I can’t get enough of antioxidants. If a serum or moisturizer isn’t loaded with them, chances are I won’t even give it a second look.
Antioxidants are your skin’s police force. They patrol your body looking for free radicals felons ready to form wrinkles, give you dark spots and inflame your skin. Once they get hold of one, they destroy it before it can wreak its damage.
Here’s how it works (and why you should load your skincare routine with antioxidants if you want your skin to stay healthy and bright):
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are your skin’s #1 enemy. They’re highly unstable molecules caused by something called “oxidization process”.
Here’s the simple version: a healthy molecule turns into a free radical when it loses one its electrons. Without it, it goes crazy. It must get it back and become whole again.
When it spots a healthy molecule, the free radical attacks it and robs it of its electron. The robbed molecule is now a free radicals. Now, it’s its turn to become a thief.
It’s the beginning of chain reaction that destroys anything in its path, including vital proteins such as collagen and elastin and even cellular DNA.
Free radicals speed up the aging process. In the best case scenario, this only gives you wrinkles and dark spots. In the worst case scenario, it can lead to deadly diseases, such as cancer and heart diseases.
But, what starts this nasty chain and turns a healthy molecule into a free radical in the first place? All the usual culprits:
- Body processes like metabolism and breathing
- Diet rich in sugar and poor in vegs
- UV rays
You can’t stop breathing or eating, but you can nourish your body with healthy foods, drink alcohol in moderation, wear sunscreen every day and quit smoking.
The healthier a lifestyle you lead, the fewer free radicals your body has to deal with. But, that’s not always fun. So, let’s see how to destroy those nasty free radicals:
What Are Antioxidants?
Enter antioxidants. They’re your body’s natural defence mechanism against free radicals. The most famous members of the antioxidant family are:
- Coenzyme Q10
- Green tea
- Superoxide dismutase
- Vitamin C
- Vitamin E
Their job is to destroy every free radical they see before they can wreak their damage on your skin. They do this in two ways, depending on the antioxidant’s MO:
- Chain-breakers: these antioxidant break the free radical chain after it’s started. Examples include vitamins C and E.
- Chain-neutralizers: these antioxidants neutralize the initiating free radicals, slowing down or even preventing the chain reaction. Examples include superoxide dismutase.
How To Help Prevent Free Radical Damage
Because EVERYTHING (well, almost!) causes those pesky free radicals, free radical damage is constant. Every single day your body has to deal with these felons and destroy them.
But, it can’t do it alone. Your body is well-equipped to cope with free radicals caused by metabolic processes, but these days it has to also put up with antioxidants caused by pollution, our unhealthy Western diet, tanning habits… It’s too much for it to handle alone.
Your body needs your help. Quitting bad habits like smoking and heavy drinking is a great place to start. But, your body also needs you to constantly replenish it with a new stream of antioxidants. You can do it in two ways:
- Eat a healthy diet full of antioxidants-rich fruits, vegs and berries
- Use skincare products loaded with antioxidants
Skincare is my area of expertise, so I’m sharing with you my fave antioxidant serums and moisturizers below:
- Clinique Super Rescue Antioxidant Night Moisturizer ($47.00): there are three versions of this moisturizer – for very dry skin, for very oily skin, and for dry to combination skin – and they’re all full of antioxidants. Available at Sephora.
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00): a cheaper dupe for Skinceuticals CE Ferulic – but with even more antioxidants! Available at Sephora.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Balancing Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum With Retinol ($34.00): it has pretty much every antioxidant you can think of, including vitamins A, C, and E, green tea, and grape seed extract. Available at Skinstore.
- Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum ($34.00): a gentler version of the serum above for very dry and sensitive skin. Available at Nordstrom.
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($162.00): the original CEF serum. Available at Skinstore.
The Bottom Line
Antioxidants are your skin’s BFF. Eat them up. Slather them all over your face. Give your skin the daily dose it needs. You’ll age a lot more slowly and keep your complexion clear and younger-looking for longer.