The aging process is an accumulation of events. Humans are composed of specialized cells that perform specific functions in the body. Over the course of a lifetime, these cells become damaged and eventually the collective cells that make up organs become so damaged that the organ fails to function. Most of this damage is caused by free radicals that are minute chemical particles (atoms or groups of atoms) which are frequently the by-products of chemical processes. When two chemicals join together to form another chemical, some particles are eliminated and these can be free radicals. Free radicals have at least one unpaired electron, causing the chemical particle to be unstable. Free radicals can steal an electron and break down another biomolecule sometimes causing little or no damage. If a free radical steals an electron from one of the proteins that is contained in a strand of collagen (rather than a loose protein), it causes a change in the chemical structure of the collagen at that point and causes a break in the collagen strand. This is damage. Once a bundle of collagen has multiple points of damage which occurs over years, the strand of collagen becomes dysfunctional and loses its elastic quality. The skin begins to sag. Over time, free radical damage happens to the various components of the body and this damage becomes progressive.

Free radicals chip away at cell walls, molecule by molecule, making holes. The cells leak and lose their chemical balances. Subsequent free radicals are able to chip away at DNA, making cells dysfunctional. If this damage affects cellular DNA, the cell may malfunction and this is what happens cell by cell over the lifetime of a human being, ultimately causing entire organs to malfunction. If the DNA of basal keratinocytes, for example, are damaged the cells may become dysfunctional and the basal cells will reproduce cells that are equally as damaged and dysfunctional, resulting in the aging and dysfunction of the skin and its various components. Aging is simply the progression of damage, caused by free radicals.

The major creators of free radicals in the skin are: Unprotected sun exposure, products applied to the skin that produce free radicals, pollution and normal chemical processes such as producing and using energy, producing skin components such as lipids, and other daily chemical processes that give off free-radicals as a natural byproduct. The way to slow the process of skin aging is as easy as reducing the volume of non-essential free radical activity in the skin. If one source of free radical production is addressed (for example unprotected sun exposure), there will be a slowing of skin aging process and if two or three sources of free radical production are addressed (such as unprotected sun exposure and free radical producing skin care products and pollution) there will be a greater degree of slowing the skin aging process. These are therefore anti-aging actions.

Most of the processes that occur in the skin emit free radicals. In the body, the processing of food, producing energy and using energy creates free radicals. Breathing and using muscles to perform functions creates free radicals. Manufacturing collagen or lipids or pigment produces free radicals. These free radicals can create damage to the components of the skin as they steal an electron from another component to make themselves complete and stable.

Between birth and approximately age 27, the body’s antioxidant integrity is equal to, or greater than, the free radical activity and there is less damage. After age 27 the antioxidant integrity declines below the level of free radical activity and damage progressively increases. By ate82 it is estimated that the process of free radical damage is 60 times greater than at age 22.

It is also estimated that each keratinocyte in our skin has 5000 exposures to free radicals every day. As a result, the skin has the potential to age faster than any other organ in the body, and because of a decreased supply of antioxidants, the aging process becomes faster every year.

Many “oxygen creams” contain hydrogen peroxide and it is claimed that the hydrogen peroxide converts to oxygen within the skin. In reality hydrogen peroxide is a free radical and the healthy rosy glow from applying these oxygen creams is the same rosy glow caused by elevated free radical activities following unprotected sun damage, as elements of the skin are damaged by free radicals. Application of products to the skin that contains free radicals or generates free radicals, increases the speed of skin damage or more commonly called skin aging.

Benzoyl peroxide is another example of topically applied free radicals. People who have treated chronic acne with benzoyl peroxide frequently learn too late that they have severely aged their skin well beyond its chronological age and may have increased their potential of skin cancer.

Antioxidants are able to donate an electron to a free radical, stabilizing the free radical and stopping the chain of chemical reactions and potential damage. Antioxidants are able to accommodate the missing electron without becoming reactive (a free radical). In this manner antioxidants prevent free radical damage, or in other words, they slow the aging process.

Repair still occurs as we age but like most other processes it occurs at a slower pace. When the volume of free radical damage greatly exceeds the speed of the repair process, then the aging process marches forward. If, on the other hand, the volume of free radical damage drops to less than the speed of the repair process then anti-aging and rejuvenation occurs. In this aspect, a highly effective anti-aging program can actually become regenerative.

People who eat a diet rich in antioxidants become aged (damaged) at a lower rate than others. In general, colorful fruits and vegetables are foods that are rich in antioxidants. Supplements such as green tea, vitamin C, vitamin E, hydrocotyl (centella asiatica/gotu kola), pomegranate, grape seed, alpha-lipoic acid, etc. are loaded with antioxidants and can protect the body from free radical damage. BiON also uses these same antioxidants in many of our products.

