What Are Antioxidants and How Do They Benefit the Skin?

By on May 20, 2022

Antioxidants are popular in the health and beauty industry. However, despite its popularity, many people are uncertain about what antioxidants are and how they benefit health. Since antioxidants provide a lot of good things for the skin, becoming familiar with this popular skincare ingredient is definitely worthwhile. 

Here in this post, you will get to know more about antioxidants and their benefits for the skin. Some of the well-studied antioxidants will also be listed in this article.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are a group of compounds that slow down or prevent cell damage caused by free radicals. Free radicals are waste substances the cells produce while the body processes food and as a reaction to the environment. To put it simply, antioxidants protect the body against cell damage that primarily causes ageing. The most common signs of skin ageing are visible fine lines, dark spots, wrinkles, acne, and skin sagging.

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While the body produces some antioxidants, most people source most of their antioxidants from the foods they eat and food supplements. However, getting it through your diet is still the best way to acquire them. Fresh fruits and vegetables are especially plentiful in antioxidants. Aside from their benefits to the skin, eating fruits and vegetables is also beneficial for the body.

Antioxidants and free radicals

Antioxidants are also called “free-radical scavengers.” To completely understand them, you must first understand free radicals. During metabolism and as a reaction to environmental factors, the cells of the body produce waste substances called free radicals. When the body can’t efficiently eradicate them, it will lead to oxidative stress, disrupting body function and harming cells. Internal factors like inflammation also trigger the body to produce more free radicals. The external factors are cigarette smoke, pollution, and UV exposure.

Meanwhile, antioxidants protect the body against free radicals. They deactivate free radicals to prevent them from damaging cells, protecting the body against disease and ageing. But despite their bad reputation, free radicals aren’t entirely bad. In fact, they play an essential role in your body functions. The immune system utilises free radicals to fight off bacteria. The problem comes in when there are too many excess free radicals. When the antioxidants are not enough to deactivate the excess, these free radicals damage the cells.

What antioxidants can do for your skin

Below are some examples of the benefits of antioxidants for the skin:

  • Corrects signs of ageing. If antioxidants in the body are not enough, free radicals will cause oxidative stress, which breaks down collagen. It will trigger inflammation and hinder the skin’s natural healing process, resulting in wrinkles, fine lines, acne breakouts, and loose skin. These things make the skin look older. In skincare, antioxidants help correct or slow down signs of age. Including them in your skincare regime can help keep the skin’s youthful glow. Skincare products like SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF are among the skin care products that combine three potent antioxidants to provide maximum benefits for the skin.
  • Help with the natural skin repair process. As mentioned earlier, inflammation hinders the natural healing ability of the skin. Antioxidants reduce inflammation to let the skin repair on its own and correct visible skin damage. Vitamin C is among the antioxidants that stimulate collagen production, which helps maintain the skin’s youthful look.
  • Soothes the skin. Some antioxidants also have skin-soothing properties. These include antioxidants in chamomile, green tea, and beta-glucan, which calm and visibly soothe skin redness.
  • Helps prevent sun damage. The anti-inflammatory properties of antioxidants also prevent sun damage. Antioxidants reduce the skin’s inflammatory response to UV rays, protecting the skin against photo-ageing, sunburn, and other forms of sun damage.
  • Brightens skin tone. Frequent sun exposure and free radicals increase melanin production, which causes uneven skin tone and dark spots. Antioxidants like vitamin C prevent tyrosinase. It is an enzyme that triggers the production of melanin in the body.

Most effective skincare antioxidants

There are various antioxidants used in skincare products. Below are among the most common and well-studied antioxidants utilised in skincare:

  • Vitamin C. It is among the most popular and widely used antioxidants in skincare. Sometimes, it is included in skin care products as Ester-C or L-ascorbic acid. Vitamin C boosts the skin’s production of collagen and is also the best antioxidant for removing dark spots. 
  • Ferulic acid. This antioxidant protects the skin against sun damage. It also corrects other signs of skin ageing, such as dark spots, fine lines, etc. Ferulic acid works synergistically with other antioxidants like vitamins E and C, improving their effects.
  • Vitamin E. Aside from being an antioxidant, this vitamin moisturises skin and speeds up the skin’s natural healing process. 
  • Retinol. This form of vitamin A is among the most effective over-the-counter skincare ingredients. It helps correct the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. Also, it smooths the skin and allows faster cell repair.
  • Phytoextracts or botanical extracts. A spectrum of botanical extracts in skincare products is used for their antioxidant properties. The most common are coffee, white tea or green tea, rosemary, and calendula. Botanical extracts are often combined with other skincare ingredients to produce the best results.
  • Niacinamide. This antioxidant is also known as vitamin B3. It enhances skin texture and complexion and helps minimise the appearance of dark marks.
  • Coenzyme Q10. It is an antioxidant naturally produced by the body. Coenzyme Q10 is present in the skin, improving skin texture and elasticity. But as we age, this antioxidant diminishes.
  • Curcumin. This antioxidant is a polyphenol present in the spice turmeric. Curcumin is relatively new in the skincare industry and is believed to have skin brightening and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Resveratrol. It is a compound found in berries, grapes, red wine, and tea. Like other antioxidants, resveratrol has an anti-inflammatory property and is good for UV protection. Aside from that, it also increases collagen and elastin production. 

To summarise, antioxidants are compounds that protect the body against cell damage due to excess free radicals. With long-term use, antioxidants make the skin look younger, smoother, healthy, and glowing. They keep signs of ageing at bay by preventing oxidative stress, which causes wrinkles, fine lines, acne breakouts, and uneven skin tone. The most popular and well-studied antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, ferulic acid, retinol, niacinamide, and more.

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What Are Antioxidants and How Do They Benefit the Skin?