Antioxidants are molecules that fight harmful free radicals in our body. Free radicals are unstable and highly reactive molecules that have an uneven number of electrons. In order to become stable molecules, they must steal an electron from a healthy cell which then must do the same to make itself stable - this causes a chain reaction that damages healthy cells.
A certain amount of free radicals are created in our body to help fight off viruses and bacteria, however if there are too many present they are capable of causing oxidative stress (caused by the imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body), which in turn causes cell and DNA damage.
Factors that can cause the formation of free radicals are
UV rays (the sun)
The effects of oxidative stress can cause inflammation, premature ageing and has also been linked to certain diseases including heart disease and cancer.
So how do antioxidants help stop damage from free radicals?
Antioxidants can stabilise and neutralise free radicals simply by giving them an electron, meaning the free radicals can no longer cause cell damage. The antioxidant can stay stable even when loosing an electron themselves.
There are many different types of antioxidants including
Glutathione (which our body produces itself)
Antioxidants can be found in many foods such as
How can antioxidants help my skin?
A healthy diet rich in antioxidants will of course help your skin from the inside out to function better and reduce inflammation. But antioxidants applied topically can be great for keeping your skin healthy and protected and help reduce premature ageing that free radicals can cause. Think of an apple sliced in half, after a short while it starts to turn brown due to oxidation, however if lemon juice is applied to the apple it takes a lot longer to turn brown due to the antioxidants in the lemon juice. So antioxidants applied topically to the skin work in the same way, and reduce oxidative stress! Antioxidants in skincare can also help reduce inflammation, brighten the skin, help the skins barrier function better and soften fine lines and wrinkles.
Which antioxidants should I use on my skin and why?
Antioxidants are most often found in serums due to their ability to reach the deeper layers of the skins surface, but they can also be found in cleansers, toners, moisturisers and sunscreens.
Here are some great antioxidants to look out for in your skincare:
Vitamin C – probably the most popular antioxidant in skincare is due to its many other benefits. Vitamic C helps boost the skins collagen production causing it to look more plump and reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles. It also inhibits melanin production so causes a brightening affect on the skin, it is also great for reducing hyper-pigmentation and post breakout scarring.
Topical Vitamin A - also known as retinol is another super popular antioxidant which stimulates collagen production, lightens hyperpigmentation by inhibiting melanin production. It also increases the skins cellular turnover bringing fresher and healthier skin cells to the surface, which can also help to reduce acne by slowing down oil production.
Vitamin E – there are different forms of vitamin E found in skincare, mostly as tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol. This antioxidant helps with skin healing and skin repair, it’s anti-inflammatory, moisturising and it’s helps to strengthen the skins barrier. Many serums contain both vitamin E and vitamin C as they boost each other’s efficiency.
Niacinamide – also known as Vitamin B3, this antioxidant helps to reduce the appearance of pores, improves the look of dullness and uneven skin tone and helps strengthen the skins barrier. It also helps to soften the look of fine lines and wrinkles and is also anti-inflammatory so is great for people with sensitive skin and rosacea.
Resveratrol – this potent antioxidant is found in red grapes, red wine, nuts and berries. But it is excellent at protecting the skin when applied topically. It also helps repair skin damage, brightens the skin and helps reduce the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
Products containing antioxidants
Here are some products we at re:lax love!
Mad Hippie Vitamin C serum – which also contains antioxidants Ferulic acid and Vitamin E
Mad Hippie Vitamin A serum – which also contains aloe Vera and Hyaluronate acid for hydration
Haeckels eco marine cream containing vitamin E as tocopherol