Q&A: Free Radicals, Skin Rust, and How to Avoid It


~ Questions & Answers ~

Free Radical Damage, Skin Rust,

and How to Avoid It

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Skin Rust

Rusty skin? Yes ~ it might be a new way of saying it, but it happens to us every day.  

It's all about those free radicals... they aren't free at all. They're actually an expensive little molecule that can do damage to our body and our skin. Without the proper protection against these radicals, our skin can become loose, our skin's collagen can break down, and wrinkles and dark spots can appear prematurely.

How do we fight these little free radicals? Hello, antioxidants! Without the strength of an antioxidant coming to the rescue, a free radical can cause oxidation on the skin, or what's called skin rust... also known as premature aging. Think of a car that has paint or metal that has oxidized. It becomes rusty, the exterior starts to deteriorate, and looks older than it is. The same goes for our skin. 

Below: The "rusty wreck in the garden" photo by Stefan Rotter


Recently I was fortunate enough to answer these questions for Martha Stewart Living magazine. Even though free radicals are invisible, they're visibly making headlines as more research is done.

At Qēt, we always go the natural route, and I was honored to answer the questions provided.


Q. What are free radicals?

A. Free radicals are little atoms looking for a buddy to grab on to inside of our bodies. A free radical is what happens when an oxygen atom splits. There are billions of oxygen atoms in each of us... and they're constantly splitting. When they split, they oxidize, and they need to latch on to something healthy. For many of these little free radicals, they latch on to healthy skin cells and cause damage because of it.

In simple terms, free radicals are the nasties responsible for premature aging, for increasing fine lines, for damaging our skin's healthy collagen and suppleness, and even for developing dark spots.

Q. Which ones are the worst?

A. The biggest free radical offenders are not only UVA and UVB rays, but also pollution and blue light from our screens. Other free radicals that can harm us and our skin are synthetics and toxins in our skincare and cleaning products, smoke, dust, and even environmental pesticides.


Q. Where do they come from?

A. Free radicals and their harmful effects can actually come from both within our bodies and from outside sources, too.

Because our bodies are made up of 60-70% water, we naturally have billions of oxygen atoms. When they split from the healthy oxygen atom (which constantly happens), they're 'free' and are looking for something healthy to latch onto. There begins the free radical journey looking to find a buddy.

On the outside, pollution, as well as other forms of smoke and environmental toxins, can play a big role in causing an increase in free radical damage.


Q. Why are they bad?

A. When these little nasties split and become a free radical, they need something strong to latch on to so, unfortunately, it's often a healthy skin cell. Think of it as a selfish little atom that's looking to stay healthy by robbing one of our healthy skin cells. When it does that, it's causing damage to our skin's natural collagen production and the vitality of our skin. When the free radical grabs a hold of our skin cells, it can have a negative effect on our cells' DNA.

Q. What do they do to the skin?

A. Sensitive skin issues, premature aging, fine lines, broken blood vessels, and sagging skin. Because our bodies are roughly 60-70% water, we each have billions of them in our bodies as they split from a healthy oxygen atom. When that oxygen splits, it's called oxidation. The common example of what it's like is when you slice an apple and it turns brown, the oxygen is causing the apple to turn brown, and oxidize.

Oxidation on the skin is like turning the clock ahead and aging faster than normal. This is what's called "skin rust."  


Q. How can the damage be treated and prevented?

A. Antioxidants to the rescue! The antioxidants are the good guys that stop the free radicals in their tracks.

Antioxidants are made up of a variety of vitamins and natural compounds that are not only found in various foods that we eat, but various natural ingredients that can naturally be found in plant-based elements. Vitamins A, C, E are the most common and powerful antioxidants.

Including a variety of wholesome foods internally and wholesome ingredients externally is a wise and beneficial pairing that can help to avoid the free radicals from winning that battle.


Q. How long does it take to see results?

A. Our skin regenerates about every 28 days. As we get older and our skin cell turnover slows down, that turnover can take a little bit longer, sometimes 45-60 days.

