9 things you should really know about antioxidants

By: Denise Wild

Author: Canadian Living


9 things you should really know about antioxidants

By: Denise Wild

Great news. There is a no-fail formula for perfect skin: correction plus prevention. To work both into your daily skin-care regime, you've got to find products with ingredients that correct existing damage and prevent any future damage from happening. Enter antioxidants, super skin agents. You've seen them touted to no end in the world of beauty (at cosmetics counters, drugstores and salons), but there are things you still may not know about them.

1. Antioxidants aren't ingredients
An antioxidant isn't a specific vitamin or ingredient. The antioxidant label is given to a vitamin or ingredient based on its behaviour: antioxidants neutralize free radicals. Ingredients with antioxidant capabilities include vitamins A, C, and E, beta-carotene, selenium, kinetin, soy and zinc. (Read about the top 10 power plant foods.)

2. Antioxidants counteract free radical damage
Free radicals are unstable, reactive particles in the environment (created by UV rays, smoke and pollution, among other things) that cause damage to the skin, explains dermatologist Dr. Paul Cohen of Toronto's Rosedale Dermatology Centre. Free radicals are responsible for environmental aging, as they attack the skin's collagen and elastin. Antioxidants both prevent and counteract this damage by neutralizing the unstable particles, says Dr. Cohen.

3. Antioxidants protect you against skin cancer
When antioxidants neutralize unstable free radicals, they're preventing cellular damage in your skin. This damage, which occurs to the cells' structure and composition, can accumulate over time, explains Dr. Cohen, and can eventually lead to diseases such as skin cancer.

4. Some antioxidants treat fine lines
Vitamins C and A not only counteract free radicals, they also stimulate cell turnover and collagen production, Dr. Cohen says, helping to minimize fine lines and reduce pigmentation. He recommends La Roche-Posay Active C Anti-Wrinkle Dermatological Treatment, available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

5. Antioxidants can help rosacea-prone skin
Antioxidants that stimulate collagen, including vitamin C, also help stabilize skin that is prone to rosacea. With regular use, explains Dr. Cohen, these antioxidants build the tissue around your blood vessels. The blood vessels are then not as noticeably reactive and your skin won't get red and flushed so easily. Try La Roche-Posay Rosaliac Skin Perfecting Anti-Redness Moisturizer, available at Shoppers Drug Mart.

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6. Antioxidants can protect your skin from the sun
In addition to combating free radicals, vitamin C and green tea also protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays. But don't forgo sunscreen, as the protection these antioxidants offer against UV rays is minimal. Pair your antioxidant skin cream with a sunscreen or look for a product that incorporates both, such as Olay Complete All Day with vitamin C and SPF 15, available at mass market retailers or at

7. Antioxidants are compatible with other skin-care products
Antioxidants are skin-care-regime-friendly and can be combined safely with other creams, including acne-specific products and sun-protection products, says Dr. Cohen. Not only is Garnier Pure Shine Control Moisturizer suitable for acne-prone skin, it also contains the antioxidant zinc. Find it at mass-market retailers or visit

8. It's best to feed your skin antioxidants topically
Your body only assigns a small percentage of the vitamins and nutrients you consume to your skin. So you'll see the most benefits when you apply antioxidants directly to your skin, says Dr. Cohen.

9. The cosmetic world continues to introduce new antioxidants
Canadian skin-care company Canderm Pharma Inc. has jumped on EUK-134, which regenerates itself, prolonging its antioxidant effects. Canderm paired EUK-134 with a sunscreen for supreme anti-aging: NeoStrata SunShield Oil Free Sunblock Lotion for Face SPF 30, available at Shoppers Drug Mart or visit

Idebenone, a new antioxidant that boasts a potency greater than coenzyme Q-10 and vitamins C and E, is the star ingredient in pharmaceutical company Allergan's anti-aging cream: Elizabeth Arden Allergan Prevage, available at The Bay and Shoppers Drug Mart or visit

Treat yourself right, and younger-looking skin can be yours. Just protect it from the sun, smoke and pollution, and treat any problems (such as fine lines, acne and pigmentation) with the right products. Oh, and arm yourself with knowledge. Beautiful!

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9 things you should really know about antioxidants