BAZAAR’s Skincare Beginner’s Guide To Antioxidants

Everything you need to know about antioxidants and how they fight free radicals

Antioxidants

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Why Do We Need Antioxidants In Our Skincare?

Beyond skin deep, we need antioxidants all over our body. If you’ve placed any importance on eating decently at all, you’ll know how crucial it is to have antioxidants in your diet. Also known as superfoods, antioxidants, when ingested, help calm cellular inflammation all over our body so that everything works the way they’re supposed to, i.e. ensuring cardiovascular health and effective neural connections. And while our body is able to protect and defend itself against inflammation, a variety of factors can work against us, including elevated stress levels, unhealthy lifestyle and even chronological ageing.

The same goes for our skin. While our skin cells is able to produce enough antioxidants to fend off free radical damage from sources like pollution and UV when we’re young, we lose this ability with age. Which explains why we start seeing age spots, fine lines and wrinkles, as well as a loss of elasticity. As a result, beauty companies are on a never-ending quest to produce effective antioxidants salves and potions, one claiming to be more effective than the other. And most importantly, antioxidants can be used by anyone at any age with any skin concerns and skin type.

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How Exactly Do They Work?

As the name suggests, antioxidants are compounds that fight against oxidation. And the culprit for causing oxidation is a class of molecules called free radicals.  And according to Dr Tan Wan Theng, Medical Director at Moyem Medical Aesthetics, “free radicals are dangerous to our tissues because each one is missing an electron, causing them to go on a rampant search-and-destroy mission throughout the skin layers to make themselves whole again”. And that’s not all, this process sets off a chain reaction, resulting in collagen degradation, accelerated melanin synthesis and a weakened skin barrier.

Previously, most of the products that were formulated with antioxidants revolved around playing a supplementary role to sunscreens in negating the hazardous effects of UVA and UVB rays. For example, SkinCeuticals scientists have long advocated the use of both sunscreen and antioxidants for a comprehensive skincare regime. Gradually, antioxidant products evolved to also help shield skin from infrared radiation as well as environmental pollutants like particulate matter in air pollution. The latest source of free radicals that is proving to be a problem for our generation of smartphone users? Blue light (also known as High Energy Visible light, or HEV light) that’s emitted from electronic devices such as smartphones, tablets and laptops.

“This is where antioxidants come in: They sacrifice in our stead, donate the electrons which neutralise free radicals, so skin stays healthy, firm, even and smooth for longer,” adds Dr Tan. She also explains that “with increased awareness of the importance of effective urban protection against multiple elements in our environment, more formulations are using not just one, but a combination of powerful antioxidants for wider and more potent protection. As the saying goes, there’s strength in numbers. This is certainly the case for antioxidants.”

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So What Are Some Examples Of Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are literally everywhere, and some of the most commonly found ones include vitamin C, vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, lycopene, resveratrol, just to name a few.

What Affects Their Potency? 

Antioxidants are highly reactive substances so they have to be formulated in a stable form in order to be potent and effective when applied on the skin. This explains why many antioxidant serums and creams are stored in glass and opaque containers.

What Other Ingredients Can You Pair Antioxidants With?

As mentioned previously, antioxidants work in synergy with each other. This is because there are a wide spectrum of free radicals that could potentially wreak havoc on your skin, so a product with one or two antioxidants will only be effective in combating certain free radicals in that spectrum. Which explains why most products are formulated with multiple antioxidants at varying concentrations to ensure maximum efficacy.

Now that you know how important antioxidants are, here are some antioxidants-rich products that can help fend off environmental damage for healthier skin.

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