It’s hard to believe there was ever a time when antioxidants didn’t “exist” in skin care: we didn’t know about them or their potential, but they were always there. Now they’re one of the biggest buzzwords and trendiest ingredients. A skin-care routine without antioxidants is a wasted one, which is a personal opinion, but one I share with many leading dermatologists. Here’s why they continue to receive immeasurable praise.
What are antioxidants?
In scientific terms, antioxidants are molecular compounds that inhibit the oxidation process, which is a chemical reaction that can produce harsh free radicals (compounds in the body that can cause illness and disease if their levels get too high). Our bodies have their own antioxidant-fighting mechanisms to keep these levels down, but adding antioxidant protection can further boost those mechanisms. In our diet, we can find high levels of antioxidants in foods like spinach, carrots, kale, avocados and many more, and in our beauty regimens, we can use antioxidants to protect and rejuvenate our skin.
What role do antioxidants play in skin care?
“Antioxidants protect the skin by neutralizing free-radical damage and oxidative stress caused by sunlight, pollution, infrared light, etc,” says Fort Lauderdale, FL dermatologist Dr. Matthew Elias. “These stressors lead to aging effects like wrinkles, fine lines, dark spots, growths, and even skin cancers, and antioxidants can help protect from that damage.” Miami dermatologist Dr. Deborah Longwill says antioxidants play a large role in skin-care products for this reason, and can also help to “reduce inflammation, allow the skin to repair itself, and help brighten the skin tone and complexion.”
Are antioxidants more effective in skin care when they are combined?
“Yes,” says Dr. Elias. “Interestingly, studies show that by combining vitamin C and vitamin E together and stabilizing them in ferulic acid, they are more stable and more effective at preventing premature skin aging.” I remember the first time I tried SkinCeuticals’ famous C E Ferulic serum and learned about Dr. Pinnell’s (the brand’s founding scientist; he was also a derm) breakthrough antioxidant discoveries. As the first product to combine vitamin C, vitamin E and ferulic acid in a single, stable formula, C E Ferulic forever changed the antioxidant skin-care space. Since then, there have been many copycats, but the OG is still beloved by dermatologists (and beauty editors!) all over the world. “SkinCeuticals revolutionized antioxidants, and C E Ferulic is still the gold-standard,” Dr. Elias adds.
Which antioxidants are the best in skin care?
Though vitamin C is backed by the most research, other noteworthy antioxidant ingredients include niacinamide, retinol, resveratrol, green tea and vitamin E. Each one brings about its own unique benefits, so it’s best to speak to a dermatologist or aesthetician to find the right product for your skin.