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 oxidative stress, but we’ll give you a short explanation of what happens.

Oxidative stress starts with molecules called free radicals. 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 membranes. (Read: premature aging.) And if your body's production of free radicals surpasses its ability to control them, the result is oxidative stress.

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