antioxidants skin benefits

Here’s Why You Need Antioxidants in Your Summer Skin-Care Routine

Always. Use. Protection.

By: Isabella Sarlija

The arrival of summer brings with it many things—breathable linen clothing, pale ales on rooftops, and hours of revitalizing sunlight. We’re here to talk to you about that last part—sunlight. We understand that for our skin to thrive, we must protect it from UVA and UVB rays with copious amounts of daily SPF. In addition to the damaging effects of the sun, there are other detrimental things in our environment to consider for our skin’s safety, like free radicals. So how do we keep our skin healthy? By using skin-care items that contain antioxidants.

To learn more about the function of antioxidants in skin care, we asked three experts for their advice: board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical NYC Dr. Morgan Rabach, Dr. Lily Talakoub of McLean Skin Dermatology, and Dr. Hadley King, a board-certified dermatologist and Clinical Instructor of Dermatology at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

According to a study published in the Pharmacognosy Review, “A free radical can be defined as any molecular species capable of independent existence that contains an unpaired electron in an atomic orbital.” That extra unpaired electron is where the real danger lies. Dr. King explains, “Electrons like to be in pairs, so these unstable atoms scavenge the body to seek out other electrons so they can become a pair.” When we encounter free radicals, through the suns rays, pollution, and more, they bind to the electrons on our skin, causing oxidation to occur. Oxidation in turn causes signs of premature aging, like fine lines, discoloration, and destruction of the vital proteins that give skin its support (meaning you’ll experience more skin sagging). Just think of an apple you cut in half and leave out for a few hours—the brown spots that form are evidence of oxidation.

Says Dr. Rabach, “Antioxidants work at the molecular level to bind to free radicals and stop them from damaging the skin, but this has a lot of implications. Antioxidants reduce inflammation, meaning they can help reduce redness in acne and rosacea.”

In addition to protecting our skin, Dr. Talakoub explains that “[antioxidants] prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which leads to sagging and wrinkling of the skin. They also help prevent the formation of sunspots.” Given that UV rays are more intense during the summer, free radicals are at their peak, which is why all three dermatologists agree that it is crucial to use products that contain antioxidants during the summertime.

And while it seems simple enough to buy a product with the word “antioxidant” slapped across its label, there are some specific ingredients to look for when purchasing a new cream or serum. All three dermatologists agree that the most powerful sources of antioxidants are vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin A. Dr. Talakoub also lists “resveratrol [and] niacinamide” as excellent options, and Dr. King adds “ferulic acid, coffee berry extract, marula oil, argan oil, coconut oil, [and] trehalose” to the list of the protective antioxidant-rich ingredients.

Here are some of their antioxidant product recommendations and our favorites.


iS Clinical Pro-heal Serum Advance Plus, $155

This retinol serum is great for people who suffer from redness, rosacea, or sensitive skin. The kojic acid works to lighten dark spots, while vitamins A, C, and E work to heal, exfoliate, nourish, and protect the skin.

RoC Retinol Correction Deep Wrinkle Anti-aging Retinol Night Cream, $16

You may be wondering, If antioxidants are meant to protect the skin from UV damage and free radicals during the day, then why should I use antioxidants during my nighttime routine? Applying antioxidants at night can help the skin to protect itself the next day, as our bodies hold on to and store antioxidants for future use. This night cream is extremely nourishing and  contains retinol, which helps to fade hyperpigmentation and sunspots.

SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, $166

Both Dr. Rabach and Dr. Talakoub recommend this product, which should be enough of a push for us to try it. The blend of vitamin C, vitamin E, and ferulic acid make it one of the best protective products on the market. Skin is left looking glowy while also feeling balanced and well-nourished.

Hanskin Hyaluron Moisture Cream, $30

With antioxidants niacinamide and hibiscus extracts as top ingredients, this cream works to brighten areas of hyperpigmentation while significantly minimizing the appearance of pores. The addition of sodium hyaluronate provides moisture that gently penetrates the skin without ever making it feel too slick. This is the perfect daytime moisturizer for people with oily skin.

The Jojoba Company Hydrating Day Cream, $33

In recent years, jojoba oil has increased in popularity, and rightfully so. It works well to moisturize the skin because it so closely resembles the consistency of the natural sebum that our bodies produce. As the jojoba oil in this day cream works to moisturize the skin, ingredients like pomegranate provide ample antioxidant protection.

GoodJanes Face Latte Face Serum, $43

A product that truly is as revitalizing as a latte. There are many antioxidant-rich ingredients in this bottle: vitamins C and E, green tea extract, apple stem-cell extract, and echinacea stem-cell extract, to name a few. While the antioxidants work together to clear skin and protect it from free radicals, jojoba oil works to protect the skin’s barrier through moisturization.

Jacq’s Nourishing Lightweight Face Moisturizer, $28

This product almost seems too good to be true. With ingredients like yucca, vitamin C, and vitamin E, this hydrating moisturizer works to add an intense glow to the skin while gently promoting new cell turnover. It feels luxuriously soft on the skin, making it perfect for the summertime.

Vintner’s Daughter Active Treatment Essence, $225

If you have not incorporated an essence into your skin-care routine just yet, consider this formula by Vintner’s Daughter. The essence contains epigallocatechin gallate, which has antioxidants that work to brighten dull skin and calm any redness or irritation. Tannins work to balance sebum levels while providing protection against free radicals through high levels of antioxidants. This product also contains fermented ingredients, which work to repair the acid mantle of the skin, making it an all-around good-for-you product to start off your skin-care routine.

Dr. Loretta Urban Antioxidant Sunscreen SPF 40, $50

When searching for a product that provides loads of protection from the sun, an antioxidant-filled sunscreen seems like a no-brainer. This sunscreen protects from UVA and UVB rays, blue light, free radicals, and pollution, all while maintaining a lightweight formula that effortlessly glides onto the skin.

Hyper Clear Brightening Clearing Vitamin C Serum, $36

Vitamin C, vitamin E, bearberry, turmeric, basil, and kojic acid all come together in this gorgeous bottle to fade dark spots and protect the skin from environmental stressors. Thanks to the balancing and hydrating nature of these antioxidant-filled ingredients, skin glows within minutes of application.

Plant Apothecary Ground Control Organic Body Oil, $48

We must not forget that the skin on our bodies also needs the love and protection that antioxidants provide. This body oil is filled with jojoba and vitamin E, both of which contain potent antioxidants that help to protect the skin against free radicals. In addition to being incredibly nourishing, it also smells of heavenly bergamot and rosemary.

Maelove The Glow Maker Antioxidant Serum, $28

At just $28, this product truly is one of the biggest bangs for your buck. If you’re looking for a vitamin C serum that provides protection from environmental stressors while adding an insane amount of glow to your skin, then this is the product for you. Vitamins C and E and ferulic acid protect the skin, while hyaluronic acid drenches the skin with hydration, making it radiant and supple all day long.

Whal Myung Anti-oxidant Rejuvenating Serum, $48

An ideal formula for people looking to add a lightweight yet extremely effective antioxidant serum to their routines. The red ginseng in this serum contains saponin compounds that work to brighten hyperpigmentation and repair the skin’s barrier. It absorbs quickly into the skin, making it perfect for layering into a more robust routine.

Bathing Culture Outer Being Face & Body Oil, $82

This product was originally designed to guard the skin from the harsh environmental stressors along the West Coast. Packed in what looks like liquid gold are plant-derived vitamins C and E, essential fatty acids, amino acids, and antioxidants that help to nourish, protect, balance, and restore the skin. The rich floral and peppery scents also revitalize you just as much as it reinvigorates your skin.

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