Before we discuss the benefits of antioxidants, let’s first think of what happens to our bodies on any given day; we’re exposed to many elements such as sunlight, air pollution, internal stress, unbalanced diet and the list goes on and on. All of these factors promote the formation of free radicals within our bodies.(1) Luckily, antioxidants play a role in protecting our skin from these daily aggressors.(2)
Antioxidants are important molecules in cells that play a vital role in the cellular processes of our body and skin.(3) We usually hear of antioxidants being in fruits and vegetables such as blueberries, kale, broccoli and pumpkin. These are all great sources of oral antioxidants, but did you know that topical antioxidants are a valuable addition to your skincare routine?(4)
That’s right, antioxidants have great skin benefits and I can’t wait to share them with you!
What are free radicals?
Before we can talk about antioxidants, we must first understand free radicals.
A free radical is an unstable molecule that only has one free electron instead of a pair of electrons required to make it stable and un-reactive. The unstable molecule goes searching for nearby molecules to steal an electron from. This causes a chain reaction that results in an increasing number of free radicals that lead to oxidative stress.(3)
There’s a very popular and simple way to explain the result of free radicals. Here it is:
When you cut into an apple and let it sit out for a short amount of time it begins to brown. This reaction is the apple oxidizing, which is caused by free radicals.(5)
Although our skin doesn’t brown like an apple, we can relate this to the appearance of dark spots (hyperpigmentation), fine lines and uneven texture.
What begins as a single free radical from sun exposure or other external factors has the ability to cause long term effects such as damage to cells, proteins and DNA.(3)
To help combat this, we can apply antioxidant-rich skincare products topically. This adds a protective layer to the skin that helps defend against sun damage and other environmental stressors.
What are antioxidants?
As the name suggests, antioxidants help fight against oxidation. They do this by neutralizing free radicals. Antioxidants are able to give an electron to an unstable molecule without destabilizing themselves.(3) By supplying the free radicals with an extra electron, this puts a halt to the free radical chain reaction.
Antioxidants are naturally produced in the body, but not in sufficient amounts to counteract the damage from all the daily aggressors.(3) Therefore, on top of eating plenty of antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, we can add them to our skincare routine!
Applying antioxidant-rich skincare products, along with your favourite non-nano, reef-safe sunscreen, in the morning before exposure to sunlight will give your skin great protection against the unwanted skin concerns caused by free radical damage.
Adding antioxidants to your skincare routine
Antioxidants have become popular ingredients in toners, serums and moisturizers. Some of the most common sources of antioxidants are Vitamin C, E, A and other plant-derived ingredients.(4) At Graydon Skincare, we take pride in formulating our products with plant-powered and results-driven ingredients that include antioxidant properties.
Let’s break down some of the most common and potent antioxidant sources.
Vitamin C, also known as L-ascorbic acid, is one of the most recognized antioxidants.
Our skin naturally contains a high concentration of Vitamin C, which provides antioxidant protection against sun damage from UV exposure and stimulates the synthesis of collagen.(6) These are very important processes in keeping our skin looking and feeling its best.
In addition to getting vitamin C from eating citrus fruits and green leafy vegetables, we can also apply it topically to see the benefits of protection against UV-damage and collagen breakdown. (7)
Now, when it comes to the stability and absorption of vitamin C, things get a little tricky. Natural vitamin C is the most effective, but it is also unstable and degrades when exposed to air and light. On the other hand, synthetic vitamin C is more stable but doesn’t absorb into the skin as effectively as natural vitamin C.(6)
Studies suggest that vitamin C with a pH level below 4.0 offer maximum absorption;(6) however, because this pH level is lower than our skin’s natural pH level, irritation can occur.
At Graydon Skincare, our Fullmoon Serum contains a botanical source of vitamin C from moringa oleifera that does not require a low pH to be stable, which is great news for those with sensitive skin. The dried and fresh leaves of moringa oleifera contain a high concentration of Vitamin C and provide powerful antioxidant benefits to protect the skin from premature signs of aging caused by free radical damage.
Another way to stabilize vitamin C is to combine it with other antioxidants such as vitamin E.(6)
Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, has been a skincare staple for decades thanks to its powerful antioxidant properties that help protect the skin from UV-induced free radical damage.(8) It’s believed that oral intake of vitamin E is not enough to provide noticeable benefits to the skin.(8) As such, incorporating skincare products that contain vitamin E are an essential part of protecting your skin from free radicals.
Find vitamin E in our Moon Boost Serum, Aloe Milk Cleanser, Skin Stuff Face + Eye Cream, Putty, Intimacy Oil and Matcha Mint Hair Smoothie. That’s right, we’ve got your vitamin E needs covered from head to toe!
As I mentioned, vitamin E and vitamin C work synergistically. Moon Boost Serum is formulated with both vitamins C and E so you can reap all the benefits with one easy to use product. You can also try combining a few drops of Fullmoon Serum and a pump of Skin Stuff to create a vitamin C and E Skin Smoothie! By adding these vitamins to your morning skincare routine, you help protect your skin from environmental stressors.
Click here to learn more about how vitamins C and E work together to benefit your skin.
You may be more familiar with the ingredient retinol, which is a derivative of vitamin A.
In addition to its antioxidant benefits, retinol is famous for its ability to accelerate cell turnover and stimulate collagen production, leading to visibly reduced signs of aging.(9) Sounds great, right?
The problem is, most retinols are synthetic, break down when exposed to UV rays and can cause irritation.
Luckily, there are great botanical alternatives that offer the same benefits as conventional retinol, without the side effects. Two great options are bakuchiol and moth bean, which we use in Phyto Clear and Fullmoon Serum.
But that’s not all, we also formulated Skin Stuff Face + Eye Cream with vitamin A from rosehip seed oil and Moon Boost Serum contains vitamin A from carrot seed oil.
When we think of the life of a plant, there is no way for them to avoid the sun and everyday elements they experience each day.(10) Plants must synthesize their own defence mechanisms to help soak up damage from the sun and other aggressors. Basically, they have to create their own antioxidant systems to stay healthy. So it makes sense that great antioxidant and sun protection benefits come from plant-powered sources!
- Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause damage to our cells.
- Each day, our skin is exposed to environmental stressors that promote the formation of free radicals
- Antioxidants are molecules that donate an electron to free radicals without destabilizing themselves
- Eat your fruits and veggies! They’re full of antioxidants to feed your skin from the inside out.
- Add products with vitamins C, E, A and other plant sources to your skincare routine for an extra boost of skin-defending antioxidants.
Wishing you good skin days, every day!
Ceramides are lipids that play an important role in skin barrier function. Click here to discover the benefits of adding ceramides to your skincare routine.