Choosing the Best Antioxidants for Your Skin

You’ve likely heard the importance of antioxidants for your skin. Antioxidants help fight free radicals, which are unstable compounds that attack cells and cause wrinkles, dull skin, and sometimes skin cancer. Healthy skin starts on the inside so it’s important to consume a diet rich in antioxidants—but some skincare products contain antioxidants and some are more effective than others.

Certain antioxidants have certain functions, so it’s wise to include a combination of antioxidants in your skincare regimen. Here’s what to look for:

Green Tea: Green tea contains a number of powerful polyphenols, including one called epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Research has shown that when EGCG is applied before or immediately after UV exposure, it can help correct the cellular changes caused by damaging UV rays. Furthermore, EGCG can help combat free radicals and carcinogenic skin cells. If you’re looking for a skincare product that contains green tea, make sure there is enough green tea extract in the product to make it effective. How can you tell? Creams with an adequate amount of green tea extract will appear brown.

Vitamin C: Vitamin C is an essential antioxidant for the skin, but it is not produced by the human body. That’s why it is important to include vitamin C in your diet as well as in your skincare products. Vitamin C comes in a number of forms, but ascorbic acid is the most effective. Vitamin C has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, collagen-building, and sun-protection benefits. Look for products that contain ascorbic acid and ones that are packaged in dark tubes with small mouths because vitamin C is sensitive to both light and air

Resveratrol: Resveratrol is a polyphenolic compound found in grapes, berries, cocoa, and peanuts. When applied before sun exposure, resveratrol blocks the production of free radicals and can prevent skin damage. It has been shown to slow the development and growth of skin cancer. Research has shown that resveratrol is effective when applied topically. Look for skincare products that have resveratrol as one of the basic ingredients.

Idebenone: Idebenone is closely related to coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), though it is more stable and water-soluble. Idebenone has been shown to protect cells from free radical damage. It penetrates better than CoQ10 and protects skin cells from the damaging effects of UVB rays. Idebenone is a powerful wrinkle-fighter, but about one in ten people have an allergic reaction to it. If you want to include idebenone in your skincare regimen, be sure to do a small patch test before applying the product more widely.