So what’s up with antioxidants? You’ve probably seen the word all over kombucha bottles, salad mixes, dietary supplements, and of course, your skincare products. We know they’re good for you, but what exactly do they do for your body? Well don’t sweat, cause we’ve got you covered on all things antioxidant. We’ll guide you through what free radical damage is, how antioxidants fight against it, and give you some tips on how to use antioxidants in your skincare routine.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are molecules with unpaired electrons that are unstable and highly reactive. Environmental factors like UV exposure, pollution and cigarette smoke are the main cause of free radicals in your body. Free radical damage, also called oxidative stress, is caused when too many of the molecules build up and trigger chain reactions that attack DNA, proteins, and lipids—this damage is one of the major ways your skin ages. Signs of free radical damage include wrinkles, fine lines, fragile skin, mottled pigmentation, and inflammation. Free radicals can also break down collagen, which is not so fun. But don’t worry, antioxidants are here to help!
What are antioxidants?
Antioxidants are any molecule that fights free radicals. They work as a shield to block free radicals from causing any damage. There are lots of different antioxidants, and most of them have very long and hard to pronounce names. Antioxidants are most commonly found in brightly colored, plant-based foods (think: berries and dark leafy greens), although there are lots of surprising sources for antioxidants.
Superfoods and antioxidants in your diet
There’s been a lot of buzz about superfoods in the media in the last few years. You’ve probably seen foods like kale, acai berries, avocado, and beetroot all have their moment being hyped up—it can seem like a new superfood pops up every month! Superfoods are labeled as such because of their high nutrient content, and often have very high levels of antioxidants. While superfoods are in fact, super good for you, a lot of antioxidants do get destroyed in the digestion process or don’t go to the area where free radicals are prevalent. Now, we’re not saying you shouldn’t eat superfoods! There are tons of benefits to eating them, but it’s important to remember that variety is better than concentration (a.k.a. you should eat lots of different superfoods as opposed to eating a lot of one superfood). Think “superplate” over “superfood!”
Fun fact: Did you know that dark chocolate is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods you can eat? The higher the percentage of cacao, the more antioxidants it contains. Some dark chocolate has more antioxidants than blueberries! Pass us the dark chocolate cake, please.
How do antioxidants help your skin?
While having antioxidants in your diet is important, skincare is actually one of the most effective ways to fight free radical damage! Because most free radicals occur from external factors, your skin is going to have higher levels of free radicals than any other part of your body. “Free radicals form in your skin within 15 minutes of exposure to UV, and continues for up to an hour afterwards” says Michelle, a chemist, from Lab Muffin. Antioxidants have to be in the same place the free radicals are to fight them, so applying them topically ensures they get to where they need to be.
Best antioxidant ingredients in skincare:
- Vitamin C: this is often listed as “ascorbic acid” on ingredient lists
- Vitamin E: also called tocopherol
- Green Tea Polyphenols
- Niacinamide: scientifically known as vitamin B3
Helpful tip: When looking for skincare products with antioxidants, there’s strength in numbers! Antioxidants are synergistic, so they work really well together.
So which KraveBeauty products contain antioxidants?
Helpful tip: Antioxidants are highly perishable, and will break down if left in direct sunlight for too long! Make sure all your antioxidant products are kept in opaque containers and are stored in cool, shady areas. Also make sure to use them within their expiration date.
We hope this helped answer some of your questions about antioxidants. If you can’t tell, we think they’re pretty great! What are your favorite products with antioxidants? Drop them in the comments below!