Antioxidants Explained – 5 Powerful Antioxidants to Include in Your Skincare Routine

Ask any dermatologist, beauty editor or skincare nerd and they will all agree – antioxidants should be an essential part of any skincare routine.

What do antioxidants do?

The primary function of antioxidants is to protect against free radicals, pollution, and environmental stressors. Whether we like it or not our skin is exposed to pollution, smoke, and the sun (among others) on daily basis. When our skin is exposed in such a manner, it accelerates the aging process. Antioxidants protect our skin and body from the damaging free radicals (molecules released by these environmental stressors which have unmatched electrons that get attached to healthy molecules). Oxidative stress happens when our body cannot counterbalance these molecules and the harmful effect they have on our body. Antioxidants also photoprotect the skin against the harmful effects of the sun.

Another benefit of certain antioxidants is to even out skin tone. If your skin is sun damaged and dull, a number of antioxidants can help even out your skin tone and brighten up your complexion.

Other notable benefits include wound healing, anti-inflammatory properties, improved collagen synthesis and elasticity. Antioxidants also boost hydration and diminish fine lines and wrinkles.

Most notable antioxidants

Vitamin C

When it comes to antioxidants, vitamin C is the gold standard. It protects the skin against oxidative stress and by neutralizing free radicals. As we get older, our collagen levels deplete and vitamin C is essential for collagen synthesis. It prevents and treats photo-damage and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin C can also be beneficial for people who suffer from acne and rosacea.

Vitamin B3

Vitamin B3 is known as niacin and niacinamide. One of the most notable benefits of using Vitamin B3 in your skincare routine is that it prevents transepidermal water loss and boosts the moisture content of stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin). It also boosts the ceramides synthesis and reduces hyperpigmentation. Vitamin B3 reduces fine lines and improves the skin’s elasticity, which makes it a good antioxidant for more mature skin.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is also known as tocopherol. It is a fat-soluble antioxidant that delivers a number of benefits for the skin. It protects the skin against the effects of UV radiation and scavenges free radicals. A skincare product that combines vitamin C and vitamin E offers effective protection against UV damage and photo-aging.


Extensive scientific data confirms retinol is one of the best skin rejuvenating ingredients. Retinol (also known as vitamin A) boosts collagen production, diminishes fines lines and wrinkles and repairs sun damage. It evens out the skin tone and protects the skin against the effects of environmental stressors. On top of that, it is an effective treatment for acne. Regardless of your skin type, your skincare routine should include a retinol product.

Green Tea

The fuss about green tea is nothing new. It is touted as a powerful ingredient with antioxidant properties that can help with anything from heart health to cancer. Although the outlook is promising, further research is needed to determine the benefits green tea has on human health.

That said – we do know that green tea is rich in polyphenols, potent antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and photoprotective properties. Catechins (also known as Epigallocatechin gallate or EGCG) can help soothe sensitive skin and boost the skin’s immune system.

Do you use antioxidants in your skincare routine? What are your favourites?

Roberta Striga