioxidants

During my research, I found that certain antioxidants are especially potent when applied topically, including

 

  • Vitamins C and E
  • Ferulic acid
  • Caffeic acid
  • Phloretin
  • Resveratrol
  • Green tea
  • Grapeseed extract
  • Coenzyme Q10

 

So are all antioxidant skincare products created equal? Well, not exactly. Below are my top 3 picks for the most effective antioxidant serums on the market:

 

1.FutureDerm vitamin CE caffeic silk serum 16+2 This product has a smooth and silky application and it can give you real results. The unprecedented 16% vitamin C, 2% vitamin E, and caffeic acid are all excellent antioxidants that help scavenge UV-induced free radicals as well as stimulate collagen production in the skin.

 

2. Rodan and Fields REVERSE Dual Active Brightening Complex – This product contains vitamin C to effectively brighten the skin along with retinol to diminish signs of wrinkles and fine lines. Plus, this R+F combo is formulated with Kojic Acid and Licorice to improve the appearance of uneven skin tone over time.

 

3. Skinceuticals CE Ferulic – This product combines L-ascorbic acid (vitamin C), alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E), and ferulic acid (a polyphenol) to maximize antioxidant performance. It made the top 3 list because of its proven efficacy: in 2003, an independent study by Lin et. al. found that the solution of 15% L-ascorbic acid and 1% alpha-tocopherol increases photoprotection against damaging UV rays and free radical formation.

 

Keep in mind that the best way to reap all of the benefits of antioxidants is to incorporate them into your skincare routine and your diet. This is because some topical products cannot reach the deepest layers of the skin and antioxidants in foods and supplements may not make it to the top layers, according to Dr. Leslie Baumann, M.D., dermatologist in Miami, Florida.

 

So what are your thoughts on antioxidants? Do you have any favorite products? Share in the comments below 🙂

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