You’ve been hearing about antioxidants for a long time, and how they are an important part of a good skin care routine. But what exactly ARE antioxidants? And what is the best way to incorporate them into your routine? The good news is that antioxidants can be found in some of your skincare staples (hello, vitamin C serum) as well as some pretty delicious foods. Ready to dig in?
Before we discuss antioxidants, we need to discuss their arch-nemeses – free radicals and reactive oxygen species (ROS). Free radicals are produced by many physiologic processes inside the body (Metabolism! Cellular defense!) and can also be found in our external environment in things like cigarette smoke and pollution. Reactive oxygen species are a subtype of free radicals that contain an oxygen molecule.
Free radicals can be harmful to the body because they are unstable molecules that can damage the genetic material and structure of our cells, resulting in things like the breakdown of collagen (seen as fine lines and sagging skin), inflammation (seen as redness and acne), and discoloration.
Antioxidants to the rescue! Antioxidants are compounds that work to deactivate and neutralize free radicals and are soothing to and protective of the skin (as well as other cells in the body).
The good news is that antioxidants can be found in a slew of healthy and delicious foods that you’re probably already eating.
Berries are packed with antioxidants. If you have to pick just one kind of berry, make it blueberries. They are commonly referred to as a superfood because they contain more antioxidants (specifically anthocyanins) than most any other fruit or vegetable. In fact, one cup of blueberries has well over the USDA’s recommended daily dose of antioxidants.
Green tea is full of a type of antioxidant called catechins, the most abundant of which is epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG). In addition to the protective effects on your skin, some of the cellular benefits of green tea include weight management, and lowered risk of cognitive impairment with aging. Drink up!
Dark chocolate with 70% or higher cocoa content is another delicious antioxidant choice. Dark chocolate contains flavonols which may also help lower blood pressure and normalize high cholesterol levels.
Antioxidants can also be found in skincare products, and the most recognizable one is your trusty vitamin C serum. Vitamin C has numerous skin-boosting benefits including stimulating collagen production and fading discoloration. It scavenges free radicals, protecting your skin from their damage, and thus should be worn in the morning, applied beneath your sunscreen. Vitamin C is often found in combination with vitamin E and ferulic acids – both antioxidants themselves – which act to stabilize the vitamin C so it lasts longer. Vitamin E helps promote wound healing in skin health, and ferulic acid is a brightener and works synergistically with other antioxidants to boost their effects. Our Fresh Squeezed C+E+Ferulic Acid Serum combines all three ingredients into one powerful serum to protect your skin all day long.
Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is an antioxidant that can calm and soothe the skin, restore the skin’s barrier function, and improve hydration and is known to help reduce acne inflammation. And finally, everyone’s favorite nighttime active – retinol (a vitamin A derivative) – also has antioxidant properties! Retinol is the most tested and proven topical to restore healthy collagen production to the skin and stimulate cell turnover and renewal. Need a great retinol? Try our Nightly Habit Retinol Serum, it’s loaded with retinol + vitamin C to give your skin an extra boost.
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