When it comes to our health, antioxidants are vital, as without them illnesses like heart disease and cancer can ensue. “Luckily our bodies cells naturally produce their own antioxidants, and then plant-based foods like fruits and vegetables supply the rest,” shares Sara Cheeney, Aesthetic Nurse Practitioner and Director of Pure Perfection Clinic. And they are in high demand as they help combat the effects of free radicals created by exposure to environmental aggressors like pollution, UV, smoke and more. The free radicals are chemicals that in high numbers, cause oxidative stress, damages cells, alters DNA and triggers chronic disease. They do all this by stealing electrons from molecules in the body, which is where antioxidants come in,” explains Cheeney.
How antioxidants work
Antioxidants on the other hand like to generously dole out electrons to free radicals, helping to repair DNA and cell damage. This is good news inside and out, as over time free radical damage can accelerate the ageing process, by breaking down all-important collagen and elastin, triggering an increase in melanin, slowing down cell turnover, and creating inflammation. All of which can lead to “wrinkles, sagging, dryness, dullness, redness, acne, pigmentation and more,” adds Cheeney.
Studies show that a diet rich in antioxidants like vitamin C, vitamin E, beta-carotene, and minerals selenium and manganese can slow down premature ageing. But skincare laced with antioxidants can pack a punch too, and the most tried and true are vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A.
Hero antioxidants to try
Tocopherol or tocotrienols as it’s usually listed on ingredients list is an equal opportunity kind of antioxidant, meaning it works well on all skin types and tones and is incredibly multifaceted. “It’s ultra-calming and soothing thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, wards off premature ageing as it absorbs energy from UV light to stop free radical damage, not to mention it protects the skin barrier function to keep skin well hydrated, soft and supple,” explains Cheeney.
Also known as ascorbic acid, this vitamin is like “an antibiotic for the skin,” says Cheeney. It ramps up collagen production, for smother, tauter skin, and works wonders on evening out skin tones, and brightening the complexion – thanks to its ability to speed up cell turnover and inhibit melanin synthesis. It protects against the ultimate ager – the sun, boosts wound healing, reduces redness and hydrates – cementing its place as a gold standard skincare active.
When we talk about vitamin A in skincare, we’re referring to a group of antioxidant compounds known as retinoids. Retinol is a much loved over-the-counter retinoid that increases cell turnover, as well as collagen and elastin production, for a smoother, brighter complexion. It also reduces oil production, for tighter looking pores and fewer breakouts too.
Add all of these antioxidants to your arsenal (whilst leading a healthy lifestyle) and there is no doubt you’ll be well protected against free radical damage while sporting your best complexion yet.