Demystifying Antioxidants

Simply put, antioxidants take damaged molecules and turn them into healthy molecules. They help prevent tissue damage as a result of aging. In and of themselves they do not repair wrinkles and, while they are important to the repair of photodamage and providing protection, they do not block UVB rays. Ample amounts of antioxidants are required to outpace the aging process. Important antioxidants often come in the form of vitamins; ie, A, C and E, and also betacarotene.

Vitamin A – the benefits are well known to estheticians and skin thereapists in helping to prevent and restore damaged skin. You'll see it listed in your ingredients as retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and retinol, or in the prescription form known as retinoic acid. It is a fat soluble vitamin that is not present in the body but is important to general health and for skin! You can add it through your diet in the form of egg yolks, fish oils, milk, liver and certain vegetables. Every good skin system has a Vitamin A product as they are easily assimilated into the body when applied topically. It can cause irritation or redness however, so it is important when using the prescription form to start slow and monitor your skin as you increase your application.

Vitamin E – another antioxidant that protects collagen from being destroyed by UV rays, and very sensitive to free radicals. It is best used in conjunction with Vitamin C, which reactivates it to its original form, so they are intertwined in their activity and important teams.

Vitamin C – another water-soluble antioxidant and has a few important roles, including its role in reactivating Vitamin E (see above), as well as preventing the oxidation of Vitamin A, and helps prevent the production of melanin, which results in hyperpigmentation. It is a popular vitamin that is utilized by the body for many functions, which can leave the body vulnerable to depletion or deficiency. Therefore, it must be included in your diet, added through supplements and, in the case of skin, provided through topical products. It was quickly realized that the original Vitamin C serums that arrived on the market deteriorated quickly (they actually became "oxidants" instead of antioxidants!) When exposed to light and air. First they tested bottles that pretended light from reaching the product inside, and pumps that would not expose it to air until the time of application. Now there are new delivery systems that prevent them from breaking down prior to use and giving them a longer shelf life.

Resveratrol is a water-soluble antioxidant that has been called a "miracle molecule" that can pass through cell membranes to treat from within the cell, and can also pass through the blood-brain barrier, making it possible to treat the brain where other, larger compounds can not. As a result of the large amount of publicity about the French Paradox Study, researchers investigating the potential positive effects of red wine consumption historically focused on resveratrol, one of the substitutes found in red wine.

Other Antioxidants – look for Selenium (a precursor to Vitamin A), beta-carotene, superoxide dismutase and alpha lipoic acid, all proven effective in the fight against aging.