How Antioxidants Work In Skincare?

If you think about your bathroom right now, how many skincare products on your shelf will contain some type of antioxidant? If you don’t actively look for a cream with an antioxidant benefit, chances are you at least use a vitamin C serum or a targeted treatment containing vitamin C. The skincare conversation around antioxidants has been all the rage for quite some time, with good merit. The problem is that we sometimes buy into new skincare trends without completely understanding how they work or what their benefits are. Since I believe antioxidants are way too important to save under the “they-say-its-good-so-I’ll-buy-it” category, I dedicate this post to understanding the benefits of antioxidants in our skincare.

FIGGI Beauty Sensi-Soul Regimen for Dry and Sensitive Skin

Antioxidants are a universal name for ingredients that can fight skin deterioration. In addition to removing the first signs of aging in the form of wrinkles, age spots, and some types of inflammation, antioxidants also significantly boost and support the skin’s natural ability to renew itself. This is true because antioxidants help increase the skin’s ability to produce collagen and elastin, two essential building substances in the skin that affect its flexibility and mobility.
If it’s so great, what exactly does it do, and how does it work?

Here, it’s time to write your first, mouthwatering paragraph. Whether it’s a cookie or a tart, every enticing recipe post starts with a good origin story. Describe how you came up with this recipe, what inspired you, what your family or friends liked most about it, etc. Hook readers in and show off your personality by being open and honest, or even funny! Include a number of undeniably tempting pictures under your first paragraph to get your reader enthusiastic.


What Do Antioxidants do?

This “latching’ process is a lot for your skin to handle, and if your skin becomes overpowered by these alien invaders, it can cause oxidative stress.

Free radicals are the main “baddies” that cause our skin’s overall deterioration. Think accelerated aging, pigmentation, and inflammatory conditions like acne or eczema. These meanies can also cause cancer. You may have seen these words in a slew of skincare marketing brochures or in the description of your facial creams. Often creams or serums will explain that the formulation helps to fight free radicals and although this sounds awesome, what does it mean?

This is a little technical, but free radicals are highly reactive, unstable molecules that do not have electrons in their outer shell. Free radicals then seek out atoms and molecules that have these missing electrons and try to bond with them to make themselves stable and whole. Unfortunately, your skin provides them with what they need to make them whole. This “latching’ process is a lot for your skin to handle, and if your skin becomes overpowered by these alien invaders, it can cause oxidative stress.

What is oxidative stress, you may ask? Well, in short, it’s not a good thing. It’s when there is an imbalance between the bad girls (free radicals) and the good girls (antioxidants) in the skin. It’s important to note that the skin naturally protects the balance between free radicals and antioxidants. Still, this balance can be disturbed if the skin becomes overwhelmed by external influences like our environment and the natural aging process leading to oxidative stress. The damage manifests as premature aging, dullness, pigmentation, etc.

Enter our superheroines: Antioxidants. They work by binding to free radicals and preventing them from binding to our healthy cells. So they trick the free radicals into binding to them instead of the goodies in your skin. That is why they are also called free radical scavengers. Through this clever trickery, they help slow down oxidation, preventing oxidative stress and, in turn, protecting your beautiful cells from premature aging and damage.


Where Do Free Radicals Come From?

Next, you may be wondering where these little rascals come from? If we understand where free radicals come from, can’t we just avoid them and be done with them? Unfortunately, they are baddies that occur in many places and ways. Trying to avoid interaction with them is futile. They can be anywhere. Our body even produces them as a by-product of metabolism and as part of the natural aging process. However, free radicals often stem from air pollution (hello city life), sunlight (UV radiation), smoking, alcohol, pesticides, and poor nutrition.

What am I saying? If you’re willing to move to a rural space with no pollution, never go out in the sun, never indulge in a cocktail hour again, eat only good food, and avoid any pesticides in foods or other sources, you are golden. However, this list describes our daily lives and interactions with the world. So to help us out, our antioxidant friends are there to lead the way.


Environmental Stressors.

Environmental stressors contribute to the presence of antioxidants in the skin’s surface layers as it works to naturally protect us.

If you’ve seen the referral to free radicals or free radical scavengers in your skincare, you probably have also seen “free radical damage caused by environmental stressors.” This little caption seems to often be part and parcel of the antioxidant skincare sale. It basically refers to ordinary things in our everyday lives that we cannot avoid and that lead to oxidative stress, which, we have now established, is not a good look for your skin.

