We hear so much about antioxidants, but perhaps some of us don't fully understand how they work and how they can help us.
Read on for a full and complete explanation of what antioxidants are, how they help the skin, how they help our bodies, and what free radicals are.
Medical studies show that antioxidants can repair damaged skin and protect skin from further damage, which is great news for those of us who did not think about sunscreen or environmental factors, but how do they do this?
WHAT ARE ANTIOXIDANTS
Antioxidants are substances that stop oxidation and the deterioration of cells in the skin and inside the body. In other words, they stop free radicals from damaging more cells.
If you are eating fruits and vegetables and foods with antioxidants, and applying healthy products that contain antioxidants, then you are helping prevent further cell damage externally and internally. It sounds like magic, but it's really very simple and easy to do, with the right choices.
Antioxidants are absorbed into the skin, and basically stand guard against free radicals that want to seek out healthy cells and break them down. They also can enter the skin and repair the damaged cells that are already there.
WHAT ARE FREE RADICALS
Free radicals are unstable atoms that can damage cells, which in turn cause illness and aging, and are linked to a number of diseases. Our bodies are under continuous attack by free radicals, extremely reactive molecules produced by our environment and our the damaged cells in our bodies. They will feed on healthy atoms, damaging them, and causes what is known as oxidative stress.
Free radical damage to skin can cause wrinkles, loss of tone, hyper pigmentation, aging, and skin cancer. On the inside, free radical damage can cause cancer, degenerative diseases, and inflammatory illnesses as well as the aging process itself.
HOW DO ANTIOXIDANTS HELP THE SKIN?
Our body has a natural defense mechanism to protect itself from the danger of free radical attack: antioxidants.
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals, or nutrients that stop free radicals before they can damage cells. Hundreds of antioxidants exist in the world, which is great news!
The skin is constantly exposed to free radicals produced by harmful pollutants in the environment and, most significantly, UV light. To maintain healthy, youthful skin we must ensure that our skin has enough antioxidants to adequately protect itself. We can deliver these antioxidants to our skin through diet, supplements, and topical products.
WHAT ARE SOME THINGS WE DO EVERY DAY OR EXPOSE OURSELVES TO, THAT CAN HARM US?
Exposure to pollution, smoke, alcohol, heavy metals, pesticides, and certain drugs can cause our bodies to not be able to fight free radicals very well. These things leave us open to the damage and effects of free radicals and the havoc they cause to our bodies, brain, and skin.
When we smoke, or drink or eat unhealthy processed foods, we create a fight in our bodies, that can lead to things like arthritis, Parkinson's, cancer, etc. You can see signs of the inflammation that free radicals can cause, like sore joints, swollen hands or feet, pain in certain areas of our bodies. This is clear indication that you should try to make some healthy changes to decrease inflammation and free radical damage.
HOW TO BENEFIT FROM ANTIOXIDANTS
For our overall health, we need a healthy diet and supplements, but for the health of our skin, internal nourishment is not enough: topical antioxidants are essential. Internal supplementation improves the levels of antioxidants in skin cells, but research now shows that topical application delivers these important nutrients to the skin much more quickly.
Countless studies demonstrate that topical antioxidants protect skin from UV damage, reduce inflammation, reduce changes in skin color, and protect against certain types of cancer.
These topical antioxidants, as well as others, will protect your skin and optimize skin health, but choose topical products carefully. Look for products that have meaningful concentrations of these important antioxidants, and also avoid products that contain potentially harmful ingredients such as petrolatum, sulfates, and parabens.
Topical formulations contain many different antioxidants: choose a combination for your skin. Some are stronger than others and many offer additional health benefits beyond fighting free radicals. See our solid list below of antioxidants that you want to include in your skin care plan:
Ascorbic Acid: Also known as vitamin C, this nutrient is usually associated with the immune system is a dermatologist-favorite ingredient for your skin. Vitamin C is a strong antioxidant that binds and removes harmful free radicals from the skin, like those produced from exposure to ultraviolet radiation and environmental pollutants. All of these functions help prevent aging skin, including lightening brown spots, stimulating collagen, and protecting against UV damage. While we can score vitamin C from plenty of foods we eat, such as tomato and citrus, it boosts our skin best via topical application.
