While there’s still no cure-all for aging skin woes, dermatologists have found a way to drastically slow the process in the form of antioxidants. These little miracle workers help fight the good fight against free radicals, or unstable molecules with unpaired electrons.
Free radicals aren’t all bad. Our body produces them naturally to help us get rid of viruses and bacteria. Unfortunately, there can be too much of a good thing. These molecules desperately want to pair their electrons, so they attack stable molecules in our body. This leads to chemical reactions that damage our cells.
When our body and the environment produce more free radicals then we can naturally process, it leads to oxidative stress. Years of oxidative stress is a major factor in what causes our skin to look dull and aged. Antioxidants counteract this effect, virtually reversing years of damage. They can also reduce your chance of skin cancer and prevent further sun damage from occurring.
Adding antioxidants into your daily skin routine is a wise step for those seeking both health and beauty benefits. But which ones are the best? There are tons on the market, but here are a few of our favorites:
This potent form of vitamin C is your skin’s new guardian angel. In addition to boasting impressive antioxidant capabilities, L-ascorbic acid also helps your body produce collagen, heal wounds, and maintain skin integrity. It provides advanced environmental protection, preventing sun damage and reversing the effects of past UV exposure.
While we all get some form of vitamin C through our diet, topical application is the best way to fight against free radicals. L-ascorbic acid specifically is concentrated at 15%, but look for products that also include ingredients like vitamin E. This helps the body absorb the serum by hydrating the skin.
Green Tea Polyphenols
Polyphenols are found in some of our favorite treats, like wine, dark chocolate, and fruit. One of the most potent sources, though, is green tea. Polyphenols are anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and antioxidant superstars that are being studied in labs across the globe for the incredible health benefits it offers. Green tea is packed with polyphenols, around 30% by weight. Of that, the majority is EGCG, a form of catechin that prevents cell damage.
When applied topically and consumed regularly, you are giving your skin its own bodyguard. Green tea polyphenols increase your skin’s ability to defend against oxidative stress, aging, and damaging UVB rays.
The effects of this antioxidant are astounding. In areas of the world that consume more green tea, cancer rates tend to be lower. According to Medical News Today, “The polyphenols in tea have been shown to decrease tumor growth in laboratory and animal studies and may protect against damage caused by ultraviolet UVB radiation.”
This polyphenol antioxidant is derived from the skin of plants, especially red grapes, peanuts, and berries. In plants, it acts as an antimicrobial that defends against infection, disease, pollution, radiation, and unusual shifts in climate. On our skin, it does much of the same.
Resveratrol is still in early stages of research, but it’s been tested in settings that show it could have positive effects on lowering risk of heart attack, limiting and killing cancer cells, protecting from the damage that leads to Alzheimer’s, and preventing insulin resistance. On your skin, resveratrol protects against the damaging effects of the environment, helping it maintain balance and preventing the overabundance of free radicals.
Another form of vitamin C, THD ascorbate differs from other concentrations because of its fatty acid content. This makes it more lipid soluble, allowing the skin to absorb it easily. Once it has entered the skin, THD ascorbate works to boost collagen production and reduce the damage done by ultraviolet light. Vitamin C compounds have the ability to “donate” their electrons to free radicals without becoming unstable, reducing the chances of oxidative stress.
In addition to protecting the delicate skin of the face, it has also been shown to reduce the appearance of stretch marks, help reduce inflammation after laser surgery, and decreasing the appearance of fine lines. THD ascorbate works well in conjunction with other forms of vitamin C, like L-ascorbic acid. It also pairs well with retinol, boosting its anti-aging benefits. It is also safer for those with sensitive skin than other concentrations, as it has been shown to be less irritating.