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Are Antioxidants Worth the Hype?

By: Ahmed Abdullah, MD
Posted: October 27, 2010, from the November 2010 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

page 4 of 8

Use effective topical antioxidant formulations. Research has shown that combining oral antioxidant supplements with topical antioxidant formulations is beneficial to ensuring the optimal protection of skin from photoaging and oxidative stress.16, 17 However, it’s important that the antioxidant skin care products you make available to your clients utilize formulations that optimize the delivery of antioxidants to the skin. Therefore, ensure that the product is formulated with a base that can be absorbed by the skin. If the base ingredient is water, for example, the ability of the product to take the antioxidants to the deeper layers of the skin is compromised since skin cannot absorb water. The delivery system is also important to ensuring the stability of the antioxidant in the finished formulation.

Prevent future damage

Regardless of the protocol that is utilized, it’s essential to be realistic about what can be expected from antioxidants. Skin damage that has already occurred is irreversible. Antioxidants are incapable of affecting existing wrinkles; their real benefit is in preventing future damage. It’s also important to take factors, such as ORAC values, with a grain of salt. After all, performance in a test tube means nothing really, unless the same benefits can be achieved when a food or product is ingested or placed on the skin.

There’s very promising research relative to antioxidants but, rather than putting a great deal of energy into optimizing antioxidant intake via outside sources, simply living a healthy lifestyle can be the very best medicine.


1. JJ Belch, AB Bridges, N Scott, M Chopra, Oxygen free radicals and congestive heart failure, Br Heart J 65 245–248 (1991)

2. JD Adams Jr, IN Odunze, Oxygen free radicals and Parkinson’s disease, Free Radical Biology and Medicine 10 2 161–169 (1991)