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We often hear about antioxidants and how valuable they are for our health, but they can also be an important part of our skin care regimen. Antioxidants can be ingested through food, but sometimes this isn’t enough to have a significant impact on improving the appearance and health of our skin. Find out how antioxidants work and how we can get the most out of them for our skin care needs.
Hilary Peterson, founder of True Botanicals and Huffington Post contributor explains how the sun adversely affects our skin. According to Peterson, while you are exposed to the sun, the radiation from the sun creates “free radicals in your body’s skin cells. These are chemicals which can potentially harm cells. The damage caused can appear as wrinkles or hyperpigmentation among other things. The National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that up to 90% of cosmetic skin problems associated with aging could actually be from sun damage as opposed to the normal aging process.
Antioxidants are nature’s tools for fighting these free radicals. They are chemicals that interact and neutralize the free radicals, preventing them from causing damage. They are found naturally in our bodies, but can also be found in plants. There are many fruits, vegetables, wines, and teas that are rich in antioxidants.
But sometimes eating antioxidants is not enough for your skin to reap all of the benefits these chemicals have to offer. This is because the antioxidants work on all the free radicals in our body tissues, not just the ones in our skin cells. So, in addition to eating antioxidant-rich foods, it is also a good idea to apply them topically. Here is a list of some antioxidants that you can apply topically and what they can do for your skin:
Green tea oil: Dissolves oil that holds dead skin cells together, reducing flaking of skin
Green tea extract: Tones and soothes skin while fighting inflammation. White tea extract can be even more effective fighting enzymes that attack collagen and elastase.
Sea kelp extract: Promotes skin hydration and protects cell activity.
Vitamin C (or l-ascorbic acid): restores cells so they can restore collagen production.
Ferulic acid: repairs sun damaged skin; most effective when combined with Vitamin C.
Carrot seed: Improves skin tone, elasticity and overall health.
Grape seed oil: Rich in antioxidants and emollients, effective in fighting inflammation.
There are also many over the counter lotions that are rich in antioxidants. Reader’s Digest Best Health Magazine addresses some issues concerning how to keep antioxidants stable in product formulas since factors such as exposure to light can cause the antioxidants to break down. In answer to this, companies have been packaging lotions in dark brown, blue or opaque bottles and in metal tubes. Other companies include powdered vitamin C in a separate package that can be mixed in to the moisturizer at the time of use.
There is also the question of how much of the products are needed to be effective. Dr. Richard Thomas, a clinical assistant professor in the department of dermatology and skin science at the University of British Columbia warns that that is something still being determined. “Some products have just a sprinkle,” he says, “in other words, levels unlikely to be effective” yet concentrations that are too high run the risk of provoking skin irritation. There is an optimal concentration level for each antioxidant.