What Do Antioxidants Do for Your Skin?
Antioxidants are naturally occurring vitamins and minerals—like vitamins A, C, E, and green tea—that protect your skin against free radicals.
Some antioxidants also brighten your skin, calm irritation, and smooth fine lines—as long as you choose the right ones.
Green tea is the best source of polyphenols that scavenge free radicals and work as an anti-inflammatory to accelerate wound healing—a top pick for anyone with rosacea, psoriasis, sensitive skin, and even acne.
Vitamin C (i.e., L-ascorbic acid, as you might see on some products) is pretty much the ultimate antioxidant for perking up dull, blah, tired-looking skin. Just like green tea, it can calm and hydrate your skin, and similar to retinol, it boosts your collagen production to tighten fine lines and smooth uneven skin. Vitamin C is best for brightening.
Vitamin A is best for anti-aging. It is the same as retinol—or, instead, retinol is a concentrated vitamin A. Retinol smooths fine lines, fills in wrinkles, softens bumps and rough patches, brightens skin, fades scars and dark marks, and drastically reduces acne (even hormonal cystic acne).
Of course, something that potent does come with side effects, namely, a few weeks of “purging” when you first start using it that can cause breakouts, dryness, and flakes. But you’ve got to stick with it to see results (which will first be noticeable after 3-6 months). Apply it once a night a week for one week, twice a week for two weeks, three times a week for three weeks, and then every other day for the rest of your life.
Vitamin E (a.k.a. tocopherol) is best for moisturizing. It’s a popular kind of antioxidant because it does a little bit of everything without being too intense. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, a strong shield against free radicals and premature aging, and a pro at keeping skin soft and supple, critical for preventing scar formation.
Though it’s fine—and very gentle–on its own in products, it’s even more potent against free radicals when combined with vitamin C (which is why you’ll see so many vitamins C + E products). If your skin isn’t too sensitive, try doubling up your products in the morning, layering on a moisturizer over a serum, or oil over a moisturizer.
Gold is an Antioxidant Too!
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