Antioxidants are a crucial component in any skincare routine. They are a broad category of ingredients that help prevent free radicals from damaging your skin cells. If you remember from chemistry class, your cells like to have a stable number of electrons. Free radicals are unstable and reactive molecules with unpaired electrons that steal electrons from healthy skin cells, starting a chain reaction of cell destruction and death.
Antioxidants neutralize free radicals by donating electrons, saving your healthy skin cells in the process.
Free Radicals & Oxidative Stress
Free radicals come from UV, environmental pollution, tobacco, stress and even naturally occur in our bodies, which is why we have some natural antioxidants in our body.
If not neutralized, free radicals cause oxidative stress (think a browning apple) which breaks down collagen, triggers inflammation and impairs your skin’s wound healing response. This leads to wrinkles, fine lines, loss of moisture, depleted skin barriers, pigmentation and acne. Free radicals can even alter DNA!
Oxidative stress is a major contributor to acne. Using antioxidants helps acne at various stages – from prevention to healing – by reducing inflammation and redness, speeding up healing, increasing hydration, brightening and upping sun protection (read this post to learn more about acne and sun protection). Some antioxidants can even stimulate collagen production, which can help textural scars and photo-aging, as well as interrupt the formation of pigment, lessening post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation.
Types of Antioxidants
There are many, many types of antioxidants. In addition to neutralizing free radicals, many types offer additional benefits, so you can find them included in nearly every type of product.
Antioxidants are often formulated together, which can boost the efficacy of each. This is why you often see powerhouse antioxidant vitamin C paired with antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid. Here are some commonly found antioxidants:
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
- Superoxide Dismutase (SOD)
- Niacinamide or Vitamin B3
- Polyphenols (examples include resveratrol, white tea and green tea)
- Retinol or Vitamin A
How to Incorporate in Your Routine
Antioxidants can be used morning and night. Because there are so many types and they can serve many purposes, you’re likely already using products with antioxidants included! But as far as antioxidants go, the more the merrier. It can’t hurt to add a dedicated antioxidant product, like a daily serum.
If you don’t want to add a separate product, no worries, just make sure something you’re using has them included. Because the sun is a major source of free radicals, it’s very common to see sunscreen with added antioxidants, which can be an easy way to make sure you’re using them daily.
All of our products also include antioxidants that are proven beneficial for acne-prone skin. Check them out here!