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Antioxidants in Natural Skin Care

By: Szilvia Hickman
Posted: October 31, 2012, from the November 2012 issue of Skin Inc. magazine.

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In addition to helping fortify cells against free radicals, vitamins A and C also encourage cell and tissue growth, helping the body to repair itself. Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that plays a major role in many physical functions, including collagen production, immune function, cell growth and cancer prevention. One of the most potent natural sources of vitamin C is rose hips, and carrots are a primary source for vitamin A.

Topical care

Antioxidants can come from healthy eating, but only a small percentage of consumed antioxidants actually reach the skin, because they primarily act internally in the body. However, products containing antioxidants can be used to directly affect the skin.4 Antioxidants can be found in everything from masks, moisturizers and cleansers to anti-wrinkle and anti-aging creams, serums and lotions. Topical applications should contain a potent assortment of stable antioxidants to interrupt free-radical damage. Effective antioxidants for the skin range from green tea, grape extract or vitamin C to idebenone, epigallocatechin-3-gallate or superoxide dismutase. Certain phytochemicals, such as lycopenes and anthocyanins, and zoochemicals, such as conjugated linoleic acid, are called non-nutrient antioxidants. Selenium, copper and zinc are some of the most common antioxidant minerals. They can be absorbed by plants and can appear as micronutrients in botanical ingredients grown in rich soils that are used in skin care products. Antioxidant enzymes include catalase, superoxide dismutase and various peroxidases. The more the better—the skin does better with a cocktail of effective antioxidants.

Although most antioxidants can be used as a single agent, studies have shown that they work best as a team.5 Take a look at nature, for example, and you’ll see that plants, including fruits and vegetables, contain many different phytonutrients—the source of antioxidants. These phytonutrients serve various functions in plants—some protect the plant from UV radiation while others protect it from insects—all of which work together to protect the plant’s vitality. This reinforces the idea that antioxidants are designed by nature to work together.

At the spa

For clients who want a natural approach to smooth, healthy skin, incorporate antioxidants into their skin care routine for a positive effect. Vitamins A, C and E and the mineral selenium—a nutrient that functions as cofactor for the reduction of antioxidant enzymes—are believed to be particularly helpful in skin care. Selenium is the only mineral that functions as an antioxidant. Skin care products containing selenium help improve the skin’s elasticity, fight acne, prevent free radicals from damaging collagen and elastin in the skin, and reduce the effects of aging.

Coenzyme Q10 is an antioxidant enzyme that helps to protect cells from damage. CoQ10 is needed to create energy in a cell and, as cells age and are damaged, levels of CoQ10 decrease, as well. Studies have shown that CoQ10 can penetrate the skin, reduce wrinkle depth and prevent sun damage.6

Much Needed Information on Formulating for Antioxidant Claims

Antioxidants in the Skin by Roger McMullen is the first book to offer a comprehensive account of antioxidants in personal care and addresses the cellular level of human skin.

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