At the molecular level, antioxidants are simply molecules that prevent and hinder the oxidation process. Oxidation is essentially the first step in decay, because it releases free radicals, which begin to break down cells. This is why antioxidants are often used in food preservation and to keep products like gasoline from degrading. Common antioxidants include Vitamin C, Uric Acid, Vitamin E and Carotenes. While the oxidation process is natural and needed for proper bodily function, having levels of antioxidants that are too low have been shown to produce a condition known as oxidative stress, which has been shown to cause multiple diseases.
So how does this relate to natural skincare? Not only do antioxidants serve as a natural preservative in skincare products, so that they hold effectiveness longer, but antioxidants also have positive effects on the skin. Since the vast majority of skin aging is caused by free radical damage, having proper antioxidant levels can slow down the aging damage occurring in the surface cells of the skin, helping to both heal and prevent wrinkles. There has also been a lot research done that shows that antioxidants are important cancer preventing agents, which is good news for anyone concerned about sun damage.
Natural Antioxidant Sources
In order to avoid oxidative stress, our bodies need to reach a homeostatic balance of antioxidants. This is most naturally achieved through a diet high in antioxidant foods. Beans are a great source of antioxidants, including small red beans, kidney beans and pinto beans. Berries are another great way to get antioxidants into your diet. Add some blueberries, strawberries, cranberries and raspberries into your diet often. Apples, cherries, prunes and plums are other fruits high in antioxidants. Pecans are a great-tasting nut, high in antioxidants, which you can easily add to your baked goods or cooking.
Products With Antioxidants
Eating a diet with lots of antioxidants is a great first step and the body knows how to process those naturally ingested antioxidants very efficiently. But most of the antioxidants are used in the body internally and don’t actually reach the skin. There are several topical antioxidant natural skincare products on the market. These are a great addition to any regime because they not only add the antioxidants, but also increase collagen production, reduce inflammation and fight wrinkles. These products also provide some UVA/UVB protection, although it’s important to note that they do not replace sunscreen, just work as an added benefit.