An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — especially when it comes to skin. But should you believe in products that aren’t so much about the results you see as the damage you won’t? According to Medical News Today, “Antioxidants are substances that can prevent or slow damage to cells caused by free radicals, unstable molecules that the body produces as a reaction to environmental and other pressures. They are sometimes called “free-radical scavengers.” The sources of antioxidants can be natural or artificial.” Here’s what you should know about this oft-use term.
We all wear sunscreen on sunny days because the transaction is clear: apply it and you won’t burn. The benefits of wearing it on cloudy days, however, are less obvious. And that’s because UVA rays – the ones that cause DNA damage – don’t leave a mark until years later, when the cracks (literally) start to show. Antioxidants have a similarly lofty complexion-saving MO: they neutralise free radicals – molecules that are formed inside our bodies and also come from external elements such as pollution – before they can destroy collagen and trigger pigmentation. This sounds dramatic, but is well-proven.
So, how do you get excited about a product that will make you look … no better than you do right now? It’s a tough sell, but peer into any beauty obsessive’s bathroom cabinet and you’ll find an antioxidant serum – and increasingly a supplement, too. That’s because from our late twenties we need to preserve as much as we repair. And while our bodies make antioxidants, we can bolster that supply.
Applying an antioxidant serum in the AM can ward off damage and, in some cases, repair skin. For instance, vitamin C can brighten dark spots and stimulate collagen. Other star players include vitamin E, ferulic acid, phloretin, and green and red tea.
According to Anna Lahey, who has been studying the impact of antioxidants since launching Vida Glow, “one of the most important things to under-stand about skin is that damage occurs internally long before it appears in the mirror”. By battling the impact of environmental damage from within, Lahey says you can better target concerns such as ageing.
The obvious question: do antioxidants work the same way when we ingest them? “This is exactly what we researched when creating Anti-G-Ox,” she says. “We found that while antioxidants are all unique in their functions, they work similarly to fight free radical damage in the body.”
Interestingly, while antioxidants applied topically help treat an acute area, such as under the eyes, Lahey says when are taken internally (for Anti-G-Ox, she recommends 1-2 sachets per day), they will help to improve skin from head to toe. And while there are clinical studies to back that up, it’s her anecdotal evidence we love: “With a growing business and three children, I don’t get as much sleep as I should,” says Lahey. “But my skin doesn’t show it.” Pass the sachet.
This article was first published in Women’s Weekly.