Antioxidants play an essential role in every effective skincare routine. Antioxidants for the skin help slow the signs of ageing by fighting free radical damage while also addressing a range of skin concerns - from hyperpigmentation and fine lines to dry skin and acne.
Let’s take a look at what antioxidants do for skin, their relationship with free-radicals and how to include the right ones in your skincare routine.
Antioxidants & Free-Radical Damage
To understand the work antioxidants do for skin, it’s important to first know how free radicals damage the skin and speed up signs of ageing.
To explain free radicals and antioxidants, we’ll need to cover a quick chemistry lesson on the ‘free radical theory of ageing.’
All your skin cells are made up of molecules and each molecule contains pairs of electrons. When there are even pairs of electrons in each molecule, the skin cell is healthy and stable.
The way free radicals cause damage to the skin is by ‘stealing’ an electron from one of the pairs of electrons in a healthy cell.
This causes damage to the skin’s DNA and over time, the process of free radicals grabbing electrons from healthy cells leads to weakened cells and tissues.
In turn, this triggers the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, sagging, and inflammation throughout your body.
How do free radicals occur? They’re the product of UV rays, pollution, lifestyle choices (like smoking) and some are also created naturally by the body.
Now that we know a little more about how free radical damage occurs, let’s look at how antioxidants for the skin help.
Essentially, antioxidants neutralise free radical damage by ‘giving’ an electron to the free radical so it doesn’t need to steal it from a healthy cell.
This means they play a very important preventative role in healthy skincare routines - especially to slow down the premature signs of ageing.
What are the best antioxidants for skin?
In addition to their free-radical fighting powers, antioxidants offer a whole spectrum of benefits to treat individual skin concerns.
Let’s take a look at some of the best antioxidants for the skin and ingredients containing these powerhouses to include in your routine.
Anti-aging | balances oil | promotes collagen | skin renewal | smoothing
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin also known as retinal, retinol, retinoic acid, and beta-carotene.
On the anti-ageing front, it’s one of the best antioxidants for the skin and revered for its youth-restoring properties.
Speeding up cell turnover, Vitamin A causes the dermis to thicken creating plumper, firmer skin and a brighter complexion.
This is one of the antioxidants for the skin that can actually create DNA change in the cells making it incredibly effective for treating a range of skin conditions.
After working on the surface of the skin, Vitamin A can penetrate into the cell to correct the damage and keep the cell healthy.
This allows Vitamin A to tackle problems from hyperpigmentation, acne, and large pores, to lines and wrinkles.
esmi Anti-Ageing Eye Serum is a lightweight serum that lifts and tightens, reduces wrinkle depth and moisturises the eye area. Contains retinyl palmitate.
Vitamin B3 (niacinamide)
Hydrating | anti-ageing | reduces acne | strengthens the skin barrier | brightens
Vitamin B3 (also known as niacinamide) is a great antioxidant all-rounder.
All skin types can benefit from its anti-aging, brightening, and hydrating properties. This antioxidant fights acne, helping reduce redness, inflammation and balance the skin’s pH level.
It also slows signs of premature ageing, improves the look of hyperpigmentation and brightens skin.
Vitamin B3’s ability to strengthen the skin barrier (also known as the acid mantle) makes it an antioxidant that sensitive and dehydrated complexions will love.
A strong barrier means the skin is protected from irritants and excessive transepidermal water loss (water evaporating from the surface) is prevented.
esmi Hyaluronic Hydrating Serum contains Vitamin B3 (niacinamide) and is the ultimate skin hydrator. A quick-absorbing serum to fight dehydration for more hydrated, plumper, repaired skin.
esmi Liquid Foundation is a healthy, maximum coverage liquid mineral foundation formulated with vitamin B3 to heal and hydrate.
Skin brightening | cell regeneration | hydrating
One of the most potent antioxidants for the skin is Vitamin C.
It aids your skin's natural regeneration process, is renowned for its skin brightening properties and helps repair damaged skin cells. It does a wonderful job of addressing dull skin, uneven skin tone, and hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin C comes in many forms and can be derived from a variety of ingredients. Some of the more common sources of Vitamin C found in skincare products include:
Ascorbic acid is water-soluble and it’s primarily used in skincare for its ability to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation. It does this by suppressing the formation of melanin which inhibits the appearance of pigmentation.
One of the best antioxidant sources from nature, the Kakadu Plum is an Australian native fruit with the world’s highest natural levels of Vitamin C - even higher than the blueberry.
The extract of the Kakadu Plum is superb for skin brightening.
As the name suggests, citric acid is derived from citrus fruits. This alpha-hydroxy acid encourages cell turnover to exfoliate skin resulting in a brighter, smoother appearance.
esmi Pomegranate Brightening Serum is an anti-pigmentation serum with powerful melanin inhibitors and skin lightening ingredients including Kakadu Plum, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), and pomegranate extract.
Moisturising | strengthens skin barrier | soothing and anti-inflammatory
In addition to its ability to fight free radical damage, Vitamin E is known for its hydrating and healing properties.
It helps strengthen the skin barrier and can improve and calm a range of inflammatory skin conditions - such as eczema and psoriasis - as it is a natural anti-inflammatory.
Vitamin E and vitamin C make an excellent pair in skincare formulations.
Vitamin C regenerates vitamin E and in combination with each other, they provide photoprotection from sunlight. This is why it’s common to find antioxidant serums which contain both.
esmi Peppermint Green Oil is a rich source of free-radical fighting vitamin E and can be used as an alternative to a moisturiser.
esmi Golden Anti-Ageing Serum is a rejuvenating anti-ageing serum with powerful peptides and the antioxidant power of vitamin C + E to visibly plump fine lines, brighten and condition.
Omega Fatty Acids
Anti-ageing | firming | hydrating
There are three types of omega fatty acids: omega 3, omega 6 and omega 9.
The antioxidants in these omega fatty acids are some of the most effective antioxidants for your face to slow the signs of ageing. They provide firming, toning, and strengthening benefits and help keep skin hydrated.
If you want to address premature ageing like fine lines and wrinkles and hydration issues, omega fatty acids are essential antioxidants for your skincare routine.
When choosing antioxidant products for skin, omega-centric ingredients include:
Linoleic acid is rich in omega 3 fatty acid and is an essential building block for ceramides. Ceramides help skin retain moisture and strengthen its protective barrier keeping skin firm and plump looking.
Rosehip oil is an excellent skin repairer, brimming with tissue and cell regeneration fatty acids Omega 3 and Omega 6. It promotes collagen and elastin levels in the skin to increase firmness and slow the signs of premature aging.
Oleic acid is the most common omega-9 fatty acids and is contained in olive, avocado, and macadamia oil.
Its antioxidant properties are ideal for dry, ageing skin as it penetrates deeply into the skin's surface to replenish lost moisture.
esmi 24K Gold Nourishing Oil is recommended to improve skin elasticity and collagen levels for a firmer, more toned complexion.
Antioxidants tend to work in synergy with each other - especially vitamin C and E as noted earlier. Look for skincare formulations that contain two or more powerful antioxidants for the skin to really supercharge your skincare routine!