Antioxidants for skin: what are they and which ones are best?

Certain antioxidants regularly added to skincare products do have clinical benefits.
antioxidants for skin

The skincare industry is currently growing at a rapid pace. Within the next decade, the global skincare market is expected to expand from $100 billion in 2021 to $146 billion in 2028. With so many complex ingredients processed into so many different formulations, understanding what you’re putting on your skin can become arduous and tiresome. And while many of these ingredients have limited or nonexistent dermatological benefits, the good news is that most advanced skin care products now contain some type of antioxidants, compounds that protect against skin damage and keep your skin looking healthier. 

What are antioxidants?

Before we explain what antioxidants are, we need to discuss what oxidative stress is. Oxidative stress occurs when your body produces too much of a type of molecule called reactive oxygen species (ROS). Your bodies produce these compounds all the time as a by-product of using oxygen and when your body fights against dangerous bacteria. Although ROSs can protect your body from harm, they can also harm your body when concentrations get too high. At that point, ROSs can drive many diseases (learn more: What Is Oxidative Stress And How Does It Relate To Metabolic Health?) and damage your skin. Antioxidants scavenge ROSs and quench them, preventing them from damaging your body. 

What do antioxidants do for skin?

There are multiple types of antioxidants. Each of these antioxidants provides myriad health benefits that keep your skin looking fresher and smoother. Some of these antioxidants are vitamins that you typically ingest when eating food; but you can also apply them to your skin.

In addition to the above vitamins, these other skincare ingredients provide antioxidant effects:

The protective effects that antioxidants provide also occur when administered together.

Could probiotics/prebiotics improve our skin?

In addition to the broad range of antioxidants available now, mixtures of healthy bacteria are also being used to treat skin conditions. The peer-reviewed literature has a nice mixture of established and new probiotics that also function as antioxidants. 

What to consider before buying a skincare product

Looking at the list of chemical ingredients in a skincare product can be overwhelming for anyone. We can simplify this process by providing you with a series of questions to consider when looking for the skin product that works best for you:

At the end of the day, if you would like to know the best way to treat any skin symptoms, the best thing to do is to talk to your medical provider and/or consult with a specialist M.D. in dermatology. Raise questions based on the ones we provide and build on them to find the skincare products that work best for you.

Key takeaways

Antioxidants are a vital ingredient in many skin care products, protecting your body from ROSs that damage your skin and so providing unique benefits that can help your skin stay healthy and look better. In addition to antioxidants, clinical researchers are developing new topical probiotic formulations, with a range of substances, that confer similar benefits for your skin. However, with any topical skincare product, there comes the risk of unpleasant side effects, so follow the application directions carefully and stay observant when starting to use a new product; results are highly individualized. Should you have any question as to whether your skin issue is a cosmetic one, or could be a sign of a more serious medical issue, don’t hesitate to contact a dermatologist for expert assessment.  

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