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Youthful skin 101: Antioxidants explained

Jessica Padykula is a freelance writer and editor in Toronto, Canada covering a wide range of  topics for several online lifestyle publications. She is a regular contributor for SheKnows, covering travel, style, relationships, health and...

Get to know this skin superhero

With more and more seemingly ageless celebrities gracing magazine covers and movie screens, there is even more pressure to find the ultimate anti-aging skin care routine. While the average person has to live without the bevy of beauty products, supplements and skin smoothing secrets of Hollywood’s elite, there are some ingredients in the skin care spotlight aimed at keeping complexions healthy and glowing.

Woman applying antioxidant

Not a day seems to go by without someone touting the benefits of antioxidants. In particular, they are continually being lauded as a must-have ingredient for younger looking skin. We have the scoop as to why.

Antioxidants and free radicals

Antioxidants are substances known to protect cells from the damage caused by free radicals, molecules that cause damage to the skin at a cellular level. The main causes of free radical damage on skin include sunlight, pollution, cigarette smoke and even the air we breathe. Skin saving antioxidants reduce inflammation, repair DNA damage, restore the skin's surface barrier, help defend against environmental stress, allow skin to build more collagen, improve skin's ability to heal and effectively help fight sun damage.

Antioxidants and skin health

There are hundreds of antioxidants, which include water soluble and oil soluble antioxidants. Water soluble varieties include vitamin C and glutathione. Oil soluble ones include vitamin A, vitamin E and CoQ10. The best option is to use a combination of water and oil soluble antioxidants to get the most benefit since some antioxidants are all-around free radical scavengers, while others work better to regenerate substances in skin that defend it from damage and inflammation.

Make a note: When it comes to products containing antioxidants, be mindful of packaging. Antioxidants in cosmetics can deteriorate if they are repeatedly exposed to air and sunlight, so look for creams or lotions packaged in opaque tubes or bottles.


Antioxidants and sun damage

Sunlight increases inflammation caused by free radicals, which can damage DNA and ultimately lead to collagen destruction (think fine lines and wrinkles) and skin cancer. Your skin saviors? Vitamins C and E. Vitamin C scavenges free radicals and vitamin E combats skin aging and may also inhibit inflammation. Used in combination, these two powerhouse antioxidants increase collagen formation and help with the improvement of photodamage (sun damaged skin).

Eat your antioxidants

Whether you eat antioxidants or put them on your skin, they are vital to your health. Antioxidants reduce environmental damage, whether it's from the sun, pollution or just the air we breathe. Some of the better sources of antioxidants include the following.

  • Fruits: Many apple varieties (with peel), avocados, cherries, green and red pears, fresh or dried plums, pineapple and kiwi.
  • Vegetables: Rich sources of antioxidants include artichokes, spinach, red cabbage, red and white potatoes (with peel), sweet potatoes and broccoli.
  • Berries: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries and cranberries.
  • Nuts: Snack on walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds for their antioxidant content.
  • Herbs: Add flavor to your food and benefit from antioxidants by using ground cloves, cinnamon, ginger, dried oregano and turmeric.
  • Beans: Opt for small red beans and kidney, pinto and black beans.

Watch: Foods that bring beauty from the inside out

The Daily Dish brings you foods that have many benefits when it comes to not only how we feel, but how we look.

More skin care tips

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Soft skin tricks for the whole year
Skin care solutions: Get to know your skin type

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