With continued use of healthy skincare treatments that don't upset our skin's natural lipid barrier or microbiome, and with proper hydration and moisture that includes a variety of skin-benefitting antioxidants, results can be seen in about the same time as it takes the skin to regenerate ~ anywhere from 30 to 45 days. 

It's possible it might take a bit longer for more mature or dehydrated skin, but it's never too early or too late to start.


Q. Which antioxidants should I look for? How to use? Which ones work well together?

A. We are what we eat, and so is our skin. Our bodies and skin rely on us 100% to feed it right... eating antioxidant-rich foods can help internally fight the battle. 

Foods like carrots, squash, artichokes, cabbage, asparagus, avocados, kale, beets, broccoli and spinach are high in antioxidants. Leafy greens like kale and spinach are high in specific antioxidants that have been found to help protect our skin against sun damage, wrinkling, and even skin cancer.

Using skincare treatments with high levels of naturally occurring antioxidants and vitamins on a daily basis will also help. Unfortunately free radicals are part of our daily lives and our environment.

Q. So, what's the best way to combat these free radicals?

A. We can make healthy choices every day by reaching for fresh ingredients on our fork and using clean and vitamin-rich, natural, plant-based care products for our skin and body. We always say every little bit helps, and it all adds up to help fight those free radicals. We incorporate a well-rounded dose of Vitamins A, C, E, and even K in our body and facial serums, and our Purely Skin Suite Serum Boosts are those extra vitamins in their richest forms to be added as a boost when and where our skin needs it.

Starting small is better than not starting at all. Starting to incorporate these foods and skincare tips at the dinner table and in our skincare routines can help to increase the antioxidants to help fight those free radicals.

Our patience and persistence with the right foods and care products can help beat the free radical damage while benefiting our skin by helping it stay strong and vibrant through it all.


Let's Jump To It

As I mentioned in the Q&A, our face and body treatments are naturally and whole-heartedly already filled with the vitamins that feed our skin with a healthy dose of antioxidants.

Rather than adding a synthetic form of vitamins, usually they're in a powder form with added water or slipping agents to make them feel good, we go right to the source ~ the plant itself ~ and love and share those organic forms in generous, safe amounts in our enriched serums. 

Here's a list of our treatments to help fight skin rust:

Antioxidant-Rich Day and Night Serums:

Balancing Day Serum / Balancing Night Serum

Hydrating Day Serum / Hydrating Night Serum

Restoring Day Serum / Restoring Night Serum

Antioxidant-Rich Vitamin Serum Boosts:

Purely Cranberry Serum Boost

Purely Rosehip Serum Boost

Purely Squalane Serum Boost

We've Extended our Mother's Day Special 😀

In case you missed it, or you need a refresher, here is the full blog. We're share some of our favorite treatments to use and share, as well as the May special savings.


The May Special

Enter code LOVEMOM at checkout while in your shopping cart, or mention this special in one of our Skin Studios.

Remember, we want you to be 100% happy with your Qēt. We offer a 30-day exchange or refund policy.

Free sample with purchase. Free U.S. shipping over $35.

"At Qēt Botanicals, our perspective has always been an authentic, organic, and wholesome approach. It's caring for our skin and body with real ingredients that all of us, our hormones, and our bodies can recognize.

It's skin care.

It's body care. 

It's wellness care.

It's peace of mind care." 

Lisa Brill, CEO & Founder | Wife | Mom | Rosacea and Auto Immune Warrior | Sensitive Skin Gal | Clean Beauty Advocate 

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Just like we can't develop and strengthen our muscles on junk food, our skin can't become strong and fight free radicals with junk skin care. The bottom line is that when we can find and work with real ingredients, they offer real results.

Good for you for researching and reaching for safe and real ingredients. Thank you for being here, and we're happy to be on your clean journey with you.

Glow on!

~ Lisa


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~  effective, award-winning botanical treatments made without compromises ~