The Vast Skincare Benefits Of Antioxidants

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Antioxidants: We know you've heard of them. They're in your diet and supplements, and you probably learned about them in science class. While antioxidants are known for building your immunity and helping your overall health, they are also great for your skin. So if you're new to this set of powerful, health-loving ingredients, here's your much-needed crash course on antioxidants, how they work, and why you need them in your skincare routine.


Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals in your body. Sorry for the impromptu chemistry class, but to understand antioxidants, we need to understand some pesky molecules called free radicals. Healthline explains that free radicals are molecules containing "an uneven number of electrons." This uneven number renders the free radicals unstable. As a result, free radicals react with surrounding molecules and take up their electrons to become stable. The problem is when this happens, it causes damage to your cells and their membranes. Antioxidants are primarily rich in electrons, and as such, they stop cellular damage by giving the free radicals what they desperately need: electrons. Thus, the free radicals can leave your body's cells alone. Chemistry class is over.


You can get antioxidants from eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, but applying some on your skin has pretty awesome benefits too. Here are some of them.

Antioxidants protect your skin from the environment

Now, where do these harmful free radicals come from anyway? Good question. The answer is they're all around us and even within us, with major sources including pollution, lifestyle choices like cigarette smoking, and the sun's UV rays. UV rays and air pollution, both environmental aggressors, produce free radicals that react with the molecules on the surface of your skin, causing inflammation. Prolonged exposure to the sun also causes hyperpigmentation and duller-looking skin. But antioxidants, as medical aesthetician Allie Summers explains, "neutralize free radicals to protect your skin from damage from pollutants and other environmental aggressors. They promote collagen growth, brighten skin tone, and can even make your sunscreen more efficacious" (per Tribeca MedSpa). Used together with adequate amounts of sunscreen, antioxidants like vitamins B, C, and E in particular are great for protecting and brightening the skin, and reducing inflammation (per Dr. Sylvia Skincare).


They firm skin and reduce signs of aging

If you're yet to catch up, here's a quick debrief: free radicals, which are notoriously reactive, unstable, and on the search for electrons. To become stable, they can react with the cells on your skin's surface, damaging them via oxidative stress. This damage can manifest in several ways, including premature aging. 


According to Dermstore, free radicals cause premature aging by promoting inflammation and breaking down collagen, which is a huge part of the skin's structural framework. All this culminates in a lack of skin firmness, a loss of elasticity, and dull skin. Wrinkles, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation set in, as a result, all signs of premature aging. Antioxidants like omega-3 fatty acids and niacinamide repair this by neutralizing the free radicals that cause it. Antioxidants also improve the appearance of said fine lines and wrinkles by improving collagen production and helping the skin heal (per Paula's Choice).

Antioxidants protect the skin's moisture barrier

Your skin's moisture barrier is on the outermost layer of your skin and is your body's first line of defense against pathogens (per WebMD). However, your skin barrier is also vulnerable to free radicals which can cause inflammation and dehydration of the protective layer, leaving the skin dull and vulnerable to infections. But there is good news, and it comes in the form of antioxidants. Garnier USA explains that antioxidants help your moisture barrier preserve its hydrating and protective function by strengthening it. Ensuring moisture does not escape between the brick-like cells of your barrier keeps your skin hydrated and healthy for longer. 


Strengthening and maintaining the skin barrier also improves your skin's overall appearance, helping with pimples, large pores, and other imperfections. Antioxidants like resveratrol, niacinamide, and polyphenols also soothe the skin in inflammation by improving and healing the barrier (per Dermstore).

How to incorporate antioxidants into your skincare routine

Now that you know the benefits of antioxidants for your skin, here are a few ways to use them. Antioxidants in skincare come in different forms, like lotions, body washes, foam cleansers, and serums. Serums are skincare products containing high concentrations of active ingredients, including antioxidants like retinol, niacinamide, and vitamin C. To use antioxidant serums, BioClarity says to cleanse your skin and apply a few drops by patting them with your fingertips. After applying the serum, go in with your treatments, moisturizer, and the rest of your skincare routine. For body washes and lotions, apply them onto clean skin, rinse off when applicable, and stay away from sunlight.


For our top picks containing antioxidants, we love The Ordinary Resveratrol 3% + Ferulic Acid 3% Serum which includes two powerful antioxidants and has a customer rating of 4.3 stars at Ulta. We are also ardent fans of the Olay Cleansing & Renewing Body Wash with Retinol & Vitamin B3, which boasts 4.7 stars at Walmart.

And for our final tip, sunscreen is indispensable. Antioxidants work to protect your skin from damage the environment induces. However, they work worlds better when you use them with the right amount of sunscreen. Overall, incorporating antioxidants into your routine is something you wont regret.