If there’s one beauty buzzword that has stood the test of time in the past decade, it’s antioxidants. We see it everywhere from skincare to superfoods to fitness programs – but what exactly do antioxidants do? Do you even need them? Here, we look into the main types of antioxidants and why they are essential to every skincare routine.
First off, what is oxidation?
What does a sliced apple and your skin have in common? If left uncared for, both are susceptible to oxidation – a natural process that causes discolouration and degradation. Your body undergoes this all the time but in the case of your skin, oxidative damage can cause premature aging, dullness, and pigmentation.
The process naturally occurs as skin ages, but can also happen when aggressors such as pollutants and UV exposure generate free radicals that damage your cells. Antioxidants, as the name suggests, are molecules that counter oxidative stress by neutralising free radicals and preventing them from attacking healthy cells.
3 key types of antioxidants and their benefits
- VitaminsYou may already know Vitamin C – it is one of the effective and popular antioxidant vitamins used in both skincare and nutrition. This skincare superstar not only prevents and tackles sun damage, but also has been shown to increase collagen production with in-vitro testing. Another notable antioxidant vitamin is Vitamin E, a lipid-soluble antioxidant known to scavenge free radicals.
With age, your body increases the production of free radicals while decreasing the defense mechanisms against them – so it’s important to include antioxidants in your daily life as topical skincare products or food intake. Depending on what your skin needs, look for either Vitamin C or E in concentrated serums and supplement with food rich in vitamins such as blackberries, clove, and nuts.
- MineralsHot on the heels of vitamins are the Next Big Things of skincare: minerals. Copper peptides has risen to prominence as a hero ingredient in many anti-aging products as it tackles damaged skin cells. Fancy a throwback to your angst-filled teen days? Zinc (as in Zinc Oxide) is a mineral that protects your skin’s lipids from free radicals.
- EnzymesEnzymes are found in every cell of our body naturally, with Coenzyme Q10 being the most recognised antioxidant in our body. It provides our cells with energy to repair damage and function healthily. As an antioxidant, it has been shown with in-vitro testing to protect your skin’s collagen from free radical damage while boosting skin cell activity.
Some antioxidants are very effective at scavenging free radicals by neutralising them. The body’s most efficient free-radical scavenger, Melatonin, is a hormone that lets your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up. This super antioxidant has been found to have two times more antioxidant power than Vitamin E and is also known to boost your body’s anti-inflammatory properties and immune system. That’s why your rest time is also known as beauty sleep – well, as long as you get enough of it anyway!
How to add antioxidants to your beauty routine
The best form of antioxidants in skincare products is a serum, as serums usually contain concentrated amounts of the active ingredient. To counter dark spots and uneven skin tone, pick a Vitamin C essence that contains brightening active ingredients and antioxidants such as prune or plum extracts. For anti-aging concerns like wrinkles, fine lines, and minute sagging, a retinol prescription or serum with Coenzyme Q10 would work really well.
For best results, use an antioxidant both day and night – it boosts the effectiveness of your sun protection during the day while scavenging free radicals while you sleep. Looking for even more antioxidant power beyond skincare? Add dark-coloured food such as Goji berries, blueberries, cilantro, and pecans to your diet as they contain some of the highest antioxidants among food.