Antioxidants guard against the skin’s vulnerability to the sun’s UV rays (Ultra Violet radiation) and free radical damage. They work to stop the breakdown of the skin’s defensive barrier and the process of oxidation in skin, which leads to oxidative stress.
Oxidative stress is when there’s an imbalance between free radical activity and antioxidants. Free radicals are already present in your body, they help to kill off pathogens which would normally lead to infections. Imbalances in the skin due to overexposure to chemicals and environmental factors create free radical molecules which have a negative effect on your skin.
An intrusion of free radicals can cause a chemical reaction in your body as they react with other molecules effortlessly. These reactions are known as oxidative stress.
If you don’t have enough antioxidants in your skin to fight off the free radicals, your DNA, proteins, and fatty acids can become damaged. This damage can cause a range of health problems and skin conditions including:
Free radicals are naturally present in your body, helping to fight disease and keep the body healthy. Overexposure to environmental and lifestyle factors can cause the imbalance between the free radicals and antioxidants. Major contributors to damaging free radicals are:
Antioxidants, the superpower working to protect your skin, stabilize the effects of oxidative stress. It’s also known that once a topical antioxidant is absorbed into the skin, it cannot be washed or rubbed off.
Vitamin E, a nutrient antioxidant, prevents cholesterol from oxidizing. The amazing power of vitamin E can prevent the cells from breaking down and leading to heart disease. It’s been found that vitamin E can even reverse the early signs of deteriorating cells that produce cholesterol oxidization.
The daily amounts recommended for vitamin E cannot all be collected from food, so applying it topically is the next best way to get enough of the natural benefits.
Vitamin C should be taken along with vitamin E. Vitamin C helps to recharge vitamin E, helping it to do its job more efficiently. Without the help of vitamin C, vitamin E alone can cause its own problems.
Repeated exposure to the sun without sufficient protection can lead to a varying degree of skin disorders. The sun’s rays (Ultra-Violet rays) infiltrate through the layers of skin to damage skin cells and lead to skin problems such as:
UVR has three sub-categories known as UVA, UVB, and UVC. UVA and UVB reach the skin and cause the skin’s cells to mutate which leads to the varying skin problems.
UVA is the leading culprit that gets deep into the skin and damages the DNA. Antioxidants fight off these mutations to keep the body staying healthy on a daily basis. The depletion of antioxidants in the skin let the mutations continue to damage the cells. A daily renewal of antioxidants can prevent the mutations from continuing onto major problems in the skin.
The effects of UVB rays take on a carcinogenic quality leaving the cells with lesions if unprotected. Antioxidants work to repair and produce new healthy cells.
UVC rays are the rays that are further out in the atmosphere. These rays are blocked by the ozone layer, which is why it’s important to protect the ozone layer.
Research has found that plants containing antioxidants can also benefit human skin and react as they would normally. As this research becomes more widely known, natural skincare companies have adopted the same procedures and are using the plant's antioxidant powers in their natural skincare and cosmetics.
Favorable ingredients used in natural skincare and cosmetics that include antioxidants are:
Found in the pineal gland of mammals, it can also be found in plants and is the first line of defense for oxidative stress. Melatonin was found to have great antioxidant abilities for fighting off free radicals.
It was first found in algae in 1991 then in green algae, fungi, and bacteria. Since then, melatonin has been found in the shoots, leaves, fruits, seeds, and roots of plants.
The many antioxidants in polyphenols can be found in tea leaves, grape seeds, almond seeds, blueberries, and pomegranate extract. Green tea has beneficial amounts of antioxidants that fight off free radicals. Grape seeds have also been studied over various years and have been found to contain an enormous number of polyphenols.
The beneficial effects of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds in polyphenols greatly contribute to improving skin health. They're especially in repairing sun damage, as shown in numerous studies and research papers.
Honokiol is a molecule that comes from the magnolia plant (Magnolia officinalis). Studies have found that the antioxidant properties in honokiol can reduce the effects of the sun’s damage on the skin, making it an excellent ingredient for sun protection cream.
A flavonoid commonly found in plant pigments. On its own, it’s not suitable for topical delivery on the skin/ But with added polymers, it is stable enough to be a beneficial antioxidant to fight off free radicals and tissue repair.
Sulforaphone is a natural antioxidant produced when eating broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. It can prevent the early signs of premature aging. Cancer cells are significantly reduced through the antioxidant and therapeutic properties in sulforaphane.
The antioxidant properties of apocynin have been proven to improve the neuronal damage caused by inflammation of the spinal cord.
The improvement of nerve function to the spinal cord has been studied and found that the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory therapeutic properties did indeed cause much improvement in those case studies.
Aloe vera (pictured above) leaf extract contains high levels of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties. Aloe vera and curcumin together have proved to be very beneficial for topical delivery of natural skincare products. It also has the ability to fight against the damage caused by the sun’s UVA and UVB rays.
A strong antioxidant, curcumin is present in turmeric at moderately low levels. Known for its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and therapeutic properties, curcumin can be used to fight against sun damage, boost brain power, and fight against Alzheimer’s. Great for treating swollen joints due to free radical damage.
Found to accelerate the healing of wounds, Milk Thistle is an herbal remedy often used for liver treatment. It is a naturally occurring poly-phenolic flavonoid antioxidant that prevents skin cell damage from free radicals.
Ginseng is a common antioxidant, known for its moisturizing abilities to fight against contact dermatitis.
Extracts of algae have shown to be productive in fighting against UVR (Ultra-Violet Rays). Antioxidant activity can protect the skin against sun damage caused by exposure to UVA and UVB rays.
Propolis is a plant resin collected by bees, it’s an excellent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that promotes wound-healing benefits. With a high content of polyphenols and flavonoids, propolis proves to be a stable antioxidant.
Acetyl-L-carnitine is a powerful antioxidant that slows down the aging process and fights against oxidative stress and antioxidant activity.
Antioxidants are some of the most important nutrients you can apply to your skin, and now that you know more about them, you can seek them out in beauty products for your routine.