We hear about antioxidants in foods and skin care, but what are they and why are they so important when it comes to skin and anti-aging? Let’s dig into the science behind these serums to understand how they can be a game changer in your skin care routine.
What is oxidative damage, and how is it aging our skin?
Every single day, our skin is exposed to oxidative stress caused by UV rays and environmental pollutants. When these stressors hit the skin, they cause our cells to produce reactive oxygen species, aka free radicals, that build up in the cells. These free radicals damage DNA within the cell, activate matrix metalloproteinases that hack away at our collagen and elastin, stimulate pigment release causing dark spots, and trigger inflammation that weakens our skin barrier. Give it some time, and skin is wrinkly, less elastic, drier, discolored, and more prone to cancerous change.
That sounds terrible! How can we protect our skin from this daily assault?
Fortunately, daily application of potent topical antioxidants can neutralize these free radicals and deter the damage they wreak on our skin. The trouble is that antioxidants can be unstable and irritating, making it challenging to choose the best one for your skin type.
What do I look for when selecting an antioxidant product?
Vitamin C is the poster child of the antioxidant world and the mainstay of most topical products, however there are some things to consider in product selection.
- The bottle matters: Vitamin C products must be in UV protective bottles and contents protected from the sun. Choose a serum in a brown bottle, or an opaque pump bottle. The product shouldn’t see the sun until it’s on your skin.
- Different Vitamin C’s Available: L-Ascorbic Acid vs. Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THDA): These are the two most stable types of Vitamin C in skin care products. L-Ascorbic acid is potent, but it requires an acidic solution. This can sometimes cause irritation, so more sensitive skin types may do better with THDA.
Products we love: SkinBetter Alto Advanced (Contains THDA), SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic (L-Ascorbic Acid), Revision C+ Complex (THDA)
Vitamin E is actually the most abundant antioxidant in our skin, and many Vitamin C products contain both as they work synergistically to scavenge free radicals.
Niacinamide, aka Vitamin B3, is an antioxidant that improves DNA excision repair, decreases oil production, and improves redness. It can be found in products at concentrations of 5% or more to help treat acne and promote skin brightening.
Other Honorable Mentions include Vitamin A, Green Tea Extract, Resveratrol, and Copper, all of which are frequent fliers in anti-aging skin care lines.
When do I apply antioxidants?
Because most of the free radicals are generated during the day from sun and environmental pollutants, it’s best to apply antioxidants in the morning prior to SPF.
I have other products I use. What order do I apply everything?
A great general rule of thumb is to apply products in the order of thinnest to thickest. In the morning, your SPF should be the last product to hit your skin before your make up.
What about taking a Vitamin C supplement or eating an orange a day?
While diets rich in antioxidants are excellent for overall health, the dietary Vitamin C does not impact the skin as effectively as topical applications. Continue chomping on brightly colored fruits and veggies as those help overall health and reduce inflammation, but also incorporate an effective antioxidant in topical form.
How long until I see results?
When using the medical grade antioxidants listed above, studies showed improvements in redness, discoloration, and texture within 12 weeks. Remember, products are part of you skin health long game as they work to repair and prevent damage.
The right topical antioxidant can be a true game changer in your skin health. As with all of our skin care products at Georgia Skin Specialists, antioxidants improve the health and appearance of your skin. Our providers and aestheticians are available to discuss your specific skin goals and customize your regimen that let’s you really “C” great results!