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Many patients come to us asking what they should put on their skin in the morning before starting their day. There is often a difference in day and night creams, though some skin care lines do a good job of combining ingredients into an all-purpose “moisturizer” for simplicity. However, some don’t. The general goal of a day cream should be to protect the skin, not just from dry air, wind and sun but also from oxidation. Oxidation is poorly understood by most people, but it is important because it is an integral part of the aging process.

Oxidation was historically defined as a chemical interaction between oxygen molecules and other substances. With a greater understanding of atomic particles and chemistry, it came to be realized that the key element of oxidation was the loss of an electron. So, now oxidation is defined as the chemical interaction between two substances in which an electron is lost. In the world of manufacturing, oxidation can be useful, such as when anodized aluminum is being created. However, oxidation is also what causes a cut apple to turn brown or metal to rust. Not very pretty!

Oxidation in our skin isn’t pretty either. It causes a cascade of events that result in damage to vulnerable components of our skin. These include lipids, proteins and DNA, all things vital to maintaining a normal, youthful skin structure.

UV radiation, tobacco, excess alcohol, poor diet, skin irritants and lack of sleep are just some of the stressors that cause the creation of free radicals. Free radicals are molecules with unpaired – or “free” – electrons. They interact with the lipids, DNA and proteins in our tissues, causing them to oxidize, or give up an electron. Fortunately, the body has some natural protection against the development of free radicals, but unfortunately, we tend to produce fewer of these molecules as we age. That is why bumping up our protection with topical as well as oral antioxidants becomes increasingly important.

Vitamin C is one of the best-known antioxidants. Not only is it important to have vitamin C in our diets, but also there is science to support the topical use of vitamin C. However, not all vitamin C creams are created equal. The formulation of the vitamin C is important in determining whether it is absorbed into the skin.

Idebenone is one of the most potent antioxidants to be identified. Much of the intrinsic oxidation process takes place within the mitochondria of cells, and idebenone has been shown to target mitochondria. Also, it is such a small molecule that it penetrates the skin very well. Idebenone is present in many Priori® skin care products and in select Obagi® products as well.

If you have questions about choosing the right day cream for you, call us at (905) 273-3045 to book a free skin care consultation.

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