You’ve probably heard about the wonders and necessity of antioxidants from everyone from your doctor to the guy at the juice bar down the street. And seeing the word “antioxidant” on a product label is not uncommon. It’s also not incredibly helpful because there are dozens of different antioxidants with a wide range of benefits. So which ones are best for your skin? How do the antioxidants in citrus fruits translate to a clear complexion? And what exactly are antioxidants?
For the answers to these questions and more, we turned to two specialists who know skin: Joanna Vargas, celebrity facialist and founder of Joanna Vargas Salon and Skincare Collection, and Dr. Elizabeth Tanzi, co-director of the Washington Institute of Dermatologic Laser Surgery in Washington DC.
Read on to find out what your skin has been missing!
What They Are
In the simplest terms, antioxidants are anti-inflammatories. “As anti-inflamatories, antioxidants assist the body in healing and provide protection from future damage,” Vargas says. And that’s damage in the broadest sense, meaning there’s an antioxidant to address every skin concern.
How To Use Them
Vargas recommends looking for serums with antioxidants because they contain ingredients in a pure form and are more concentrated than lotions and creams. Face oils are another good option. Dr. Tanzi adds that antioxidants can’t do it all on their own. “Support them by wearing SPF all the time and a hat when in direct sun,” she says. “Try to limit the amount of free radical formation (that leads to inflammation and collagen degeneration) by avoiding excessive sun exposure.”
What To Look For
Antioxidants are always a good idea, even more so in the summer when your hours in the sun start to add up. Generally, antioxidant ingredients break down easily, so Dr. Tanzi looks for formulas that have been proven to be stable. “I like the vitamin C and ferulic combination, as I think it’s one of the most stable, even in the summer elements,” Dr. Tanzi says. Together the combination works by speeding up the skin’s natural repair system and blocking future damage.
Vargas likes polyphenols, lycopene, and vitamin E because they all protect the skin against cell mutation from the sun. “Olive oil is fantastic for reversing sun damage and softening skin that has taken years of abuse under the sun because the polyphenols in olives act as an anti-mutagen ingredient,” she says. Lycopene fights free radicals, provides protection against environmental damage, and strengthens the skin. “Grapefruit is an awesome source of antioxidants because of the lycopene, but it’s also great to resurface the skin,” she says. “It contains natural salicylic acid—with that and its antioxidant properties, you can completely transform the surface of the skin in just a few uses.” Argan oil is another naturally antioxidant-rich oil with particularly high vitamin E levels. According to Vargas, that means the oil helps heal breakouts, supports skin elasticity, and stops cell mutation from pollution and the sun.
Keep flipping through for our top antioxidant-packed product picks!