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How Antioxidants Protect Against Photoaging & What Are The Best Antioxidants

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Have you ever seen someone that looked several years older than their real age? The wrinkles, fine lines, and pigmented skin make it almost impossible for you to believe that they are not actually as old as she looks. This is the sad reality of the effects of photoaging.

For years, dermatologists and skincare companies have been searching for a solution that delays aging and guarantees a firm, youthful look. Well, it looks like a solution is finally here! Antioxidants could be the “youthful fountain” that we’ve all been searching for!

You have probably noticed that antioxidants are included in most of your skincare products. The reason for this is not farfetched; they offer strong protection against the effects of oxidative stress brought about by overexposure to UV rays. Before we delve into the amazing benefits of antioxidants that prevent your skin from photodamage, let’s examine what photo aging is all about.

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What is photoaging?

Unlike natural skin aging, which is brought about by intrinsic factors like hormonal changes and genetics, photoaging is premature skin aging due to oxidative stress caused by overexposure to UV radiation. The human skin is naked and is always exposed to the air, sun, and other pollutants that are quite harmful to the skin’s overall health. The daily exposure to the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays puts our skin in danger of oxidative stress- an imbalance of free radicals and antioxidants in the body, leading to premature aging. 

Let’s break this down a little more. Free radicals are molecules without an electron to form a bond. They attempt to steal electrons from other atoms, and in the process, they cause severe damages to the skin.

How do antioxidants help prevent photoaging?

This is where antioxidants come in. Recent research shows that antioxidants protect against photoaging. Board-certified dermatologist Neva Greenfield, M.D explains that antioxidants work to counter free radicals in the skin caused by sunlight. They stop the formation of free radicals by donating electrons to neutralize them. The skin needs a proper balance between free radicals and antioxidants to function well. 

When this balance is lost, and free radicals outweigh the available antioxidants, we experience what is known as oxidative stress. If left unchecked, oxidative stress triggers premature skin aging, hyperpigmentation, acne, and skin cancers.

Benefits of antioxidants in skin care

1

Antioxidants fight signs of aging

Oxidative stress is one of the major culprits of saggy skin, fine lines, and wrinkles. Prolonged exposure to oxidative stress reduces collagen production, thereby making the skin lose its elasticity and leading to premature aging. 

A recent study confirms that astaxanthin, an antioxidant helps to manage photodamage. By increasing collagen production, antioxidants help your skin to retain its youthful radiance.

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2

Antioxidants protect your skin from sunburn

Skin inflammation is often a result of constant exposure to harmful UV-B. One of the negative effects of the sun on your skin is trans-epidermal water loss. The skin loses its moisture; as a result, it becomes dry and inflamed. Thankfully, antioxidants have been proven to have potent anti-inflammatory properties that protect your skin against sun damage.

3

Antioxidants prevent skin pigmentation

Another effect of overexposure to UV rays and free radicals is the increased melanin production (skin pigment). This makes the skin lose its original tone as dark spots or patches appear on the skin. By donating electrons to free radicals, antioxidants decrease melanin production in the skin and help prevent hyperpigmentation, giving you a more youthful skin tone.

4

Antioxidants soothe acne-prone skin

Acne is one of the major skin problems that many people battle with. When the skin is exposed to oxidative stress caused by free radicals, it becomes inflamed, leading to breakouts. Since antioxidants reduce oxidative stress, they help to prevent skin inflammation and acne. A study that examined the effectiveness of vitamin C, an antioxidant in treating acne, discovered that 61% of the participants experienced improvements in acne lesions after using a lotion containing sodium ascorbyl phosphate (SAP) for a period of 12 weeks.

What are the best antioxidants for skin?

Vitamin A

This is a common ingredient found in most anti-aging skincare products. The reason for this is not far fetched; Vitamin A is a warrior ingredient that fights off free radicals and also increases the production of collagen in the body. Collagen is a fibrous protein that’s responsible for strengthening the skin and giving it a firm look. As we grow older, the body becomes less capable of producing enough collagen; this leads to fine lines, wrinkles, scars, and sunspots.  

Vitamin A stimulates fibroblasts (collagen-producing cells) to increase the production of healthy collagen and elastin in the body. There are different forms of Vitamin A derivatives that can be used to fight the signs of photoaging. They include retinoic acid, retinol, adapalene, and tretinoin. 

Vitamin B3

This is an all-time favorite of skincare experts. It is a potent powerhouse that can reduce the effects of photoaging, reduce trans epidermal water loss (a major culprit of premature aging), and improve skin tone and texture. Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is effective for waging a winning war against oxidative stress; it’s an antioxidant with broad anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin B3 can be taken orally or applied topically to protect the skin from photodamage. It can also be used together with other anti-aging agents like retinol or hyaluronic acid.

Green Tea

Did you know that green tea is not just great for your mug but also works wonders on your face as well? It is a powerful antioxidant that fights free radicals responsible for photoaging. Green tea is obtained from the plant Camellia sinensis. It has polyphenols properties that protect your delicate skin from harsh UV rays and mitigate UVB-induced protein oxidation. The topical application of green tea can also help manage acne by reducing sebum production and inflammations in the follicles. 

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It has been proven that the polyphenols in green tea protects your skin from the harmful effects of UVB light as well as suppress oxidative stress. However, taking two cups of green tea per day may not be enough to give you the effects you desire. Include products that contain green tea extract in your skincare regimen. 

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of the best anti-aging ingredients used in most skincare products. It is a strong antioxidant that helps fade hyperpigmentation, impede melanin production, and combat photoaging.

It also helps prevent the skin from becoming saggy by boosting collagen production and improving skin elasticity and firmness. A study that examined the association between nutrient intake and skin-aging appearance in 4025 found that higher vitamin C intake is associated with a lower wrinkled appearance. 

Vitamin C also accelerates cell turnover and boosts wound healing. You can apply vitamin C serums once or twice per day for an effective result.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E, also known as tocopherol, has a watertight resume for combating sun damage. Research proves that Vitamin E reduces UV-induced photodamage. It also stabilizes the skin barrier and decreases the risk of skin cancer.  

Vitamin E is best used in combination with other antioxidants as it is rapidly depleted by UVB. Antioxidants like vitamin C help stabilize and regenerate vitamin E. Thus, combining these two ingredients will guarantee a more effective result.

Resveratrol

The topical application of resveratrol can protect the skin from photodamage. Research shows that resveratrol is useful in the prevention of UV-B mediated damages, including skin cancer. Resveratrol can be found naturally in berries, red grapes, red wine, and peanuts. Many skincare products in the market contain resveratrol. The trick is to experiment with different products and decide which is best for you.

Curcumin

One of the reasons why turmeric is often used for treating cuts and burns is because it contains an antioxidant known as curcumin. This polyphenol antioxidant helps to fight free radicals, reduce skin inflammation, and protect against photoaging. It is also anti-microbial; thus, it is effective for treating acne.

Bottom Line

Photoaging is often a result of oxidative stress brought about by overexposure to the damaging UV rays and free radicals. The daily use of antioxidants along with your sunscreen is the best way to prevent your skin from photoaging.


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