Antioxidants in Skincare - What Are They and How Do They Work?

Hi beauties,


You have probably heard about including antioxidants in your diet for better health. Antioxidants can help our body fight and delay cell damage. You get its health saving benefits by eating foods that are high in antioxidants like goji berries, red grapes, cranberries, peaches, papaya, tomatoes, and many more.

But do antioxidants belong to your skincare routine as well?

A bathtub of antioxidants - Lady in bathtub with citrus fruits


Free Radicals


Let me introduce you to what could be youthful skin’s archenemy: free radicals. Free radicals play an important role in our body by neutralizing viruses and bacteria. Our body produces free radicals specifically for this task.


But an overproduction of free radicals affects our DNA, lipids, and proteins triggering cell damage and disease. This is because free radicals are unstable and reactive by nature. When there are too many free radicals in our body, it causes oxidative stress making it difficult for the body to detoxify and prevent further harmful effects.


Many factors can trigger the production of free radicals. Sun exposure, pollution, smoking, and toxicity are some examples of it. Our skin is the largest organ of our body and it is made up of cells that can also be affected once free radicals take over. When cell damage occurs, our skin prematurely ages and it fails to restore and heal after being damaged.


Luckily, more and more studies have proven how antioxidants in skincare can be effective at combatting free radical damage and limiting oxidative stress.


Benefits of Antioxidants in Skincare


Oxidative stress damages our skin by hampering its natural healing process, triggering inflammation, and breaking down collagen.


One example of free radical damage is the healing process after we get sunburnt. When too many free radicals are running around, it becomes difficult for our skin to rejuvenate and reduce inflammation. In order to heal from sunburn, our skin needs a good number of healthy cells to work.


By including antioxidants in your skincare routine, you are able to fight the damaging effects of free radicals on healthy cells. Antioxidants prevent oxidative stress by helping free radicals stabilize without being destroyed in the process.


Types of Antioxidants


All antioxidants are good at combatting free radical damage. However, there are different forms of antioxidants and they vary in how well they can prevent oxidative stress.


Here are some of the popular antioxidants found in skincare products.



When it comes to skincare, vitamin C is one of the favorite antioxidants. Besides reducing and counteracting oxidative stress, vitamin C boosts collagen production and helps fade blemishes. Vitamin C comes in different forms too.

One form is tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (THD). THD is able to penetrate deeper into the skin to trigger more collagen production. It has a creamy texture as well instead of the typical serum-like form vitamin C is more associated with. You can also find L-ascorbic and Ester-C as the vitamin C component in skincare products.



Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant but it is also helpful in speeding up the skin’s healing process. Moisturizers and lotions that include vitamin E are helpful in soothing dry skin and reducing stretch marks.



Retinol is a form of vitamin A that is usually included in anti-aging skincare products. Retinol molecules are so tiny that they are able to penetrate deep within the skin to stimulate collagen production and encourage cell turnover. In effect, it gets rid of fine lines and wrinkles. It also evens out skin tone and helps treat acne.



Also known as CoQ-10 or Ubiquinone, this is a common ingredient in most eye creams and skin-firming products. It is also a helpful antioxidant to help even skin tone and smoothen fine lines and wrinkles.



Wrinkles, fine lines, hyperpigmentation, and skin dullness are all signs of a weakening of the epidermis. Niacinamide or vitamin B3 helps improve skin tone and texture by helping the epidermis heal and recover. It is water-soluble and is gentle enough for all skin types.

Skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea are also treated with Niacinamide since it is mild to use on sensitive skin. It can also be combined with most skincare ingredients and other antioxidants like retinol, vitamin C, and hydroxy acids.



This is probably my favorite since it is found in wines and dark chocolate. Yes! There is more reason to indulge in some dark chocolate to get you some polyphenol.

Polyphenols are plant-based vitamins found in vegetables, green tea, fruits, and chocolates. It has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that prevent photoaging and hinder skin cancer. Polyphenols can work both topically and through consumption. Now you can eat to have younger-looking skin!



Flavonoids are antioxidants found in green and black teas. These are called herbs or botanicals since its medicinal properties are derived from its plant form. Flavonoids have been found to help regulate cellular function and prevent photodamaging. It is potentially helpful in treating rosacea, slowing down skin aging, inhibiting skin cancer, and reducing inflammation.



Probably the most powerful antioxidant out there. Glutathione helps cells repair and protect vital organs like the liver, kidney, brain, and skin from being damaged. It has been popular for its skin whitening side effect. The skin lightening is caused by the detoxifying effects of Glutathione on the skin. Because of this, you get smoother, bouncier skin. Reduced glutathione is an oral antioxidant but is not suited for topical use. What is found on lotions and cream is oxidized glutathione.


How many types of antioxidants should you have in your skincare routine?

It depends on what you need. Remember, our body naturally produces free radicals for a reason. The goal of adding antioxidants to your routine is to balance this out, not eradicate it completely. Before you overwhelm your skin with all sorts of products, research on your choices first and ask a dermatologist for some expert advice. This is even more important if you will be taking oral supplements of glutathione and retinol.


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