Don’t we all want to age like fine wine? But considering today's lifestyle habits, pollution and stress levels, this may seem like a far-fetched dream. Well, not until we tell you about that common wonder ingredient in most anti-aging products: Antioxidants!
In this post, we have got our chief dermatologist Dr. Harish Koutam, an accredited member of Indian Association of Dermatologists, Venereologists and Leprologists (IADVL) and Cosmetic Surgeons of India, to explain why antioxidants are crucial for skincare. We have also covered the best antioxidants available for your skin.
What Is The Deal About Antioxidants?
Antioxidants protect cells from free radicals and oxidative stress caused by free radicals (1). Wondering what that means?
Let’s go back to the basics of chemistry for a bit. A radical is an atom or a molecule that has an unpaired valence electron. Our bodies produce free radicals, which are unstable and uncharged. They lack an electron to form a bond, which in turn leads them to affect healthy cells.
When too many free radicals are produced in the body, chemical reactions generate highly reactive oxygen molecules (oxidative stress) that can rapidly damage the body’s proteins, lipids or DNA.
“Antioxidants combine to neutralize these reactive oxygen species, thus preventing oxidative damage to cells and tissues,” says Dr Harish. They are scavengers that find free radicals and donate a free electron to them. When the free radical is charged, it becomes stable and non-harming. (2)
Factors Leading To Free Radical Formation:
- Processed foods
- Prolonged exposure to sun, pollution, strong lights, cellphone and laptop/desktop screens.
How Stressful Is Oxidative Stress?
Consider the image below. Imagine your skin to be like tomatoes. They are fresh, glowing and healthy. When free radicals attack them, they lose their firmness and lustre, gradually becoming lifeless or rotten (aged, in case of skin).
This is what ‘free radical theory of aging’ (3) talks about. Free radicals target healthy skin cells to oxidise them, thus accelerate the aging process.
It is, therefore, a stressful situation when your skin is subjected to oxidative stress. It manifests on the upper layer of the skin in the form of fine lines or wrinkles.
Benefits Of Antioxidants
1. Antioxidants Fight The Signs Of Aging
Oxidative stress breaks down collagen. Reduced levels of collagen in the skin lead to sagging, fine lines and wrinkles. Antioxidants fight all these signs of aging and give your skin a youthful radiance.
2. Antioxidants Help Acne Prone Skin
Oxidative stress triggers inflammation in the skin, leading to breakouts. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress, thereby reducing inflammation and acne. According to Dr. Harish, antioxidants are great anti-inflammatory agents.
3. Antioxidants Prevent Sunburn
Your skin responds to the harmful UV-B rays from the sun by triggering an inflammatory response. Because antioxidants are potent anti-inflammatory compounds, they prevent inflammation or sunburn. Good news? Improved protection against sun damage.
4. Antioxidants Lighten Skin Tone
Melanin (skin pigment) is produced due to prolonged exposure to sun and free radical damage. Antioxidants fight both the causes and hence, there is a decreased production of melanin. The result being brighter skin.
Top Antioxidants For Skin
1. Vitamin A
It is a super warrior that fights off free radicals. Besides, it helps in the production of collagen (fibrous protein responsible for skin strength).
As we age, collagen production is reduced, leading to fine lines, dark spots, scars and sun spots. Vitamin A reduces the appearance of these ageing signs.
Retinoic acid, retinol, tretinoin, adapalene, retinaldehyde are different forms of vitamin A derivatives. Retinol is the most common ingredient found in anti-aging skin care.
SkinKraft Anti-Aging & Antioxidant Booster Shot contains encapsulated retinol as its primary ingredient. Encapsulation enables better penetration of the product without degrading it before it reaches the skin.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is popular for its antioxidant, antiinflammatory and anti-aging properties. Vitamin C comes in many forms like L-ascorbic acid, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbic glucosamine, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate.
Vitamin C is also known for its skin lightening properties and is widely being used to treat tan.
3. Vitamin E
Vitamin E treats UV-induced photodamage, strengthens skin's natural barrier and can be effective against skin cancer. It is also a great moisturizing ingredient and helps in skin’s healing process too.
4. Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
Niacinamide fights oxidative stress and improves skin tone and texture. It is also used to treat skin conditions like rosacea and acne. It is naturally found in foods like meat. Niacinamide also helps in strengthening the skin barrier and preventing water loss.
5. Green Tea (Extract)
Have you been putting off green tea for a while now? Green tea extract is rich in plant polyphenols that improves immunity, fights free radicals and is anti-inflammatory.
Green tea is effective in reducing the risk of cancer. Sip on two cups of green tea a day or simply buy skincare products that contain green tea extracts.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant that helps in anti-aging. It is found naturally in red wine, grapes and berries. It is also antibacterial and proven to contain cancer-fighting properties according to scientific studies. The SkinKraft Anti-Aging & Antioxidant Booster Shot contains resveratrol besides encapsulated retinol.
Have you ever reached the spice box in the kitchen for turmeric to soothe your cuts and burns? That is because turmeric contains an antioxidant called Curcumin. It decreases inflammation, speeds up wound healing, fights free radicals and is antimicrobial.
Lycopene is a powerful antioxidant and is easily absorbed into the skin. This is a cartinoid found in most red vegetables. Besides fighting free radicals, lycopene promotes collagen production.
If you experience any skin allergies or abnormalities after using antioxidant serums, consult your dermatologist. Let us know your experience with antioxidants in the comments below.
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