So many times you must have heard about the term ‘antioxidants’ in terms of health and healthcare. We are always advised to eat fruits and vegetables with antioxidants in them for better health. What are these antioxidants?
How are antioxidants and skin health-related? And what natural ingredients contain antioxidants in them?
All these questions are answered in this blog, along with a special course that you can look up if you are interested in your overall skincare and skin health. First, let us start by learning what these antioxidants are and what do they do?
Antioxidants and skin health: what are they?
For understanding antioxidants and their functions, we need to understand another term called ‘free radicals’. Free radicals are constantly formed in your body. The immune system uses free radicals to fight infections in the body. Hence they are important.
So your body naturally maintains a balance of free radicals and antioxidants.
Sometimes when the amount of free radicals increases in comparison to antioxidants, they start to cause harm. Without antioxidants, the body will start deteriorating very fast, and can even lead to death.
So, antioxidants are required to balance these free radicals. They fight them in case their level becomes too high. High free radical amount in the body is linked to diabetes, heart diseases, and even cancer.
The body has its own antioxidant mechanism, but sometimes it needs help from external factors(foods, supplements, etc).
In simple words: if you have ever seen an apple turn brown when kept in open, after slicing, that process is oxidation.
The free, unstable radicals in the skin start pairing up with each other to stabilize and this results in a chain reaction. It starts damaging healthy cells too!
So you see, this is how antioxidants and skin health are related! When the antioxidant system is weakened, the skin cells start to degenerate, causing early signs of aging, dark spots, blemishes, wrinkles, lines, and in advanced stages, even cancer.
Causes of oxidative stress in humans
So what causes the overload of free radicals in the body, also known as oxidative stress. They can be natural or your routine activities:
- Mitochondrial activity
- Tissue trauma, due to inflammation and injury
- Excessive exercise
- Consumption of refined and processed foods, trans fats, artificial sweeteners, and certain dyes and additives
- Sun radiation
- Environmental pollution
- Exposure to chemicals- pesticides and drugs, including chemotherapy
- Industrial solvents
Such activities and exposures can result in cell damage
This, in turn, may lead to an increase in the enzymes that generate free radicals along with a rise in a type of WBCs. and this is what causes oxidative stress to the skin.
Antioxidants and skin health: benefits of antioxidants for skin
Antioxidants and skin health are related in a way that is interconnected in many ways. As we have discussed with you earlier, that free radicals in our body cause the skin cells to degenerate and age early. They can also cause discoloration and blemishes on the skin. Antioxidants are helpful in the following ways:
Antioxidants help reverse the signs of aging.
Oxidative stress caused by the free radicals breaks down collagen in the skin. It also disturbs the skin’s natural repair process and triggers inflammation. And this is how you see the effects like loose skin, acne breakouts, and an uneven skin tone.
By stabilizing the free radicals, antioxidants help prevent and correct these visible signs and give skin a more youthful glow.
Antioxidants prevent sun damage.
All antioxidants have anti-inflammatory properties too. They lower your skin’s inflammatory response to the sun’s UV rays, preventing sunburn and providing enhanced protection against photoaging.
Antioxidants help in skin repair
Inflammation slows down the skin’s renewal process. By decreasing inflammation of the skin, antioxidants help the skin cells to repair themselves and correct visible damage. Antioxidants like vitamin C also stimulate collagen production, which is important for younger-looking skin.
Antioxidants correct discoloration.
We have learned how antioxidants and skin health are related. Since they protect the skin from sun damage, they balance out the melanin production in the skin. This melanin is responsible for the coloration of the skin.
When it is unstabilized due to the free radicals, it causes dark spots, pigmentation, and blemishes. Antioxidants correct all this by stabilizing the free radicals!
Antioxidants Help Acne-Prone Skin
Oxidative stress caused by the free radicals triggers inflammation in the skin, which further leads to breakouts. Antioxidants reduce oxidative stress, hence reducing inflammation and acne.
Top known Antioxidants for the skin
We have learned all about why antioxidants are good for the skin and the benefits of antioxidants for the skin.
Now it’s time to get some more knowledge! This section is all about the antioxidants that are good for your skin health!
You may find these in foods, fruits, skincare products, and may even apply them directly to your skin!
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Here are the top antioxidants that skincare experts swear by:
1. Vitamin A
Vitamin A is a magic wand! It fixes the free radicals effectively.
It also helps in collagen production which in turn helps the skin to look young and radiant. The skin strength increases and the dark spots, lines, wrinkles decrease.
The most common ingredient having Vitamin A is Retinol. It is used in almost all anti-ageing products. Tretinoin, adapalene, retinaldehyde are other forms of Vitamin A.
It percolates deep into the skin layers and repairs it from the inside.
2. Vitamin C
Vitamin C is popular for its anti-aging, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.
It is also known for its skin brightening and lightening properties. It is the main ingredient in de-tanning products.
3. Vitamin E
The relationship between antioxidants and skin health can be best explained in terms of Vitamin E. It is the most versatile vitamin out there, proven to have shown effects even overnight. It treats photodamage, strengthens skin cells, and prevents skin cancer. Vitamin E is a great moisturizing agent.
4. Vitamin B3 (Niacinamide)
Niacinamide fights against oxidative stress and helps improve skin tone and texture. It also treats skin conditions like rosacea and acne. It is naturally found in foods like meat and used in skincare products for nourishment. Niacinamide also helps strengthens the skin barrier and prevents water loss.
5. Green Tea (Extract)
Green tea is an ‘evergreen’ solution to most skin and body issues. So if you have been putting off green tea for a while now, please go back to it! The extract from green tea is rich in plant polyphenols. It fights free radicals and is anti-inflammatory.
Green tea is, to some extent, effective in reducing the risk of cancer. You can drink green tea or use products that have natural green tea extracts in them.
Resveratrol is an antioxidant that is present in anti-aging products. In nature, it is found in red wine, grapes, and berries. It is also antibacterial and proven to contain cancer-fighting properties.
This antioxidant, predominantly found in turmeric, speeds up wound healing, decreases inflammation, stabilizes free radicals, and is a great antimicrobial.
This is generally present in vegetables. It is easily absorbed in the skin and fights free radicals. Along with fighting oxidation, it also promotes collagen production. This collagen helps in maintaining the elasticity of the skin and maintaining the young look.
This is how antioxidants and skin health are related. They help in healing and maintaining the skin! They are nature’s magic! Every benefit they provide is based directly or indirectly on the fact they fight the free radicals and reduce oxidative stress.
So always look for organic skincare products that have one or more of these, or include these in your diet! Better yet, make them on your own!