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The Role of Antioxidants in Skin Care

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Are you trying to achieve healthy, youthful, radiant skin? Then antioxidants could be the solution! Antioxidants play an essential role in the skin’s health as they fight the signs of aging by protecting, preventing, and restoring the skin from oxidative stress.

Before we get into what antioxidants are and how they can help restore the skin from oxidative stress, you need to understand what causes oxidative stress, which are free radicals.  The term free radicals gets tossed around quite a bit in the beauty industry. For example, breaking down collagen, speeding up the aging process, or negatively affecting the skin’s health.

What Are Free Radicals and Why Are They Bad for The Skin?

Free radicals play a dual purpose in our body that can be both helpful and harmful. Our body naturally creates free radicals to counteract bacteria and viruses. But when there are more free radicals present than can be kept in check, they can start doing damage, especially to the skin.

Let’s go back to the basics of chemistry for a bit. Free radicals are unstable molecules. Molecules are made up of atoms, and atoms are made from pairs of electrons. Sometimes, the structure of the atoms break down, and the pair splits up. When an atom no longer has a pair of electrons, it becomes unstable, resulting in a free radical. These unstable molecules look to pair with another missing electron to gain stability, triggering a chain reaction that can cause damage to your skin cells.

The most common ways to speed up the production of free radical damage are by unhealthy choices such as cigarette smoke, consuming too much alcohol, lack of sleep, and exposure to environmental aggressors. This oxidative stress breaks down collagen, impedes the skin’s natural repair process, and stimulates inflammation. Leading to fine lines, wrinkles, loose skin, acne breakouts, and uneven skin.

Protect Your Skin from Free Radical Damage Using Antioxidants

Tribeca MedSpa Medical Aesthetician, Allie Summers explains, “Antioxidants neutralize free radicals to protect your skin from damage from pollutants and other environmental aggressors. They promote collagen growth, brighten skin tone, and can even make your sunscreen more efficacious.”

Studies have shown that adding anti-inflammatory antioxidants to your skincare regimen can protect the skin by limiting free radical production and repairing the skin from oxidative stress. Dr. Ginsberg, M.D. F.A.C.S, also notes that “Antioxidants can actually reverse the damage the UV-A and UV-B rays due to the genetic machinery of the cell and the damage to the structural proteins in the skin.”

In short, antioxidants protect you against the unstable molecules in your skin that produce oxidants. They accomplish this by giving an electron to an unstable molecule, so the free radical doesn’t have to steal the electron from the skins’ atoms.

Know Your Antioxidants

They’re your skin’s best defense against aging.

Now that you have seen how antioxidants can intervene to defend your skin from free radical damage, what are some of the other benefits, and what antioxidants should you be looking for?

The easiest way to get your dose of antioxidants is to look for skincare products that contain them. See some of the most common antioxidants found in skincare below.

Vitamin A (Retinoids): Retinol is the most common ingredient found in anti-aging products to fight the signs of premature aging caused by environmental aggressors. This antioxidant is particularly effective due to its small molecular structure, which allows it to penetrate the skin by stimulating collagen production and accelerating cellular turnover and repair.

Vitamin B3: Niacinamide fights oxidative stress and promotes skin renewal by increasing cell turnover. Additionally, vitamin B3 minimizes fine lines and wrinkles, reduces inflammation, refines the skin’s barrier function, and brightens the skin.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is popular for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties, making it ideal at reducing acne-induced inflammation. The anti-aging properties boost collagen production and aid in fading dark spots. Vitamin C offers significant protection against sun damage and other environmental stressors as well.

Vitamin E: Assists in various kinds of cellular restoration from sun damage. It also provides moisturizing and healing benefits that aid in strengthening the skin’s barrier function. Vitamin E enhances the effectiveness of other antioxidants, so you’ll often find it paired with other forms of vitamins.

Resveratrol: This is a naturally occurring antioxidant found in the skin of grapes, berries, even dark chocolate. Resveratrol is part of a group called polyphenols that act as essential antimicrobial antioxidants to protect the cells against damage, leading to cellular turnover.

Depending on your skin type and concerns, we recommend a variety of antioxidant serums from SkinCeuticals and Obaji, including:

Obagi 360 Retinol 0.5

SkinCeuticals Resveratrol B E

SkinCeuticals Daily Moisture

SkinCeuticals Silymarin CF Serum

SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3

The Order in Which to Apply Your Skincare Products

Like most things in life, following specific guidelines is essential for the best results, and your skincare is not any different. The key to getting the most out of your skincare products is to prioritize the most active ingredients. The rule of thumb is, the more critical the component, the sooner you should use it. These are the ingredients you want to penetrate deeper into the skin for the best results. If you’re not following that order, it could compromise your skincare routine’s overall efficiency.

When trying to remember what anti-aging skin care product to use first, a bonus tip is to look at the consistency of the skincare products and start with the thinnest products first and work your way to the thicker ones. This is why we suggest using antioxidant serums first; they are thinner and will penetrate the skin more deeply.

How do you apply an antioxidant-enriched serum? The best time to apply a facial serum is after cleansing and toning your skin. When using, you want to pat on, do not rub as rubbing pulls and tugs on the skin, leading to premature aging. Lastly, the goal for younger-looking skin is lifting; therefore, you want to apply your antioxidant serums in an upward motion. Never drag your skin downward (think sagging skin). It will only help gravity and worsen aging concerns.

Eat Your Way to Healthy Skin 

Another way to get your dose of antioxidants is by your diet. While treatment-focused serums can give the skin a boost in looking and performing its best, the real source of a skin’s health comes from the inside. That means what you eat is as essential to the health and youthfulness of your skin as what you put on it. A quote you’ve probably heard all your life but never put much thought to it, “You are what you eat.” Well, when it comes to healthy skin, this is spot on.

Some examples of fruits and vegetables enriched in antioxidants include:

Red Bell Pepper: Adding red bell pepper to your diet reduces the appearance of aging signs and stimulates collagen growth. Red bell peppers include potent antioxidants like vitamin C and carotenoids that offer protection against cell degradation and damage caused by UVA and UVB rays.

Papaya: Papayas are also loaded in carotenoids and are a good source of vitamins A, C, and E, helping boost your defenses against the suns damaging rays that lead to photoaging.

Sweet Potato: Sweet potatoes are rich in beta carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, protecting the skin against free radicals, increasing skin elasticity, and contributing to a radiant, glowing complexion.

Spinach: The green leaf is abundant in vitamins A, C, E, and K. Spinach assists in hydrating, revitalizing, and replenishing the skin. Its vitamin C content promotes the production of collagen, which smooths the skin and keeps it firm.

Some other fruits and vegetables rich in antioxidants include.

  • Avocado
  • Blueberries
  • Broccoli Sprouts
  • Kale
  • Lemons
  • Oranges
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Pumpkin
  • Green Tea Extract