Our guest this month is Constante Quirino – a freelance writer who has worked with a number of brands, including Ayr Skin Care. As an advocate for clean, healthy and balanced lifestyles, he writes about developments in health and wellness, along with natural skincare and beauty products.
Today we’re going to learn about antioxidants and we’ll get a few very useful tips on how to look after our skin to keep it fresh, young and healthy for longer.
Why Are Antioxidants So Good For Your Skin?
When you hear the word “antioxidant,” it sounds like something negative. If I use antioxidants, won’t I run out of oxidants? The reality is that oxidation in your body refers to a chemical process that causes damage, like an apple turning brown or a bicycle rusting in the weather.
Oxidation and Free Radicals
Oxidation is a natural process that happens in your body all the time, but certain factors like smoking, pollution, sun damage, and specific foods (particularly highly-processed oils) can speed up the process and cause highly unstable “free radical” molecules to be released.
These free radicals then cause inflammation, break down collagen in the skin, and accelerate aging. Free radical damage and oxidative stress to the cells are suspected to contribute to heart disease and cancer, as well as a host of other diseases and conditions.
You don’t particularly want your skin or other organs to rust out like weathered metal too soon!
What Are Antioxidants?
Antioxidants, in contrast, have the opposite effect of free radicals. Antioxidants are good chemical compounds found in a variety of foods that reduce inflammation, rebuild collagen, and improve the appearance of sun spots (“age spots”) and wrinkles. Some antioxidants are vitamins, like vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E. Others are minerals like selenium and manganese. And some are a product of plant compounds, like beta-carotene and lycopene.
Where Are They Found?
You can find the full range of antioxidant compounds in your food by eating all the colors of the rainbow. As a group, deeply-colored fruits and vegetables (of any color) contain the various types of antioxidants. You can also find them in green tea, dark chocolate, and red wine (enjoy in moderation!).
Many skin care companies are taking advantage of antioxidant-rich active ingredients in their products to heal and soothe the skin from the outside. For best results, combine antioxidant-containing skin care products with a diet that’s rich in fruits and vegetables—not forgetting the dark chocolate and red wine, of course!
What Are The Skin Benefits of Antioxidants?
Now that you know what antioxidants are, why they are important, and where to find them, let’s look at some of the main benefits of using antioxidants in skin care.
Collagen Production for Firmer Skin
Collagen is the substance in your skin that keeps it firm and elastic. You can think of collagen like a net or mesh, and when this mesh becomes stretched and damaged the skin starts to sag because nothing is holding it together.
Antioxidants in skin care boost collagen production and repair, helping your skin look more youthful. Coenzyme Q-10, or CoQ-10, is an antioxidant compound that is often used in eye creams to rejuvenate and tone the skin.
Minimize the Appearance of Wrinkles
While it’s only a myth that you can make wrinkles disappear completely, regular use of antioxidants like vitamins A and C in your skin care routine can plump out and revive the skin to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. You’ll also find that as the collagen in your skin heals, the increased elasticity and tightening should help to make wrinkles and lines become less pronounced.
Reduce Age Spots
Age spots are the result of sun exposure over time increasing the melanin pigment in the skin. When the darker skin cells clump together, this results in spots that are known as age spots.
Antioxidants, especially vitamin C, have been shown to lighten the pigmentation of affected areas of skin so that age spots are less obvious. Remember the days of applying lemon juice to the skin to keep it light in color? Although you can’t change your natural skin color, we now know there is some truth to this homespun beauty treatment. The secret is vitamin C!
Revive Sun-Weathered Skin and Heal Scarring
Age spots aren’t the only result of sun exposure over time. When your skin cells receive too much sun and become damaged, this can also make the skin dry and leathery—not ideal when you’re hoping to have beautiful, youthful skin!
What antioxidants in skin care do to help is that they increase blood flow and cell turnover, meaning that the skin is being healed and renewed as it becomes softer and more youthful. The same effect is useful for healing scars and reducing their appearance. The more blood flow there is to the skin cells, the more quickly they will heal.
Great for Blemishes
Many of us have suffered from blemishes or acne at one time or another, even when we’re older, and some of us have more naturally oily skin, making acne prevention a constant challenge.
The antioxidant vitamin A (also known as retinol) is a powerful tool in your skin care kit, as it opens and clears clogged pores, removing the keratin plugs that cause papules and blackheads. The increased circulation in the cells assists with regulating the quantity of oil in the skin to achieve a more healthy balance of moisture.
Finally, antioxidants in general act to reduce inflammation—both a cause and result of breakouts in the skin. So not only will antioxidants make your skin clearer and balance out oil production, but it will also soothe the irritation, breaking the cycle of breakouts.
Getting the Best Results with Antioxidants for Skin Care
As mentioned earlier, you’ll get the best results when you apply antioxidants to the skin externally as well as including them in your diet. Combining different types and sources of antioxidants helps them to work synergistically and have even greater effects.
To maintain the potency of the antioxidants in your skin care products, keep the creams and lotions in opaque, airtight containers, and store them out of direct sunlight. Both sun and air will reduce their effectiveness, so make sure you store the products with care and check that new tubes come with the seal intact.
The other main way to maximize the effects of antioxidants for your skin is to protect yourself from unnecessary damage in the first place. Use sun protection, breathe fresh, smoke-free air, and eat whole foods rather than heavily processed ones. Then you’ll be on your way to youthful, glowing skin!
Thank you, Constante, for sharing your knowledge with us.
Constante is a freelance writer, and has worked with a number of brands, including Ayr Skin Care. As an advocate for clean, healthy and balanced lifestyles, he writes about developments in health and wellness, along with natural skincare and beauty products.