Every minute, your body is producing free radicals which eventually leads to oxidative stress, DNA damage, and cell death. In defense of free radicals, we do need to keep some around for their primary job: fighting bodily infections. But most of us aren’t hurting for spare free radicals because they’re stimulated by just about everything: air pollution, alcohol, sugar intake, sunbathing, and exercise.
Enter topical antioxidants, which help our skin fight premature aging by eating up free radicals before they damage the skin in the form of wrinkles, loose skin, and blotchy tone. Antioxidants can also help the skin rejuvenate and even prevent sunburn (by stopping free radicals initiated by UV light). While antioxidants are mainly preventative, the old adage holds true: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The rich red color of is naturally derived from the source of pycnogenol: the red bark of French maritime pine trees. Through a hearty mix of bioflavonoids and procyanidins, pycnogenol scavenges free radicals, enhances elasticity, and increases hydration. It also selectively binds to collagen and elastin, preventing these skin-supporting molecules from degrading. And yet another unique feature is its ability to recycle oxidized vitamin C, giving you extra antioxidant power from your vitamin C serums. The only drawback is its rich red color will definitely stain fabric—make sure to wash your hands after application.
Both an antioxidant and an acid, vitamin C is a skin brightening and tone evening powerhouse. Now what does skin “brightening” mean, exactly? The first meaning is lightening hyperpigmented spots (red acne marks). The second is sloughing away dead and dull upper skin layers. We like this Perricone MD product because it uses an ester form of vitamin C that packs a punch without irritating the skin.
Easily one of the most unique antioxidant products on the market, EUK 134 is a molecule that specifically scavenges reactive superoxide free radicals (such as hydrogen peroxide). This makes it very effective for sunburn prevention and UV radiation protection. What’s exceptional about EUK 134 is that it’s the Wolverine of antioxidants: it regrows and regenerates on its own, so it will keep providing antioxidant support until it’s completely removed from the skin. The liquid has a natural tan color that provides a little bit of a bronzing glow to the skin. The only downside is that EUK 134 conflicts with almost every other skin active—you can’t use it with acids, retinoids, or most other antioxidants. It’s a one-trick pony that doesn’t play well with others, but it’s definitely worth its own day in your skin care routine.
Most often associated with red wine grapes, this resveratrol is sourced from Japanese knotweed and combined with potent ferulic acid. Resveratrol is an anti-inflammatory polyphenol that serves as the “front line” of antioxidant defense. Ferulic acid is a phytochemical that neutralizes free radicals from ultraviolet light, infrared radiation, and pollution. It is less stable than resveratrol and should be kept in an opaque container away from heat and light.