Antioxidants and Skincare
Increasingly, modern skincare products are formulated with potent active ingredients to work magic on your complexion. Antioxidants are nature’s magic bullets. But why?
Antioxidants protect our bodies against the chemical reaction responsible for the free radicals that are one of the key mechanisms in ageing. Free radicals are by-products of normal cell activity but they also occur as a result of exposure to pollutants and sunlight. They are extremely destructive, damaging cell structures and contributing to degenerative illnesses such as heart and liver disease and cancer.
Antioxidants can break the chain reactions triggered by the production of free radicals. The good news is that they are freely available because most beneficial antioxidants occur in foods we eat. These include Vitamins A, C and E, carotenoids such as beta-carotene, some minerals, phenolic compounds and other naturally occurring chemicals with antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are being included in skincare products, but there are a number of factors that influence their effectiveness in topical form. These include the chemical makeup of the antioxidant, what it is combined with and how it is delivered in the product formulation.
The most common antioxidants in skincare products are:
CoQ-10 (coenzyme Q-10)
Alpha lipoic acid
What antioxidants do
Vitamin C increases collagen production in the skin. It has powerful antioxidant and healing properties, and reduces fine lines and wrinkles while minimising scars.
Copper peptides have firming and healing properties and help to enhance the skin’s protective ability, stimulate collagen formation, improve the skin’s elasticity and promote elastin production.
A spin trap is described as an intelligent antioxidant that can turn skin-damaging free radical activity into productive regenerating activity. Touted as the next generation of anti-ageing treatments, look out for this ingredient in new products.
Vitamin A helps smooth both wrinkles and fine lines, while increasing skin hydration and collagen production. It smooths skin texture, at the same time as increasing skin thickness and improving its elasticity. Vitamin A also improves acne, natural exfoliation and overall skin tone, diminishing mottled pigmentation.
Coenzyme Q-10 repairs sun damaged skin, energises new cell growth and possesses firming properties.
Green tea helps reduce puffiness and large pores, diminishes fine lines and wrinkles, and aids healing by decreasing inflammation.
Alpha lipoic acid is said to improve sun-damaged skin, provides protection to the skin, diminishes fine lines, wrinkles and pore size, and improves skin tone. It is often included as an active ingredient in many combination moisturising products.
Vitamin E clinically improves the skin’s moisture content and protection properties, and also helps with smoothing and healing.
Taking vitamins – this goes with that
Before you use them all as a shopping list for your new and improved skincare regime, you need to be aware of some further factors. For example, copper peptides can’t be used with Vitamin C products because they neutralise each other. Vitamin A can come in several forms, tretinoin, retinol and retinyl palmitate, of which tretinoin is most powerful and potentially irritating to sensitive skin. A Vitamin E product needs to contain high-potency Vitamin E before it is likely to have a beneficial effect, and green tea also needs to be at a high concentration to be effective. Vitamin C can only be absorbed by the skin in the form of L-ascorbic acid at 5 percent concentration or its ester, ascorbyl palmitate.
Another factor to consider is whether the antioxidant is water or oil soluble and how this works with the product formulation. Vitamin C is water soluble but its action is enhanced by Vitamins A and E, which are both oil soluble.
Read the label
When purchasing a skincare product that contains antioxidants, be sure to read the fine print on the label to check the percentage of active ingredients, their form and whether the product formulation enables their penetration into the skin. Don’t be afraid to layer products, such as serum under moisturiser, especially if positive synergies are indicated. In this way you can create your own skincare alchemy for healthier, more beautiful skin.
Modern skincare products are formulated with potent active ingredients including antoxidants to work magic on your complexion.