The realm of antioxidants is truly fascinating. They play a pivotal role within skincare and their prevalence in the healthcare market has been booming since we can remember, in the forms of super-foods and super-green supplements to articles on ‘the beauty industry’s best kept secret: berries’.
Skin’s not so Secret Weapon: The Role of Antioxidants for Healthy Skin
The realm of antioxidants is truly fascinating. They play a pivotal role within skincare and their prevalence in the healthcare market has been booming since we can remember, in the forms of super-foods and super-green supplements to articles on ‘the beauty industry’s best kept secret: berries’. These mighty molecules have been on everyone’s lips for a long time.
The benefits of incorporating antioxidants into your skincare routine are undeniable. They help to protect against environmental stressors, promote collagen synthesis for firmness and elasticity, brighten the complexion by reducing hyperpigmentation and sooth and calm irritated skin.
From serum to creams, mask to toners, antioxidants can be found in a wide range of routines, which does make it seem easier to incorporate them into your daily regime. But do we really know exactly what they are and how they work?
Well, Antioxidants are like superheroes for the skin. They help protect our skin from the harmful effects of oxidation, which is a chemical reaction that produces highly reactive molecules called free radicals, also known as Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) and Hydrogen peroxides (H2O2) and Superoxide.
These free radicals are produced by our skin cells because of the normal processes like cellular respiration, metabolic processes as well as external factors like air pollution, smoke, and sunlight. Normally, our body’s defence mechanisms, enzymatic processes, can neutralise free radicals, but sometimes the balance gets disrupted leading to damage to cellular structures, membranes, and mitochondrial DNA triggering ageing.
Our skin is constantly exposed to environmental and biological aggressors, and it has its own defence mechanisms in place to deal with them. However, sometimes our skin’s natural defences can be overwhelmed. That’s where antioxidants come in. They help by neutralising free radicals and preventing them from causing harm to our skin cells.
Antioxidants come in different types, each with its own unique role in defending our skin:
- Primary Antioxidants: These are powerful antioxidant enzymes that our bodies naturally produce as the first line of defence against radical damage. They are our frontline soldiers that specifically scavenge and neutralise free radicals and prevent them causing harm.
- Secondary Antioxidants: These antioxidants work in combination with primary antioxidants to help convert harmful hydroperoxides into stable molecules that are less reactive. Think of them like the chefs to the frontline soldiers. They can be found in ingredients like Ubiquinone (Coenzyme Q10) and trace minerals such as Iron, Copper, Zinc and Manganese which all help to enhance the activities of antioxidant enzymes.
- Tertiary Antioxidants: These antioxidants play a crucial role in repairing the damage caused by free radicals and promoting healthy cellular function (mostly non-enzymatic antioxidants), the nurses of the war against free radicals. These can be found in Vitamins such as C and E. The antioxidant defence system in our skin consists of both enzymatic and non-enzymatic substances, working together to neutralise reactive oxygen species and prevent and repair oxidative stress. Non-enzymatic antioxidants contribute to maintaining cellular balance, which means that with healthy cell function, fewer free radicals are produced, reducing the potential for damage.
There are many, many different types of antioxidants that can be found in countless different ingredients from Plant extracts like catechins from green tea, grape seed extracts, marine extracts all rich in polyphenols, flavonoids and carotenoids that protect skin to specifically made antioxidant peptides – they all work together with our enzymatic processes to prevent oxidative damage.
The specific combination and concentration of antioxidants in skincare does vary, so it is very important to be choosing ingredients that suit your skin type and concerns as opposed to jam-packing your routine with all the antioxidants you can find. Incorporating them into your skincare routine will help to add protection against damage and promote healthy skin function, but it must be done according to your skin. So, what are some viable options?
Ayuna, a Spanish skincare brand known for its innovative use of powerful plant-based extracts, has created a ground-breaking serum called Nectar. This lightweight, creamy serum is packed with a unique blend of super antioxidants and biotechnological components that work synergistically to nourish and rejuvenate the skin.
One of the key ingredients in Nectar is Astaxanthin, a specific antioxidant from the algae ‘haematococcus pluvialis’. Astaxanthin is an impressive 500 times more potent than its Vitamin C counterpart and even still more potent than Ubiquinone in its antioxidant properties, making it a powerhouse in helping to fight free radicals and protect against UV damage. Studies have also shown that Astaxanthin has properties to repair DNA damage.
Nectar also contains ‘living stone’ stem cells, which are succulents known for their ability to manage water and light as they grow under sand/soil. Combined with bio-sugars, these stem cells work to maximise the skin’s capacity to absorb Vitamin D and Lumisterol, which strengthens the skin’s barrier function and prevent the glycation process. This unique composition of Nectar results in supple and deeply hydrated skin.
Ayuna’s Nectar is a prime example of how cutting-edge skincare formulations can harness the power of antioxidants from natural sources to provide potent benefits.
Another example lies in Sapelo’s Spring Tide Serum, which contains trace minerals of Selenium, Magnesium, Zinc, and Copper - powerful secondary antioxidants that can benefit the skin in several ways. These trace minerals help replenish and support the body’s natural antioxidant defences, enhancing its ability to fight and prevent free radical damage. In addition to these properties, these trace minerals also have anti-inflammatory effects which can help to calm and soothe the skin.
The star ingredient, however, is in the Arctic Salmon Caviar, which naturally already contains these trace minerals, along with proteins, vitamins, lipids, and amino acids. These natural components of the Salmon Roe work together to provide a unique and effective anti-ageing process helping to improve collagen levels in the skin at a deep molecular level. All whilst they repair and improve cell function by improving our primary antioxidant enzymes by healing cell membranes – the natural lipid membranes within Salmon Roe help ingredients to penetrate deeper.
Spring Tide Serum
Lastly, Biologique Recherche’s Crème MSR-H is designed specifically for those who are pre, post, and peri-menopausal. During these hormonal imbalances, cellular functions can be disrupted, leading to oxidative stress on the skin as communication between cells breaks down. Crème MSR-H contains a specific active ingredient derived from Vitamin E that plays a dual role in protecting the skin from reactive species, including Reactive Oxygen species and Reactive Nitrogen Species.
This specific anti ROS and anti RNS antioxidant inhibits lipid peroxidation and traps these reactive species, preserving skin cells and their functions. Additionally, a purer form of Vitamin E is added alongside its derivative to protect the lipids of the cell membranes from damage caused by the formation of free radicals.
Émulsion Originelle Régenérante
All the above are just a few examples on how skincare can incorporate powerful antioxidants to protect and preserve skin by addressing specific needs of different skin types. This approach to skincare can provide targeted solutions for individuals experiencing several concerns -
Antioxidants work in different ways which is why it's important to determine the best options for your specific skin type and concerns and to shop for your individual needs. With the right antioxidants and skincare regime, you can support your skin's natural defence mechanisms and promote a radiant, healthy complexion. It’s no secret that antioxidants are wonderful for the skin, it is however a lesser known fact that not all of them will work for everyone.
By Andrew Yates
16TH APR 2023