“Environmental stressors” refer specifically to free radical damage caused by our environments, like air pollution, UV radiation, dust, and dry air. These stressors also contribute to the presence of antioxidants in the skin’s surface layers as it works to naturally protect us. However, some magic only lasts this midnight, and over time, antioxidants become depleted and lose their protective effect on the skin. Therefore, replenishing the skin with topical antioxidants can help compensate for this loss and combat oxidative stress.


Can Antioxidants Improve The Efficacy of Your Sunscreen?

Before starting this paragraph, I want to clarify one thing: There is no substitute for good sun protection, and antioxidants should never be seen as an alternative to sunscreen or a replacement for sunscreen. Okay, now that’s out of my system; on to what antioxidants can do for your suncare regimen 😊.

The primary villain of sunlight is its harmful ultraviolet radiation which causes damage to our skin. This damage can present as dryness, burning, sun spots, pigmentation, and even skin cancer. I know this is not true of FIGGI Goddesses, but many people do not use sun protection daily. Those who do (gold star, please 😊) often do not use enough. Even if we use the best sunscreen, it does not block 100% of harmful ultraviolet rays. An SPF 50+, for example, only blocks 98% of UV rays. Add to this our inadequate application of sunscreen and UV radiation has the opening it needs to penetrate the skin and cause free radical damage.

Now to be clear again: This in no way means that sunscreens are ineffective. Using any sunscreen is better than using none at all. It just means that it is not as effective as it can be because we use it incorrectly and, therefore, don’t enjoy all the benefits. So what can we do? Call in a favor from our good friends: Antioxidants.

Antioxidants can help offset the shortcomings of sunscreen by neutralizing free radical damage caused by sun exposure. They play a defensive role by dispersing the effects of rays passing through sunscreen. Also, many antioxidants stabilize the sunscreen formulation while increasing its effectiveness. Therefore, the perfect second line of defense from the sun.


What are the best antioxidants to use for skin care?

Next, we want to know the best antioxidants for our skincare. If you are familiar with FIGGI, you know about my love for Rooibos. All FIGGI skincare products are lovingly made with Green Rooibos Extract, and I consume many cups of this beautiful Red Tea a day. Rooibos is, by far, my most trusted and favorite antioxidant. It is a very rare baby with an entirely unique composition unlike any other plant, herb, or extract. Please make sure to listen to our My FIGGI Life Podcast episode, where we discuss the scientifically proven benefits of Rooibos with Dr. Mariska Lilly, a top Rooibos expert. You can also read our blog post on Rooibos and why it is a skin and health superstar. However, there are many other good antioxidant ingredients in skincare you can look out for. You know, when you’re FIGGI stock is running low 😊. Here are some of my favorites.

  • Vitamin C. This is the most famous antioxidant recognized by most consumers. Many of us probably use skincare that already contains vitamin C. It works by granting added protection from the harmful effects of UV radiation and can prevent photoaging and photo-carcinogenesis. It also has an anti-aging effect by increasing collagen production, stabilizing collagen fibers, and reducing collagen degradation in the skin. It also reduces the formation of melanin which can cause pigmentation. The downside of vitamin C is that it is crazy unstable. You have to make sure you use a product formulated correctly to ensure the continued efficacy of vitamin C and that you are using the correct form of vitamin C that will actually be absorbed by the skin.
  • Vitamin E also has some solid antioxidant properties. It is used in many skincare products for a variety of skin concerns. If you check the ingredients on your skincare product, you will find at least one product containing vitamin E. It often appears in anti-aging skincare treatments.
  • Ubiquinone (coenzyme Q10) is a crucial antioxidant for producing cellular energy, which literally powers our cells. This cell power naturally decreases with age and exposure to everyday stress factors. Q10 can penetrate the skin, be metabolically transformed, and exert antioxidant effects. This process supports the maintenance of cellular energy levels. Overall, a real goodie people of all ages can benefit from.
  • Vitamin A and its derivatives are among the most effective antioxidants in slowing aging. Retinoids regulate cell apoptosis, differentiation, and proliferation. The anti-wrinkle properties of retinoids strengthen the protective function of the epidermis, preventing trans-epidermal water loss, and protecting collagen from degradation.
  • Resveratrol is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. It soothes the skin, reduces aging, and protects it from infections.
  • Ferulic Acid is a compound that has proven antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities. It tends to associate with other vitamins and active substances. The synergistic effect ensures a better result.


The Take-Away?

No matter how we live, we will inevitably be exposed to free radicals. A skincare routine that offers protection and a sound defense system can be a game changer. This defensive line of defense we discussed in this post is related to the benefits of antioxidants. I hope this post helped you understand our little antioxidant friend better. Happy skin journeys, my FIGGI Goddess!

Love and light


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Post Sources:

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