The Role of Topical Antioxidants in Skin Care
Do you dream of smooth, healthy skin – the kind of skin you may have had when you were in your teens? What happened to that smooth, healthy skin? In youth, our skin has an ample supply of antioxidants that naturally protect our skin from the environment, especially sun damage. As we age, our skin loses it’s ability to produce these antioxidants. This is due to sun damage, aging, menopause, and disease, just to name a few.When we lose our ability to produce those antioxidants free radicals become our enemy. Free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with at least one unpaired electron. In the body, it’s usually an oxygen molecule that has lost an electron and needs to stabilize itself by stealing an electron from a nearby molecule. Whatever a free radical steals from becomes damaged, which is called oxidation. Once a molecule is oxidized by the free radical, it often starts a chain reaction of oxidation until an antioxidant stops it. A very simplified version is that the antioxidants give the free radicals what they need to stabilize and stops them from trying to steal electrons from other molecules, thereby stopping the chain reaction affecting your skin.
Antioxidants are vitamins, minerals and enzymes that can help to prevent and repair damage to your body’s tissue. We all know that fruit and vegetables are high in antioxidants. Everyone should eat a rainbow of colors every day to keep free radicals in check, helping to prevent all kinds of diseases, ranging from arthritis to cancer. When it comes to your skin however, only a small percentage of antioxidants found in food will help. The internal organs of the body use antioxidants obtained by food up first. In addition, our epidermis (the outer layer of the skin) has no blood supply to carry the antioxidants. Because the epidermis has the most exposure to UV rays and pollution, we need to protect it with topical antioxidants. Topical antioxidants will penetrate your skin and reduce the impact of free radicals.
I always recommend that everyone apply a topical Vitamin A, C and E each day. These are the most proven, most researched topical ingredients for aging skin. They are antioxidants that protect the cells from free radicals, and Vitamins A and C help the body to repair itself and encourage cell and tissue growth.
While A, C and E are great antioxidants, there are many others out there that have been proven effective in reducing free radical damage. Just like striving to eat a rainbow of colors each day, you should apply a variety of antioxidants to your skin. There are many antioxidants used in skin care, including grapeseed extract, reservatrol, green tea, alpha lipoic acid, Idebenone and caffeine, to name a few.
Research shows that by adding topical antioxidants to your daily skin care regimen you can improve cell function, increase collagen production, improve elasticity, create healthier, younger skin cells, and reduce sun damage. However, don’t expect this to happen overnight, it will take time. You may see some immediate improvement, but it takes months to see long-term changes in your skin. Follow the guidance of a skin care provider that you trust, and your home skin care routine will give you the immediate benefit of preventing further damage, along with the long-term benefit of correcting past damage. By adding the correct topical antioxidants to your skin care program, within six months you should see a positive change in the look and feel of your skin.
By: Mary Hayse, Licensed Esthetician