Skincare 101: Antioxidants

I started the year with an overview about the importance of SPF, which is the most important skincare protection you can get. A great supplement to that is antioxidant. Food with antioxidants can help to strength the skin, fight free radicals and give you better health. When applied topically, it can help protect against environmental stress/pollution and sun damage. This post is a brief overview of antioxidants in terms of skincare. A lot of skincare products have antioxidants in them, and every other product descriptions I’ve read highlights them. But what are they exactly? and how to get the maximum benefit?


How do you identify them? Vitamin A, C and E are the most popular antioxidants, but there are plenty of other antioxidants and whole skincare lines based around them. Caudalie get their antioxidants from grape extracts. Innisfree get it from green tea extract, Origins from white tea and Fresh from black tea. Another antioxidant that is quickly gaining popularity is algae extracts, which is the basis of Algenist products. If a skincare product contains some type of fruit or vegetable, most likely it’s for their antioxidants. For more details of ingredients that contain anti-oxidants, check out this, this and this.

What antioxidant is the best? Because different antioxidants target different free radicals, products with a blend of antioxidants will give you maximum benefits. Antioxidants in serum or gel formula are most stable, and a dark bottle helps to preserve the potency. If the color, scent or color changed, it means the antioxidants have oxidized and are no longer effective.

Antioxidants are great supplement to sunscreens! Well, retinol (vitamin A) and acid peels can cause sun sensitivity so they should be applied at night, but all other antioxidants are great for morning as well! Because they combat sun damage/oxidation of the cell, they give you an extra boost of sun protection when used under sunscreen. They are NOT substitute for proper sunscreen, but if you are allergic to sunscreen then it’s better than nothing.

Personal experience: Because it’s more of a preventive measure, you don’t notice the effect most of the time. I live in a rural area with pretty clean air so I didn’t realize how much it’s doing for my skin until I spent a summer in downtown Philadelphia. Oh the pollution! After a day of walking around downtown, I feel like even my eyeballs have a film of dust/pollution. Eventhough I dilligently wash my face every night as usual, my skin feels dirty and clogged and just not good. My skin finally went back to normal after I start using my favorite vitamin c serum, Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, day and night. It no longer feels clogged/irritated.


Recommendations: If you like vitamin C, Ole Henriksen Truth Serum and Perricone MD Vitamin C Ester Serum are both great and appropriate for all skin types. I haven’t tried them but I’ve also heard plenty of great things about SkinCeutical C E Ferulic serum and Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, both on my to-try list. If you are allergic to vitamin C or prefer tea instead, I love Innisfree Green Tea serum and am also a fan of Fresh Black Tea Toner. Caudalie get their antioxidants from resveratrol in grapes. I’ve only tried the Vinoperfect Radiance Serum and feels it’s more appropriate for dry skin while other recommendations here are appropriate for all skin types. So that’s all my favorite, what is your favorite skincare with antioxidants?



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