Antioxidants have become quite popular for their health benefits, specifically in the skincare industry. They are toted as having highly beneficial “anti-aging” properties. There is plenty of research that indicates the potential of improved skin health and youth longevity available. That said, how effective are antioxidants in countering the natural aging process, really? Furthermore, what makes antioxidants important for skincare? This article will be discussing this topic further and include a more in depth, science-based look at the benefits of antioxidants in skincare.
How Do Antioxidants Work In Skincare?
The function of an antioxidant is implied by its name, meaning it is the opposition of an oxidant. What is an oxidant? Oxidants are substances that causes oxidation. Common oxidizing agents include oxgen, hydrogen peroxide and halogens. Oxidation, an occurrence throughout nature, takes place when a oxidant causes atoms to lose electrons. In turn, this creates an unstable molecule, which causes damage or corrosion (oxidative stress) to surrounding matter.
Regarding the skin, oxidative stress occurs at the cellular level when dermal tissue is exposed to ultraviolet radiation. The oxidizing agent created from this exposure are known as free radicals. In skincare, antioxidants are used in an effort to neutralize free radicals and reduce cell damage.
Efficacy of Antioxidants In Beauty Products
The idea behind antioxidants is an attractive theory that has been harnessed by skincare companies around the world. The possibility of slowing down and stopping the aging process is far too alluring for both suppliers and consumers to ignore. There is a vast variety of supplements and topical products toting the anti-aging benefits of antioxidants.
Commonly Used Antioxidants in Skincare:
- Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
- Vitamin E (Tocopherols, Tocotrienols)
- Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10)
- Idebenone (Synthetic CoQ10)
- Beta Carotene
Antioxidants, excluding Idebenone, can be extracted from several natural sources. It is important to note that “natural” can be used loosely to promote ingredients in health and beauty products. The process in which these nutrients are acquired are not always natural. That said, some of these aforementioned antioxidants are extracted from increasingly wider range of botanicals.
Natural Sources of Antioxidants in Skincare:
- Coffee Berries
- Grape Seeds
- Green Tea
According one leading Louisiana based dermatologist, Dr. Patricia Farris, “The use of topical antioxidants is gaining favor.” The upward trend of antioxidant use in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industry seems likely to continue with the increasing scientific evidence proving its effectiveness.
Skincare Antioxidant Pros And Cons
A number of scientific studies indicate that antioxidants are beneficial in cosmetic skincare. Estheticians state that the number one cause of skin damage is prolonged exposure to sunlight and UV radiation. This environmental source of damage can lead to age spots, wrinkles and dry skin. Therefore, many anti-aging products use UV protection and antioxidants to negate cellular and DNA damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet rays. The hope is that by reducing this damage, one can extend the health, youthfulness and beauty of their skin.
Alternatively, not all dermatologists agree on this subject. Most notably, the clinical division head of dermatology, Dr. Cheryl Rosen at the University Health Network (Toronto, CAN) and the clinical assistant professor of the dermatology and skin science department, Dr. Thomas at the University of British Columbia. According to these scientists, antioxidant benefits in skincare are still more theoretical than scientific fact. Dr. Rosen finds that the current understanding of antioxidants is merely superficial. That said, she does proclaim that antioxidants are not harmful in their present usage.