The Free Radical Scavenger
If there is one category of skin care ingredients you can never have too much of, it’s antioxidants. They intervene to defend your skin against pollution and environmental damage, and work deep down to improve how skin works.
Antioxidants are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals – like vitamins A, B, C, E, and green tea – that protect your skin against free radicals. And yes, free radicals sound like a bad ‘70s rock band, but they’re actually molecules in the environment that damage your skin by clinging to your collagen and weakening elasticity. They come from things like air pollutants, chemicals, and cigarette smoke, and they basically suck the life out of your face.
Antioxidants neutralise those free radicals to protect your skin from damage. Great, right? But that’s not all: Some antioxidants also brighten your skin, calm irritation, and even smooth fine lines – as long as you choose the right ones.
Vitamin A – Anti-Ageing; Vitamin B – Hydration; Vitamin C – Brightener; Vitamin E – Moisturiser; Green Tea – Soother
UV rays, infrared radiation, pollution, and lifestyle factors generate damaging free radicals that prematurely age skin. Antioxidant skin care products neutralise these unstable molecules, acting as a second line of defence against photodamage and accelerated skin ageing. In addition to preventing damage, antioxidants have been proven to improve the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, laxity, and pigmentation by neutralisation of free radicals and helping to stimulate collagen production.
Antioxidant skin care products contain ingredients that intercept problems existing in the environment and then, through a complex process, lessen their visible impact on skin. Most antioxidants occur in fruits and vegetables, others are made in a lab (“designer antioxidants”). Both types offer benefits to all skin types, all ages for anti-ageing and skin health.
Take an apple, cut it in half, leave it out for an hour and watch as the flesh turns a murky brown. That process, my friends, is oxidisation, and it’s caused by free radicals in the air. In part, the same thing happens when it comes to our bodies. When we’re exposed to UV, pollution or other stressors such as smoke and chemicals, free radicals form in the skin. At a cellular level, these free radicals can kick off a chain reaction that causes a huge path of destruction and often, ultimately, the death of the skin cell. But antioxidants swoop in and neutralise free radicals to halt the process. Essentially they’re all kind of awesome. Common antioxidants include compounds such as vitamins C and E, coenzyme Q10, Idebenone, zinc, copper and beta-carotene, but the list is endless – there are millions of them, with so many different functions.
Our bodies do produce their own antioxidants (made by our cells), which neutralise 99.9 per cent of free radicals. But by the age of 30, our cells can no longer eliminate them fast enough (and that’s when fine lines and collagen depletion set in).
Just as important as the antioxidants is the container they are packaged in! The wrong packaging means you won’t be gaining the most from antioxidants! Despite their powerhouse abilities, antioxidants are delicate and must be packaged in containers that will ensure they remain effective, or else your skin won’t get their full benefit. As part of how they work to help your skin, antioxidants break down in the presence of light and air. So, if an antioxidant-rich moisturiser, serum, or other product is packaged in a jar or in clear packaging, it will likely lose its antioxidant benefit within a few weeks (or even days). How long this takes to occur depends on the formulation, but breakdown they will.
Any skin care products with antioxidants you use should be packaged in containers that are either airtight or air-restrictive and keep your fingers out of the product (putting fingers inside a jar steadily contaminates the contents and further breaks down the beneficial ingredients).