Whether your goal is to protect or perfect your skin, e-v-e-r-y-o-n-e is looking for ingredients that actually work. Enter, antioxidants, man-made or naturally-occurring compounds that share a special superpower: Simply put, they tap the brakes on unavoidable chemical reactions that damage skin cells—ever the more reason to put antioxidants on a pedestal or better yet, slather them allll over you. Found in fresh fruits and veggies, which are known for being particularly potent sources, antioxidants such as vitamin C can also be applied topically.
Antioxidants and our Skin
Free Radical Fighters
Antioxidants work by reversing or preventing free radicals from causing oxidative stress. As we know, cells are the building blocks of our skin. With that in mind antioxidants work by scavenging atoms’ loose electrons so that they cannot cause cell damage. Bottom Line: antioxidants are damage defenders that help slow skin aging and they deserve a place in your routine
The Antidote to Aging
Aka "The Good Guys"
Because our bodies naturally produce free radicals, and sunlight, pollution, environmental toxins, tobacco, and stress also contribute to free radicals, there’s no way to completely escape them and resulting oxidative damage—womp, womp.
The best method to fight free radical damage + resultant signs of aging, however, is — you guessed it — antioxidants. By scavenging free radicals, antioxidants can help prevent and correct these visible signs and give skin a more youthful glow. Further, they reduce fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation and exhibits anti-inflammatory properties
Cosmetic Chemistry 101
Aka "The Bad Guys"
Free radicals are highly reactive and unstable molecules (like your ex, perhaps). To gain stability, they react with other molecules, triggering a chain reaction that damages the structure and DNA of otherwise healthy skin cells.
Unfortunately, free radical damage leads to inflammation that gets in the way of the skin’s regularly-scheduled self-repair systems. Eventually, this can lead to acne, pigmentation & cell damage, that causes wrinkles & aging.
Breakout-Busting Redness Relief
Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
Niacinamide aka Vitamin B3 is a powerful antioxidant that improves the skin’s texture and tone. It reduces fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation and curbs inflammation at the source. Thanks to its ability to calm inflammation, niacinamide can also soothe breakouts, improve skin’s barrier function and help fight redness. It effectively treat skin conditions like rosacea & acne without adverse reactions, making it ideal for sensitive types.
The Anti-Aging “Longevity Molecule”
Resveratrol is known as the “longevity molecule” thanks to its impressive anti-aging abilities. An antioxidant found mostly in the skins of fruits like grapes and berries, resveratrol serves as the plants’ defensive armor—and has a similarly reparative effect when used in skin care products. Resveratrol has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and antifungal properties, which calm down the skin, reduce skin aging and may keep [the skin] free of infections. Worth noting: it’s best used in the evening, since UV exposure can hamper its effectiveness.
A favorite among dermatologists, vitamin C is one of the most studied antioxidants out there. As a free radical scavenger, vitamin C has many skin benefits, like boosting collagen production (which leaves skin firmer) and fading dark spots. Use it in the morning to make the most of its ability to prevent sun damage and inhibit hyperpigmentation—and always follow it with sunscreen.
Accelerates Cell Repair & Regeneration
Vitamin E is an important antioxidant absolutely essential for proper-functioning, healthy skin. It’s widely recognized for its ability to accelerate the skin’s healing process. No wonder vitamin E is often found in moisturizers, creams and lotions formulated to treat dry skin, as well as products designed to reduce stretch marks. Vitamin E also helps to stabilize other antioxidants and improve their effectiveness, so you’ll often find it paired with vitamin C or resveratrol.
The “A” Stands for Age-Defying
Retinol (Vitamin A)
If there’s one ingredient that’s been proven time and time again to help turn back the clock on aging skin, it’s retinol. A derivative of vitamin A, this antioxidant is particularly effective due to its small molecular structure, which allows it to penetrate deep enough into the skin that it can effectively stimulate collagen production and accelerate cell renewal and repair. Both over-the-counter retinol and prescription forms of vitamin A (retinoids like tretinoin) are adept at smoothing fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin tone and discoloration.
Boosts Collagen + Elasticity
As we age, the presence of coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, in our body slowly diminishes, making us more susceptible to wrinkles and photo-aging. Topical application of this antioxidant helps fight off free radical damage and keeps your skin cells healthy. This nutrient is easily absorbed by the skin and helps stimulate collagen production, which helps improve elasticity and texture.
Sun Damage Preventing Powerhouses
There are thousands of types of polyphenols (resveratrol is one) which are found in fruits, vegetables, green or black tea (also called flavonoids) and other botanicals. These compounds possess anti-inflammatory, immunomodulatory and antioxidant properties to prevent UV-induced skin photodamage (i.e. sun spots, premature aging, wrinkles, etc. from sun exposure) Studies show that consumption and topical use of ingredients rich in polyphenols help improve our skin’s natural defense against oxidative stress, prevent signs of aging and repair DNA damage.