Antioxidants are a real buzzword in skincare, and with good reason, as these naturally derived compounds work to prevent cell damage by fighting free radicals. When cells burn glucose to create energy for the body, free radicals are naturally produced. These are atoms that are missing an electron – which makes them unstable. Essentially the free radicals buzz around the body taking electrons from healthy cells and thus damaging them, and this process continues until the free radical is stopped by – you guessed it – antioxidants. The good news is that they can, and should be, combined for maximum effectiveness, so look to add them into every aspect of your skincare routine, and you’ll soon see more radiant and smoother skin.
Why Do I Need Antioxidants?
Free radicals can be produced by the body, but they’re also present in the environment in sunlight, pollution, pesticides, smoke and many other chemical processes. By attacking cells they’re responsible for ageing the skin – think decreased elasticity, wrinkles and pigmentation, so protecting your skin against them will help it to look more youthful.
What Should I Look For?
There are thousands of antioxidant compounds and it’s important to get a wide variety from your diet, as well as applying them topically. Eating a rainbow of fruit and vegetables will ensure you’re getting a good mix of differing types, and when it comes to skincare, here are some of the big hitters to look out for…
Best For: Mature skin, dullness, sun-damaged skin
What it does: Vitamin C is currently enjoying its hero moment in skincare, and there are a few good reasons for this. First up, it’s water soluble so it stays active in your product for visible benefits, working to smooth away fine lines and wrinkles while firming. Plus, it has a potent brightening effect and reduces existing pigmentation.
What to try: A concentrated serum packs a brightening vitamin C punch, so apply one morning and night after cleansing and before hydrating for fast results. We like the gel-textured, glow-boosting Dr Dennis Gross C+ Collagen Brighten & Firm Vitamin C Serum
Best for: Reactive skin and anyone exposed to daily pollutants
What it does: Drinking green tea has long been heralded as a great way to boost internal antioxidants to fight diseases. Green tea enriched skincare works in a similar way by defending skin against the worst environmental aggressors, including pollution. Its powerful antioxidant properties also calm skin inflammation and soothe redness.
What to try: If you suffer from sensitised skin, then switching harsh facial washes for a cream cleanser can make all the difference. Try the creamy Perricone MD Hypo-allergenic Gentle Cleanser as the mild formula balances reactive skin, while the green tea extract provides antioxidant protection and soothes.
Best for: Skin that will be exposed to sunlight, sensitive or dry types
What it does: This superstar antioxidant works to minimise the skin’s own damaging reaction when it meets sunlight, preventing it from creating more free radicals and helping to repel skin-depleting rays. Naturally hydrating, vitamin E also works well in conjunction with vitamin C to boost radiance.
What to try: A daily SPF enriched with vitamin E will provide extra protection and nourish skin, even as the sun dehydrates it. We like the cloud-like texture of Evy Technology Daily UV Mousse SPF 30, which provides nourishing vitamin E enriched protection and creates a smooth base for makeup.
Best for: Those targeting the signs of ageing and uneven tone
What it does: Clinically proven to improve the skin’s own collagen synthesis and speed up cell turnover, retinol encourages skin to act younger and in turn it smooths away wrinkles for a firmer complexion.
What to try: Retinol produces amazing results, but it can also aggravate sensitive skin. It’s a good idea to start slowly so try a night cream every other evening. We recommend Clark’s Botanicals Retinol Rescue Overnight Cream which contains skin-soothing colloidal oatmeal and jasmine absolute to calm even reactive skin while providing excellent anti-ageing benefits.