Beauty dictionary: what is oxidation and what are its effects on acne?

Beauty dictionary: what is oxidation and what are its effects on acne?

When we hear about ‘oxidation’, it's usually not in a positive context. Rotting fruit, rust, even fire itself are all types of oxidation. But what is it exactly, how is it related to the formation of blackheads, and how can you protect skin from it?

Oxidation and what it does to the skin

In a simplified definition[1], oxidation is when a compound loses electrons because its oxidation (level of oxides) is increased. An example is when oxygen combines with iron to cause rust (or iron oxide). Another case comes when sebum on the surface of the skin (a combination of keratin and oil) clogs pores and is exposed to the air. The result is a blackhead[2].

But blackheads aren't the only consequences of oxidation on our skin. Research[3] shows that oxidation is also a significant contributor to the extrinsic, or photo-aging of the skin. The older we get, the more our skin cells are damaged by external oxidising agents caused by UV irradiation. This explains the loss in elasticity our skin undergoes as it ages, and the subsequent wrinkles and fine lines that form as our skin is unable to bounce back into position.

How to protect your skin from oxidation

With the right skincare routine, we can protect skin against the different symptoms of oxidation such as blackheads and premature aging. Effaclar K (+) gel from La Roche-Posay for instance, combines LHA with vitamin E, carnosine and Airlicium™, which smoothes the skin's texture and mattifies the skin to prevent excess sebum production and the subsequent oxidation of blocked pores. Airlicium™ is a revolutionary active ingredient formulated to absorb sebum, leaving a matte complexion for up to eight hours.

LHA, or beta-lipohydroxy acid, is known[4] for its antimicrobial and anticomedogenic (anti-spot) properties. Vitamin E and carnosine are both natural antioxidants[5][6].