It Is estimated that only about 2-3% of the antioxidants we eat, get to the skin because of the body’s demand for antioxidants. Topically applied antioxidants in an absorbable form can reduce skin damage significantly by putting the anti-aging mechanisms directly into the skin. This is especially true of the epidermis which has no direct supply of blood to provide antioxidants and has the greatest exposure to sun and pollution generated free radicals. The skin can tolerate and benefit from an infinite supply of antioxidants which will slow the skin’s aging process to a trickle…provided the skin is protected from sun damage, and free radicals are not applied to the skin.

Photoaging: The short wavelengths of UVB light tends to do most of its damage in the epidermis, while the longer wavelengths of UVA light produces damage in the dermis. When these small particles of light energy strike a component of skin where the light wave (photon) stops, the energy released alters the chemistry of that component and causes damage to the component. This is the initial damage. These chemical changes also produce free radicals and these radicals continue on to cause additional damage to other skin components, as explained previously. Unprotected sun exposure produces double levels of damage; the initial energy damage and the secondary free radical damage.

In time photo damage and subsequent free radical damage cause collagen to become broken and dysfunctional. Melanocyte (pigment) cells become dysfunctional and produce volumes of pigment that result in age spots and other forms of pigment. Fibroblast cells become dysfunctional and do not produce new collagen. Macrophage cells fail to perform adequate skin immune functions, etc.

At one time, as much as 90% of the visible damage in aging was thought to be caused by sun damage. With better public education and sunscreens, this form of damage is on the decrease. Nonetheless, it is estimated that 90% of sun damage is the result of unplanned or casual sun exposures when people may not have active photo protection. This might include riding in a car, walking outdoors briefly or stopping to talk with friends without a sunscreen or some form of photo-protection. Multiple short and unprotected exposures to the sun may actually become more damaging over the course of a lifetime than a smaller number of lengthy exposures resulting in sunburn.

Chemical sunscreens protect the skin by absorbing the light photons as well as their energy. The molecules of the sunscreen are destroyed rather than a skin component. This still results in chemical reactions and the process generates free radicals that produce the same type of secondary free radical damage that unprotected sun exposure produces. Subsequently chemical sunscreens are not the most complete or effective form of sun protection.

Physical sunscreens such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide work by reflecting the photons of light up and out of the skin so there is no absorption of energy, no chemical reactions and no resulting free radicals. Unlike chemical screens, this type of photo-protection produces no free radicals and no secondary skin damage. This is why dermatologists have recommended the combination of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide as superior sun protection. BiON’s Titanium Dioxide Sunscreen is a non-chemical screen using micronized titanium dioxide and zinc oxide. It provides UVA and UVB protection with an SPF of 35. Dayspa Magazine has selected it as their choice for one of the best sunscreens on the market.

Since NO sunscreen is capable of absorbing or reflecting all of the light photons that strike the skin, protection from secondary free radical activity must always be considered. BiON’s sunscreen contains exceptionally powerful antioxidants to reduce free radical activities and the potential of secondary damage. These antioxidants include grape extract, vitamin E, green tea and others.

Research for Fisher et al in 1998 at the University of Michigan Medical School suggests that higher levels of vitamin A within the skin may prove to have therapeutic and anti-aging value immediately following UV exposure. Vitamin A promotes the removal and replacement of damaged skin components. It has been incorrectly reported in the AOL News that the use of topical vitamin A products makes the skin more sensitive to sun damage. Topical vitamin A actually has reparative benefits. Because topical vitamin A tends to promote exfoliation of outer cells, it can result in less protective skin density for skin that is not properly treated with sun protection.

Summary: BiON’s Titanium Dioxide Sunscreen provides optimal photo-protection. With the addition of powerful antioxidants it takes on another dimension of being an anti-aging tool. BiON’s Moisture Complex, our basic moisturizer, is filled with anti-aging and antioxidant ingredients, such as hydrocotyl (centella asiatica/gotu kola), safflower, soybean, evening primrose, green tea, beta glucan, vitamin E, etc.

A few plant extracts are capable of stimulating the body’s production of its own antioxidants. For example, hydrocotyl (centella asiatica/gotu kola) is a very powerful antioxidant and one of BiON’s most frequently used ingredients. It also stimulates the increased production of catalase in the skin causing its anti-aging potential to be remarkable. Hydrocotyl is also used as a wound and injury dressing because it has a direct stimulatory effect on fibroblast cells, stimulating them to produce collagen. Hydrocotyl is in Moisture Complex, Nutrient Essentials Mask, Line Reducing Complex, etc.

BiON skin care products will keep the skin looking younger for longer. Another suggestion is a multivitamin capsule daily, plus a diet rich in natural antioxidant fruits and vegetables. BAsed upon the age of the patient, it may be suggested that one, two or three antioxidant supplements daily would be beneficial. A regimen of using BiON’s Titanium Dioxide Sunscreen on a routine basis and Moisture Complex once or twice daily should be recommended. These anti-aging actions will keep the skin looking younger and will add years to their life potential.

Depending upon the age of the patient, these actions go beyond anti-aging and become skin regenerative. Routine care of the skin, utilizing the best photo-protection and products containing ingredients natural to the skin’s chemistry, will assist the skin in maintaining its youthful appearance and healthful function.