What is superoxide dismutase and how does it benefit our skin? Keep reading to find out the answers! 👩🔬
What Is Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)?
Superoxide dismutase or SOD is a powerful antioxidant enzyme, naturally found in our bodies. It is arguably one of the most powerful forces against oxidation in the human body.
Remind Me What An Antioxidant Does Again?
Antioxidants work by stabilsing ‘free radicals’ so that they don’t cause damage to our cells.
Free radicals are highly unstable molecules found in the air, our bodies and materials around us. They attach themselves to our healthy cells to become stable and this turns the cells into free radicals. When we have more free radicals than antioxidants in our bodies, our cells suffer oxidative stress, becoming damaged. So this could be the cells within collagen and elastin in our skin, for example. If collagen and elastin cells are damaged, they don’t function effectively to support the structure of our skin. This can then lead to visible signs of ageing.
And What’s An Enzyme?
Enzymes are biological molecules that speed up the rate of chemical reactions that take place in our bodies.
So How Does SOD Work?
SOD is your first line of defence against superoxide free radicals. It acts like a burglar alarm in your house, it sounds the alarm to say that free radicals are present so that other antioxidants, like vitamin C for example, know to come and destroy the free radicals. Whilst SOD is waiting for other antioxidants to arrive, it works hard to scare off free radicals by breaking them down (action of enzymes) into less destructive molecules (hydrogen peroxide and oxygen in the case of the free radical: superoxide). Once they are broken down, other antioxidant enzymes can then eliminate them from the body.
Why SOD’s role as the burglar alarm is important is because without them, the other antioxidants in your body wouldn’t come to the rescue nearly as fast. In fact, the process of eliminating free radicals from the body would be 10,000 times slower, leaving a lot more time for damage to your cells to occur.
Does It Get On With Other Ingredients?
There’s currently no evidence that I can find to suggest that SOD interacts with other ingredients so you can use it with your retinoids, acids, vitamin C etc.
So Why Would I Use It On My Face?
Well, mainly because of its properties as an antioxidant and its ability to reduce inflammation. It’s going to work hard to protect our skin from reactive free radicals and it’s going to do that alongside the SOD that we already have in our bodies. Some studies suggest that the activity of SOD in our bodies decreases as we age and free radical formation increases, so any extra help our bodies can get to fight free radicals is good in my opinion!
Early skincare studies have also shown other proven effects of topical SOD. It has been shown in a study on animals that SOD was found to speed up the healing process after wounds sustained from burns. Another study on human skin, after breast cancer treatment, found that SOD helped epidermal cells (cells in our uppermost skin layer) to return to normal function and reduce collagen accumulation.
In-vitro (made in the lab) tests have also shown that SOD is a more effective antioxidant than vitamin E, green tea extract, and Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (a form of vitamin C). An in-vivo (made on real people) study measured how SOD can reduce redness caused by UV rays and it was found to be much more effective than vitamin E and ascorbyl palmitate.
What Products Can I Find SOD In?
Lots of brands are including superoxide dismutase in their products right now such as NIOD, Paula’s Choice, Allies of Skin and many more! Check your ingredient lists to see if this is included in one of your products!
SOD is notoriously unstable and so skincare brands using this ingredient have to work hard to stablise and solublise it for use!
A short and sweet one this week! I try to mix it up so that you don’t always have to spend 10 minutes reading if you don’t want to! My next post will be a review on NIOD’s SDSM2 Mist – subscribe here so that you don’t miss that one!
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More info on this ingredient here.