Antioxidants are important both when ingested and used topically. Below we'll discuss how to add them to your skincare routine!
But first, when discussing antioxidants - it helps to understand oxidative stress. This starts when free radicals (an unstable & highly reactive molecule) attempts to gain stability by essentially stealing particles from other healthy cells. Simply put, free radicals have an extra electron that gives them a certain charge. When they approach other cells, this charge attracts particles from the healthy cell. When this occurs numerous times, it ultimately damages the healthy cell!
Antioxidants help the body by finding, collecting, and neutralizing those loose electrons in free radicals. Free radicals are constantly in our bodies and come from many sources. Fighting infections, Sun damage, stress, environmental factors such as pollution, radiation, smoke & chemicals - all create free radicals.
Usually, your body has enough antioxidants to combat free radical damage. But if the balance gets thrown off it creates - oxidative stress.
While this stress occurs all over the body, skin oxidative stress leads to a break down of collagen. This hinders your skin’s natural repair process and triggers inflammation. All of which can lead to fine lines, wrinkles, loose skin, acne, and poor skin tone.
Thus, antioxidants can help prevent and correct this situation to give your skin a more youthful glow.
SUMMARY: 3 KEY BENEFITS OF ANTIOXIDANTS
1. MAY PREVENT CERTAIN CANCERS
Evidence shows that Vitamins A, C, and E have anti-carcinogenic properties. Thus, they may help prevent certain cancers, including skin cancer.
2. PREVENT SUNBURN & IMPROVE HEALING TIME
Antioxidants reduce inflammation. This includes inflammation in your skin caused by sunburns or other irritants.
By reducing inflammation, the body is better able to heal and protect itself against further Sun damage and photo-aging.
Some antioxidants, such as vitamin C, can even stimulate collagen production while reducing melanin production. Which leads us to our final key benefit.
3. BRIGHTEN SKIN TONE
Free radicals and Sun damage force the body to increase melanin production.
As discussed, this will potentially cause the creation of dark spots (“age spots”) and an uneven skin tone. If antioxidants can neutralize free radicals before they increase melanin production, the skin will retain more of its youthful glow for longer.
Antioxidants, whether ingested or applied to the skin directly, can vary in potency, mechanism of action, and results.
Below are the top antioxidants currently found in skincare products.
1. RETINOL (VITAMIN A)
Vitamin A is an anti-aging ingredient with copious scientific studies. It’s one of the only ingredients shown to help reduce skin aging, especially in a topical form.
But not all Vitamin A’s are created equally. Retinol is a special derivative of vitamin A as it has a very small molecular structure.
Thus, it can penetrate deep into the skin where it stimulates collagen production to accelerate cellular renewal and repair.
This smooths fine lines and wrinkles and improves skin tone. Gentler forms of retinol are available over the counter. If a stronger form is needed, you can ask your doctor for a prescription-strength Tretinoin.
2. VITAMIN E
Vitamin E is one of the most well-known ingredients and is found in numerous skin and beauty products on the market.
From the clinical literature, Vitamin E is shown to accelerate the skin’s healing process. It can also help treat dry skin through its moisturizing properties. In some cases, it’s been shown to help new moms reduce stretch marks!
Vitamin E is an essential ingredient and should be taken whenever possible, except before any surgical procedure as it may cause blood thinning.
3. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is one of the most studied and popular antioxidants available today. Almost to the point where people claim it can do things that it can’t.
Many doctors prefer Vitamin C due to its ability to reduce free radicals, support collagen production, and reduce dark spots.
However, Vitamin C is unstable and will lose its potency if exposed to light or air. Be sure to take orally or use it in its serum form. If used as a topical - store in a cool, dark place for maximum stability and efficacy.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant found in grape skins, berries, peanuts, tea and most importantly, red wine.
Resveratrol forms the major part of a plant’s defense against the outside environment. It is inherently antimicrobial and protects plants from air pollution, infection, UV radiation, and extreme temperature changes.
In many clinical studies, resveratrol has been shown to fight cancers. While this mechanism is still unclear, scientists suspect the activity of cell mitochondria in enhancing healthy cell life. It’s unclear whether external supplementation is helpful. But just in case, you should boost your intake of fruit (don’t just drink wine...alcohol dehydrates!)
Idebenone is a man-made ingredient similar to the co-enzyme Q10 (CoQ10).
It’s a powerful antioxidant, capable of protecting a wide variety of cell types from oxidative damage. It has been trialed as a topical application with some promising results.
Finally, here are 4 ways to maximize your antioxidant's effects.
1. START EARLY
Potent antioxidants can be irritating when first commenced. Some are more gentle when consumed orally. Whatever your preference, it’s beneficial to start early & consistently use as part of your continuing anti-aging beauty regimen. Make it a habit and you’ll prevent free radicals from impacting your skin in future years.
2. IT’S NOT JUST FOR YOUR FACE
Don’t forget to apply your antioxidant cream to your neck, hands, and forearms. Any body part that’s frequently exposed to the Sun can show signs of aging and UV damage.
3. FEEL FREE TO MIX AND MATCH INGREDIENTS
As long as you don’t experience skin irritation, feel free to combine different antioxidants. For example, it’s known that vitamin C and E work better together. Other studies confirm, combining antioxidants helps them work more effectively!
Read this: The Sunshine Vitamin - Vitamin D
4. YOUR DIET IS KEY
Topical creams and serums may be easy, but the absolute best way to increase your antioxidant reserves is by oral consumption. Orally ingested ingredients spread throughout the body and fight free radicals during the whole day.
Eat your fruit & vegetables raw, cooking may denature some ingredients. A supplement can be very helpful; particularly with ingredients like vitamins A, C, E and B, omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, and resveratrol or CoQ10!
As always - we hope you enjoyed this material and found it useful. Let us know about your diet and antioxidant consumption techniques below. Feel free to leave us some comments or questions and we can get back to you! ~The HealFast Medical team