"If you’re a fan of Paula’s books and Web sites, you’re well aware that she’s a big proponent of using skin-care products that contain antioxidants. Research has shown time and again that topically applied antioxidants have multiple benefits for skin, particularly in the presence of sunlight. What I didn’t fully realize was how critical antioxidants are as we age. Here’s what I learned from a recent article published in the peer-reviewed journal Cosmetic Dermatology:
- Skin exposure to UV radiation can completely exhaust the skin’s natural supply of antioxidants. With continued unprotected sun exposure, UV rays can act like a kid in a candy store, indiscriminately “helping themselves” to your skin’s support structure. It’s as though your skin’s soldiers (its natural supply of defenses against oxidative damage) have laid down their arms, allowing the enemy to win the war. The result? With continued unprotected sun exposure, skin’s oxidative defense system becomes incapable of fully regenerating itself. What’s worse, the little that does get regenerated is consistently weakened and less capable of defending skin from damage.
- Topically-applied antioxidants not only prevent damage from reactive oxygen species (or ROS, rouge molecules generated by free radical damage) but they also help prevent the conversion of normally harmless or helpful substances in skin into pro-oxidants. Imagine that: going without sufficient antioxidant protection and ignoring sun protection means innocent substances in skin begin acting like criminals, looting your skin of what it needs to look youthful and resist damage.
- This last point I already knew but it bears repeating: there is no single best antioxidant. In fact, shopping for skin-care products centered around one antioxidant (like vitamins C or E) means you won’t be giving your skin its best chance of recovering from the various types of damage caused by oxidation and sunlight. There are thousands of antioxidants available, and among those that have the most research, one thing has become clear: different antioxidants have different strengths and weaknesses. For example, although vitamin C is involved in collagen synthesis, it isn’t fat soluble. That means it needs help to penetrate the lipids (fats) naturally present in skin if it is to reach its target and do the most good. Some antioxidants are all-around free radical scavengers while others work better to regenerate substances in skin that work to defend it from oxidative damage and inflammation. The bottom line is that taking a cocktail approach to using antioxidant topically is best. Variety is the spice of antioxidants!
I am continually fascinated by new research concerning how antioxidants impact our skin and overall health. Learning about how and why they work and how they should be formulated for maximum efficacy is one of the most exciting parts of my job. Best of all is the feedback we get from customers who’ve used our antioxidant-rich serums and moisturizers. The changes they see in their skin are exactly how well-formulated products loaded with antioxidants are supposed to work. Couple this with daily sun protection, a healthy diet, and smart lifestyle choices and you’re well on your way toward keeping skin’s defense systems ready to handle the reality of living in an oxygen-rich world."