Antioxidants and Skin Health – Frequently Asked Questions

October 24, 2019

Woman applying antioxidants

Many dermatologists and medical professionals recommend antioxidants. From antioxidant-rich superfoods to age-defying serums, it seems like antioxidants are the go-to treatment for just about anything life can throw at you and your skin. In this blog, Dr. Jennifer Sawaya of Southwest Skin Specialists in Scottsdale, Arizona, answers some of the questions that our dermatologists hear most often about antioxidants. Keep reading to learn more about the role of antioxidants in creating and maintaining healthy skin and don’t hesitate to reach out to Dr. Sawaya to learn more if you live in the Scottsdale area.

What are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are substances that prevent the damage caused by oxidation. Even if you’re not familiar with the term oxidation, you may be familiar with some of the results of this chemical process like rusting metal and rotting food. These negative effects occur when oxygen bonds with the metal or foods on a cellular level, damaging their natural chemical structures.

Both of these examples of oxidation show you the serious, detrimental impact oxidation can have. Oxidants negatively affect your skin and whole-body health in much the same way they create rust damage on metal and speed up the breakdown of foods. When oxygen bonds with cells in the body, electrons are lost. This increases and accelerates signs of aging such as the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This can also lead to cellular degradation and damage that may increase your risk for skin cancer and other health concerns. Antioxidants, as the name implies, are elements that fight these negative effects of oxidation. By preventing oxygen bonds, antioxidants keep cells on the skin and throughout the whole body healthier.

How do Antioxidants Help the Skin?

There are many benefits to skin health that can be reaped by using topical antioxidant serums and other products as part of your daily skin health routine. For instance, Dr. Sawaya says, “Antioxidants such as vitamin C have been shown to reverse and prevent DNA damage in the skin caused by exposure to the environment. This extends not only to UV radiation (sunlight), but to damage from pollutants in our atmosphere as well. In addition, antioxidants have been shown to brighten tone, reduce fine lines, and firm the skin through enhanced collagen production.” Dr. Sawaya went on to say that when patients find the right antioxidant-rich skincare products, “We believe that these products not only serve cosmetic purposes but also provide preventive benefits for our patients’ skin. When we reverse and prevent damage to the cells in our skin, we reduce the risk of skin cancer.”

Are Antioxidants Good for Acne?

Blackheads are one of the negative effects of oxidation. By preventing oxidation using an antioxidant, you may reduce the number of blackheads in both acne-prone and non-acne-prone skin. Additionally, Dr. Sawaya had this to say about the use of antioxidants as part of your acne treatment plan, “Although studies have not supported the use of antioxidants for acne, it is possible they may help with the inflammation of the skin associated with acne. We do not usually recommend topical antioxidants for acne specifically, but it may be recommended as part of a general skin health routine.”

Are Antioxidants Good for Delaying Aging?

One of the biggest skin concerns associated with oxidation is accelerated aging. But, do antioxidants actually delay these effects? According to Dr. Sawaya, that answer is pretty straightforward, “Yes. Antioxidant serums help neutralize free radicals induced by UVA/UVB, infrared radiation, and ozone pollution, which all visibly accelerate skin aging.” To keep skin looking more youthful for years to come, we recommend incorporating an antioxidant treatment into your daily skincare routine.

If I Eat Antioxidant-Rich Foods do I Need to Use Topical Antioxidants?

Antioxidant-rich foods like spinach and blueberries are great for your whole-body health and making these foods part of your diet may have benefits for your skin’s health and appearance as well. However, Dr. Sawaya says, “The concentrations of antioxidants used in cosmeceuticals for skin application are much higher than the concentration from absorption of dietary antioxidants. This is why we recommend topical application. That said, it is never a bad idea to eat a healthy diet rich in antioxidants!”

How Frequently Should I Use Antioxidants?

According to Dr. Sawaya, “We recommend daily use, typically in the morning.” When applied daily, antioxidants not only repair damage to the skin from exposure to sunlight, pollutants, and chemicals, but antioxidants can also prevent skin damage before it ever occurs, keeping your skin looking and feeling healthy and youthful. Many skincare products contain antioxidants as one of their essential ingredients. Before we recommend adding an antioxidant treatment to your skincare routine, we’ll want to review all of your current products to ensure they work well together and are the best options for your skin type.

What Products do You Recommend?

Dr. Sawaya says, “As dermatologists, we routinely recommend at-home skincare regimens for our patients. Among our recommendations, we always recommend the introduction of a daily topical antioxidant for our patients. Some of the products I recommend most often include SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, SkinCeuticals Phloretin CF, and SkinBetter Science Alto Defense Serum.” Each of these products promises a range of benefits for skin’s health, beauty, and elasticity, but no product is right for every patient. Every person’s skin is different, so your dermatologist will partner with you to find the right antioxidant product for your unique skin type. If you have sensitive or acne-prone skin, you should always consult with your dermatologist before making changes to your skincare routine.

When Should I Visit U.S. Dermatology Partners?

If you want to learn more about antioxidant products for your skin, get treatment for a chronic skin condition, or improve your overall skin health, U.S. Dermatology Partners is here to help. With an extensive and always growing provider network, there’s a team of dermatology experts near you. Fill out our online appointment request form to get started. One of our knowledgeable local team members will be in touch soon to answer your questions and schedule an appointment for you to come in and see us.

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