Antioxidants are substances found in food that stop or delay damage to your cells. They can be found in many kinds of foods but particularly in plants.
They’re released from the foods we eat through digestion and travel from your bloodstream into your cells.
They protect your cells from damage by removing waste products, called free radicals, before they can do any harm. Free radicals can be caused by outside toxins like smoking, radiation from the sun, pollution and toxic chemicals.
Although your body has built-in defences to protect you from free radicals, sometimes extra help is needed. Once free radicals are attached to antioxidants, they can’t bind with parts of your cells and therefore can’t cause any damage.
How do antioxidants affect your skin?
Antioxidants are used in many skin formulations like creams and lotions to promote healthy skin. They protect your skin by limiting free radical damage. Having sufficient antioxidants in your body can help reduce signs of ageing like spots, as well as easing inflammation. Antioxidants can also help moisturise dry and dull skin.
- Prevent sunburn. Antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties to help prevent sunburn and give your skin better protection against sun damage and ageing.
- Repair your skin. Antioxidants lower inflammation, which means your skin can repair itself more easily. Some antioxidants can also increase collagen production which makes your skin look youthful.
- Brighten your skin tone. Over time, free radical damage and extended sun exposure can cause dark spots and pigmentation. Some antioxidants can help your skin make more melanin (dark pigment in your body) to even out and brighten your skin tone.
The best skincare antioxidants
Look out for skincare products with these antioxidants for glowing, healthy skin. Speak to a dermatologist to choose the best option for your skin type.
Besides helping to keep your immune system in check, Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant often added to skin serums. It’s best known for fighting off free radicals, helping to fade dark spots and boosting collagen. If you choose to use Vitamin C, you must store it properly because it can become unstable when exposed to light or air. Store it in a cool, dark drawer.
Retinol (Vitamin A)
Well-known for its anti-ageing perks, retinol is a favourite amongst skincare experts. Retinol helps your skin to make more collagen which helps repair your cells. This can smooth out fine lines and wrinkles and improve your skin tone, making your skin look younger. You can get retinol over the counter or a stronger kind from your doctor with a prescription.
This super vitamin is needed to help your organs to function, including your skin. It speeds up your skin’s healing process and can help with stretch marks. It’s most often used in creams, moisturisers and lotions to treat dry skin.
Flavonoids are nutrients that absorb UV light from the sun. They help to protect your skin from these rays thereby preventing skin damage. They can also delay skin ageing and reduce skin inflammation. Flavonoids are commonly found in green and black teas
The best way to keep free radicals at bay is to use sunscreen every day and avoid smoking and obvious air pollution. You can use more than one antioxidant on your skin at a time. For example, Vitamin C and E work well together. Give your skin an extra boost by eating foods high in antioxidants like dark chocolate, pecan nuts, blueberries and goji berries.