When it comes to antioxidants, you can’t have too much of a good thing.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals—like vitamins A, C, E, and green tea—that protect your skin against free radicals. And yes, free radicals sound like a bad ‘70s rock band, but they’re actually molecules in the environment that damage your skin by clinging to your collagen and weakening elasticity.
They come from things like air pollutants, chemicals, and cigarette smoke, and they basically suck the life out of your face, say dermatologists at Yale University.
Our skin is our largest organ, so it is important to take care of it. Antioxidants protect our skin by limiting the production of free radicals, which can damage skin cells.
Antioxidants neutralize those free radicals to protect your skin from damage. Great, right? But that’s not all.
Some antioxidants also brighten your skin, calm irritation, and even smooth fine lines—as long as you choose the right ones.
Antioxidants in skin care products can do a lot for the health and appearance of your skin, including reducing the signs of aging. From calming inflamed skin to tightening and toning, antioxidants offer great benefits from natural sources.
How do antioxidants work?
As the name states, antioxidants are any substances that prevent oxidation – the wearing out of a material – and fight potentially damaging oxidizing agents inside a living organism. These oxidizing agents (more commonly called free radicals), are molecules produced when our body breaks down food or is exposed to pollution, toxins, or radiation of any kind.
If you've seen a peeled apple turn brown, you've seen oxidation in action. As antioxidants block the effects of free radicals, they end up being oxidized. This is why it's important to constantly replenish your supply of antioxidants.
Antioxidants protect the cells from damage caused by these free radicals. Hence, they are the watchful protectors. They guard our systems, day in and day out.
Young, healthy skin contains plenty of antioxidants, but aging naturally results in the loss of those nutrients, and without antioxidants to slow them down, you’re more susceptible to all kinds of aging processes. Sun, air pollution, environmental stressors—all of these variables and more can wreak havoc on skin that isn’t sufficiently protected by antioxidants.
When it comes to caring for your skin, antioxidants can help to protect your skin from the damaging effects of the sun. Doctors report all antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties. They blunt your skin’s inflammatory response to the sun’s harmful rays, preventing sunburn and providing enhanced protection against sun damage and photoaging.
Unlike sunscreens and moisturizers, antioxidants can protect your skin from the inside out by guarding your cells from damage. Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium are thought to be particularly helpful in skin care.
In addition to helping fortify cells against free radicals, vitamins A and C also encourage cell and tissue growth, helping the body to repair itself. This is very helpful to the skin, which is constantly shedding and regrowing cells. For this reason, any antioxidants that protect cells and encourage cell growth could be helpful in an anti-aging regimen, as they may help fight fine lines and wrinkles.
Any molecule that protects your body against free radicals is known as an antioxidant, as they are “anti-oxidation”. Antioxidants help to fight the negative effects free radicals have on our skin by offering themselves as a shield and acting as a substitute for the skin molecules that free radicals usually latch onto.
With over 8000 varieties, including vitamins, polyphenols and flavonoids there are plenty of antioxidants that can be effective, both imbibed in foods and supplements and applied externally to skin.
Any and all skin types, not just those saddled with signs of aging, can benefit from the enhanced protection offered by antioxidant ingredients in skin care. There are countless antioxidants out there—vitamins C and E, retinol, resveratrol, flavonoids like those in green tea, and polyphenols come to mind—and the more of them you use, the better. They work well in conjunction with one another, so when it comes to antioxidants, you can’t have too much of a good thing.
When it comes to antioxidants, high potency and bioavailability are two factors that determine how truly effective each substance is. The trick is knowing how much of the active antioxidant-rich ingredient is in a product and how easily and readily our bodies can utilize it.
Aid in skin repair
Inflamed skin impedes the skin’s rejuvenation process. By reducing inflammation, antioxidants allow skin to repair itself and correct visible damage. Some antioxidants, like vitamin C, can also stimulate collagen production, which is vital for youthful skin.
We all know that too much sun is dangerous, but it can also be bad for your skin’s appearance, drying it out and damaging cells. Sun damage can make skin appear tough and wrinkly. Free radicals and frequent sun exposure can also trigger changes in our skin’s melanin production, causing dark spots and uneven skin tone.
By reducing photodamage, antioxidants can help prevent abnormal skin pigmentations. Some antioxidants (again, like vitamin C) also work as a tyrosinase (an enzyme that stimulates melanin production) blockage.
Antioxidants that stimulate blood flow in the skin can help encourage the growth of new cells and make sun-damaged skin appear younger. Many antioxidant-rich beauty products are available for treating sun damage, including cleansers and moisturizers that you can use on your entire body.
Tackle excess free radicals from the inside and out and you can make a real difference to skin health as well as the health of the rest of your body, for a glow that lasts day after day.