Antioxidants and Your Skin Health

On Jun 7, 2014

For years we have been hearing about the multiple health benefits of antioxidants. But did you know that antioxidants may also improve your skin health?  There has been extensive research on this very topic and this article will highlight those reasons why we should intake more antioxidants via your diet and your skin care routine.


What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that reduce damage done to your cells from reactive oxygen species, such as free radicals. Free radicals are a form of oxygen that can be very toxic to cells and lead to cell damage and cell death. A few well known antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and beta carotene are capable of counteracting the damaging effects of oxidation. They are commonly added to foods such as vegetable oils and prepared foods to prevent or delay their deterioration from the action of air.  Foods found in the Mediterranean diet such as olive oil, fruits, vegetables and nuts provides more antioxidants compared to a diet based largely on processed foods.


Antioxidants in Your Skin Care Products can Fight the Signs of Aging.

Did you know that one of the key benefits of adding antioxidants to your skin care routine is successfully treating the signs of aging?  Advances in plant stem cell technology provide a new way to extract antioxidants from plants in their purest and most stable form; which provides an advantage to help fight the signs of aging.  Doris Day, MD, FAAD, a board-certified dermatologist and clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the New York University Langone Medical Center in New York, N.Y, says that  there are a number of botanical antioxidants being used as ingredients in skin care products to improve the appearance of aging skin.


The cosmeceutical industry devotes a lot of resources to searching for plants with the best antioxidants. A few popular antioxidants such as soy and berry extracts share anti-aging skin

Wild Berries: Source:  Wikimedia: Ragesoss

properties.  Berry extracts from raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries have become an area of intense research in the cosmetic industry because they contain high levels of anthocyanins, a new category of strong antioxidants with anti-inflammatory abilities. Wild berries typically contain higher levels of the active ingredients than berries grown on farms.   


Soybeans are a rich source of isoflavones, which function as phytoestrogens (a group of chemicals found in plants that can act like the hormone estrogen). Phytoestrogens in cosmeceuticals may be beneficial since topical application of estrogens have been found to increase skin thickness and promote collagen production.  There have been studies on how phytoestrogens  promotes collagen production using soy in particular. One study  in particular tested four different formulas in terms of their capacity to stimulate de novo collagen synthesis. The results of this study show that the pronounced collagen stimulation of soy is the result of isoflavones genistein and daidzein and other ingredients in soy, such as saponins.


What do Plant Stem Cells Have to do With Your Skin?


Scientists have noted that plants have evolved over time to protect themselves from the damaging effects of oxidation (the main cause of skin aging in humans), which occurs following sun exposure, and they are trying to apply this concept to skin care products. Currently, the antioxidants found in certain plants are included in many anti-aging skin care products, but the plant materials are taken from plants that are grown outdoors and, as a result, can contain contaminants such as pesticides, heavy metals and fungal toxins. New research is focusing on how to use plant stem cells to eliminate the contaminants from the plant and control the concentration of ingredients in the plant. The stem cells can be taken from the berries, leaves, stems, twigs or roots, but the leaves are most commonly used because of their high level of antioxidants.


Recommendations on How to Add Antioxidants to Your Daily Routine

Here is something to consider;  you could be already eating  some of the recommended antioxidant rich foods and not even know it. For example, strawberries and cranberries are among the top fruit sources of antioxidants and are found in most supermarkets.  Green tea is another popular beverage that contains  high levels of antioxidants. Green tea contains a number of powerful polyphenols, including large quantities of epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Skin care products containing green tea extracts can deliver the antioxidant ingredients of green tea directly to your skin. Jennifer Linder, MD, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of California at San Francisco says that research has shown that when EGCG is applied to your skin before or immediately after UV exposure, it helps correct cellular changes caused by damaging UV rays. Linder adds that it can also quench hydrogen peroxide free radicals.  


Other foods that contain antioxidants include sweet potatoes and red russet potatoes.

Fruits containing antioxidants: Source:  Wikimedia: Penny Greb

It is important to leave the potato skins on to obtain the true benefits that sweet and russet potatoes have to offer.  Tree nuts such as walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts and almonds are some of the top nuts for antioxidant content.


In conclusion, adding antioxidants in your daily routine can improve your overall skin health.  Choosing skin care products that contain antioxidant rich compounds such as green tea extract, raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries can aid in the skin aging process. Adding foods such as sweet potatoes, pistachios and cranberries can assist in your skin health too. As research continues, we will find out more information on how antioxidants can assist in our skin health.


Katherine Giesen is a freelance multimedia writer and editor and currently is one of the assistant editor interns at Central Skin. She was born and raised in South Jersey and studied broadcast journalism in Florida. In addition to her interests in skin health, Katherine has a background in the culinary arts. Through her passions and interest, she wants to enrich the lives of others.




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