Long story short: antioxidants help prevent early visible signs of aging in our skin.
As the years go by, our skin gradually loses its ability to produce collagen and elastin. These two molecules are buzzwords in the world of skincare and they’re as important as they seem. Imagine your skin as a road. Collagen and elastin are the infrastructure that make the road drivable. Losing the ability to produce collagen and elastin is part of the natural aging process of the skin. However, there are other reasons you might begin to see your skin aging at a quicker rate.
Here’s an ugly truth: free radicals in your body may be the cause of premature wrinkles and discoloration.
A less ugly truth reminds us that there is a way to prevent the buildup of free radicals in the body, a way to reduce oxidative stress, and a way to boost the overall health of our cells. That truth comes in the form of antioxidants.
The benefits of antioxidants can easily be yours.
Antioxidants are good for us, but why?
Antioxidants are everywhere. They’re in our food, smoothies, skincare creams and even in sunscreen. You know these compounds are good – maybe even great – but do you know why?
Rusting iron, browning avocados and bruised apples… they’ve all got something in common with the aging process. Discoloration, fine lines, and the appearance of wrinkles happens because of oxidation. Oxidation is a gnarly process that damages your skin. It’s likely the cause of premature aging symptoms; you know, liver spots before you’re 40 and fine lines before you’re ready to see them.
Antioxidants are important because they act as a shield against oxidation. In doing so, they minimize the signs of aging and the possibility of future damage to your skin.
Antioxidants: Nature’s Way of Fighting Oxidative Stress
Antioxidants are natural compounds that protect the cells in our bodies. They've been shown to minimize damage from free radicals and oxidation stress.
Free radicals are uncharged, reactive molecules that are produced from oxidation. This process happens naturally in our bodies when we have exposure to external pollution, the breakdown of certain medications internally or even exposure to radiation.
That’s not to say all free radicals are big, bad and full of harm. Some of them might be, but it’s the accumulation of free radicals that creates a problem. Oxidative stress happens when we don’t have enough antioxidants to fight the oxidation process.
Oxidative stress can create all kinds of health issues. The National Center for Biotechnology Information explains, “[oxidative stress] plays a significant role in the formation of degenerative illnesses. This includes autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular diseases, neurodegenerative diseases, cancer, arthritis and cataracts.”
These illnesses aren’t anything we’d like to be a part of.
Antioxidants are on the market after clinical trials and increased research
Antioxidant ingredients fill a variety of skincare products on the market. These formulas are full of antioxidants to produce younger looking skin. While some are by prescription, an increasingly large number of skincare products with antioxidants are available at your favorite cosmetic store.
The cosmetic industry has been harnessing antioxidant compounds like vitamin C, vitamin E, zinc, beta carotene, and more. The range of botanicals and antioxidants infused into beauty products is increasing, and for good reason!
Some antioxidant ingredients are even being actively studied in clinical trials for medicinal use. The research feeding these clinical trials and studies is important. It helps us develop a stronger understanding of how to protect our cells, health, and bodies.
“The use of topical antioxidants is gaining favor,” explains Dr. Patricia Farris, a dermatologist. Her area of expertise is within antioxidants, their benefits and educating pharmaceutical industries regarding their use. “More and more scientific studies are proving their effectiveness.” We like the sound of that!
7 Antioxidants for Prevention of Premature Aging
Get acquainted with the antioxidants that will be your best allies in preventing oxidative stress.
Vitamin E (tocopherol)
Vitamin E is an antioxidant that conditions and hydrates your skin, as well as boosting your skins ability to heal.
While it can’t be technically called a sunscreen, vitamin E does protect your skin from UV radiation. It also works to reduce inflammation, a frustrating side effect of the aging process. Vitamin E helps your skin look younger because it boosts collagen production, which we know declines with age.
Where to get more of it in your diet: vegetable oils, almonds, avocados, seeds, whole grains, spinach, kale, papaya, and olives.
Vitamin C (L-absorbic acid)
You probably reach for extra vitamin C when you’re feeling under the weather. Typically known for its sniffle-fighting prowess, vitamin C has some other, lesser known benefits. These benefits are namely for your skin. The vitamin works as an antioxidant and collagen production booster – both of which help your skin maintain a youthful appearance.
Vitamin C comes from fruits and vegetables loaded with absorbic acid. It can also be applied topically, because ingesting vitamin C orally doesn’t have much effect on your skin.
Where to get more of it in your diet: oranges, broccoli, grapefruit, strawberries, blueberries, red peppers, kale, guava and kiwis.
Even if you’re not a fan of Panera’s delicious green tea, the tea itself has great health benefits. So far we know that green tea helps prevent illnesses ranging from cancer to heart disease. And, of course, it can help your aging skin.
Catechins, the antioxidant in green tea, helps clear cell damage in your skin. It also helps repair the visible signs of aging like wrinkles, sagginess and even blemishes. While blemishes might not be a sign of aging, catechins can help get rid of them.
Green tea, when topically applied in a cream or skincare treatment, reduces sun damage and prevents free radicals from infesting your skin.
Where to get more of it in your diet: varieties of green tea in either loose leaf or packet formula.
This antioxidant is also known as vitamin B3. Vitamin B3 is a boss in terms of its anti-inflammatory properties. Want brighter and softer skin? Vitamin B3 is what you need.
Where to get more of it in your diet: turkey, chicken, peanuts, mushrooms, tuna, and green peas.
The anti-aging benefits of grape seed come from its relation to the flavonoid family. Proanthocyanidins are aplenty in grape seed, and they’re strong fighters against free radicals. Studies and research suggest grape seed extract is even stronger than vitamins C and E in fighting free radicals.
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Where to get more of it in your diet: grape seed extract is available in supplement form
Beta-carotene and carotenoids are known for their skin-boosting properties. Lycopene is a carotenoid prevalent in red vegetables and fruits, like red peppers, strawberries, etc. You get the drift.
Lycopene promotes healthy collagen production, which means it improves the texture of your skin. Although you can reap the benefits of this carotenoid through oral ingestion, it’s super easy for your skin to absorb. Don’t hesitate to try a skincare formula with lycopene in it!
Where to get more of it in your diet: tomatoes, watermelon, pink grapefruit, guava, sweet red peppers, asparagus, and carrots.
This antioxidant compound is fantastic when applied topically. You’ll find it in a whole host of different skincare products, from serums to creams and even certain types of foundation. One of its impressive benefits is that resveratrol can prevent oxidative stress from UV radiation.
Where to get more of it in your diet: peanuts, pistachios, red and white wine, cranberries, blueberries, and dark chocolate. (Talk about a reason to have wine and chocolate!)
What are your favorite ways to increase antioxidants in your skincare routine or diet?