Coffee Berry: Although many other fruits contain antioxidants, the coffeeberry far exceeds other sources with more than three times the level of concentration found in green tea and blueberries. The polyphenols that are in coffeeberry neutralize free radicals in and on the skin before they can affix to skin cells and destroy them. These polyphenol anti-oxidants are believed to prevent cellular damage in skin and the coffeeberry is considered safe for sensitive skin types due to its natural properties. Research is currently being done on its healing and soothing properties and it is thought to protect against the sun’s UVA and UVB radiation
Curcumin: This polyphenol antioxidant is found in turmeric root, that same yellow-gold spice that’s so popular in Mediterranean food. Curcumin helps decrease inflammation, speeds up wound healing, prevents oily skin and acne, fights free radicals, and is photo-protective, anti-aging and anti-microbial, which is great for acne suffers. Medically it has been reported to assist those who suffer with dermatological conditions such as psoriasis and scleroderma through its potent anti-inflammatory actions.
Grape Seed: The antioxidants found in grapeseed oil can help to prevent and reverse pollution and UV-induced free radical damage to the skin, helping you achieve smoother, softer skin and leave you better protected against more serious issues too, such as skin cancer.
Green Tea: Green tea is a potent antioxidant when applied topically, and this benefit also applies to black and white tea as well. There are many impotant anti-aging benefits to using products made with green tea. The key compound in green tea that provides its antioxidant kick is epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG), which has a calming effect on the skin, making it a fantastic choice for soothing red skin.
Lycopene: Lycopene is present in fruits and vegetables to help prevent damage caused by light, and it's a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory that helps protect skin from environmental damage.
Niacinamide: Also known as vitamin B3, it is a powerful antioxidant found in many of the foods we eat. However, when it comes to skin benefits, dermatologists are all about applying it topically - directly to the skin. Studies have shown that topical application of niacinamide has many potential skin benefits, including improved skin hydration, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, decreased brown spots, improved skin redness, reduced blotchiness, and better skin elasticity,
Resveratrol: Applied topically, resveratrol can help protect skin's surface, rebuffing negative environmental impact and can brighten tired looking skin. It also has skin calming properties that may help minimize the look of redness.
Retinol: The same ingredients as vitamin A., and what makes tretinoin acid work effectively. Vitamin A has multiple functions, such as increasing healthy cellular turnover (exfoliating the skin and improving age spots), repairing cellular structure of the skin, decreasing sebum production, and encouraging formation of collagen in skin hence improving fine lines and wrinkles. It is often recommended to patients who have pre-cancers on their face to repair the skin and to prevent the formation of skin cancer.
Soy Isoflavones: Studies show that soy isoflavones can increase the thickness and suppleness of skin, as well as reduce the depth of wrinkles and reduce hyperpigmentation.
Tocopherol: Is the same ingredients as vitamin E, and has been shown to combat and repair sun damage. Scientific studies have demonstrated that vitamin E treatment can reduce UV-induced photo damage, decrease the risk of skin cancers, and stabilize the skin barrier. In addition to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E may also protect the skin by absorbing UV light, but it is rapidly depleted by UVB, which is dermatologists recommend using it in combination with other antioxidants. In particular, vitamin C has been shown to stabilize and help regenerate vitamin E, making the combination of the two vitamins especially effective in fighting UV damage.
SOME ANTIOXIDANT RICH SKIN CARE DIY RECIPES
ANTIOXIDANT TURMERIC HYDRATION FACE MASK
1 tablespoon unsweetened yogurt
1 tablespoon organic raw honey
½ teaspoon organic turmeric powder
Mix a fresh batch per use. Apply to clean, damp skin and allow to sit for 10-15 minutes. Rinse off and apply a moisturizer or your favorite facial oil.
ANTI AGING FACE AND BODY CREAM WITH ANTIOXIDANTS
2 T. almond oil
2 T. grape seed oil
2 T. coconut oil
2 T. beeswax
1 T. shea butter
½ teaspoon vitamin E oil
2 lycopene soft gels squeezed into mixture
1/8 t. oregano essential oil
1/8 t. rosemary essential oil
1/8 t. lemongrass essential oil
Place all ingredients in a glass jar or bowl. Bring a pot filled about 3-4 inches with water to a simmer. Put the jar without its lid in the pot, or set the bowl over the top of the pot. Stir occasionally. Once the mixture has melted and all is evenly combined, pour it into a small glass jar. Stir periodically as it hardens, and let sit at room temperature until is it completely cooled. Store in a cool place. Apply morning and night after cleansing your skin.