Before we get into why antioxidants are such a crucial element of a skincare routine, it’s important to establish what they are in the first place so we can answer the question “What do antioxidants do?”.
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals (more on those in a second) and thus delay or prevent cell damage from occurring within our bodies. They can be found in the form of antioxidant foods—that is, foods that are rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C and vitamin E—like berries (especially strawberries, blueberries and raspberries), kale, dark chocolate, pecans and red cabbage. You can also find antioxidants for skin, which can help prevent and treat cell damage and premature signs of aging. These often come in the form of antioxidant serum and antioxidant cream with vitamin C.
Now that you know what antioxidants are, let’s delve into antioxidant benefits for skin.
Antioxidants protect skin from free radicals.
Antioxidant skincare is centred largely on the concept of preventing skin damage and signs of premature aging caused by pesky free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage skin cells. These molecules are unstable because they’re missing an electron, so they’re on the hunt. During this search, they cause things like premature lines and wrinkles, dark spots and a compromised skin barrier. This is where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants for skin act as a neutralizer against free radicals, giving up some of their own electrons (so selfless!) and thus counteracting the negative effects of free radicals and acting as an “off switch” for the havoc they can wreak.
Antioxidants are anti-inflammatory.
As if that weren’t enough, antioxidants also have anti-inflammatory benefits. These help your skin and your internal health, as inflammation is the source of everything from pimples and blemishes to illnesses, pain and swelling. That’s why it’s important to include antioxidants in both your diet (via antioxidant foods) and your skincare routine (with antioxidant serums and creams).
Antioxidants help correct signs of aging.
Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in your body and can cause collagen to break down within your skin. We all know that collagen is what keeps skin looking plump and youthful, so you definitely don’t want to disrupt that balance. Thankfully, antioxidants work against free radicals, restoring balance within your skin and maintaining your collagen supply, smoothing lines and wrinkles and fading dark spots, resulting in younger-looking skin.
Antioxidants improve the overall appearance of skin.
Antioxidants also have a brightening effect, thanks to their ability to reverse photodamage and even out skin tone. Combined with their aforementioned knack for reducing signs of aging like fine lines, wrinkles and sagging skin, it’s easy to see why antioxidant benefits for skin are essentially endless.
Antioxidants can help repair sun damage.
Accidentally spent a bit too much time in the sun? Antioxidant skincare can help keep your secret by preventing your skin’s natural inflammatory response to the sun’s harmful UV rays. Some antioxidants, like vitamin C, also inhibit tyrosinase, an enzyme that stimulates dark-spot-causing melanin production.
Which antioxidant is best for my skin?
If your skin is dry and needs moisture, try vitamin E. The antioxidant, also referred to as alpha-tocopherol, is known for its ability to speed up the skin’s healing process, making it able to target dryness and loss of moisture effectively and efficiently.
If you want to target dull skin and early signs of aging, try vitamin C. The hero ingredient (and the star of La Roche-Posay Pure Vitamin C10 Anti-Aging Serum) is often listed as L-ascorbic acid and is one of the most studied antioxidants that’s clinically proven to help with fading dark spots, brightening skin tone and boosting collagen production.
If wrinkles are your main concern, try selenium. The mineral, which is found in La Roche-Posay’s iconic thermal spring water, ensures that skin remains firm and protected by stopping free radical damage before wrinkles have a chance to form.
For skin barrier repair and combatting hyperpigmentation, try niacinamide. Also known as vitamin B3, it improves skin’s tone and texture, calms inflammation, soothes redness and improves skin’s barrier function and ability to retain moisture. It can be found in La Roche-Posay Retinol B3 Anti-Aging Serum.
To target inflammation and puffiness, look for skincare products with caffeine, like La Roche-Posay Pigmentclar Eyes. Like a cup of coffee for your skin, caffeine is said to de-puff undereye bags, decrease the appearance of dark circles and give you a more refreshed complexion.