You Probably Experience More Oxidative Stress In the Summer: Here's Why & What To Do
We love summer for many reasons: extra time in the sun, the opportunity to be outdoors more, a sense of ease. But summer fun can come with unintended consequences for your skin and hair. You know, the big ones: dry, frizzy strands and sunburns. But what you may not realize is that extra exposure to UVs and pollution may trigger an internal concern: oxidative stress.
Let's dive into what you need to know.
What is oxidative stress, and why should you care about it during the summer?
Oxidative stress is a fancy phrase that explains what happens in the body when free radical damage is in overdrive. If you really want a full explainer, check out our guide to oxidative stress, but we'll give you a short explanation of what happens.
Oxidative stress starts with molecules called free radicals1. They're created as byproducts of exposure to sources like UV damage and air pollution (among other things, but these two are most prominent in the summer). Your body can fight these free radicals on their own, but if there's too many, that's when issues arise: Excess free radicals can damage cellular structures, including DNA and cell membranes2. (Read: premature aging.) And if your body's production of free radicals surpasses its ability to control them, the result is oxidative stress.
Since increased outdoor time in the summer usually means more sun and pollution exposure, you increase your risk of entering oxidative stress.
What can you do? Take a smart supplement.
OK, so we know that your body can fight free radicals on their own—but only to a certain extent. The good news is that if your body goes into free radical overdrive, you can actually temper that oxidative stress with certain nutrients. Take, mindbodygreen's nr+, for example: The supplement contains not one, but two potent ingredients that are shown to manage oxidative stress.*
The first is the adaptogen rhodiola. Adaptogens are herbs3 that help your body adapt to stressors like oxidative stress.* They "are antioxidant powerhouses," explains Jessie Cheung, M.D., board-certified dermatologist. "[Adaptogens] help scavenge free radicals, increase cellular resistance to stress, and improve resistance to toxic chemicals."* Or as Kyle Hilsabeck, PharmD, CWCP, tells mbg, "Adaptogens function like buffers to help your body adjust more quickly."*
The second is the antioxidant astaxanthin. Antioxidants' primary function is to neutralize free radicals, but some are better at this job than others—and in different ways. Astaxanthin is so particularly important in the summer because of its ability to manage photodamage and the oxidative stress that comes with it—it's nearly 1,000 times more effective4 at fighting free radicals from UVs than its other antioxidant counterparts.*
As much as we adore summertime and all the joys that come with it, we, of course, must be mindful of the ways in which we must protect ourselves from the stressors that come from sun and pollution. One easy way is to take a targeted supplement that can help manage oxidative stress.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.