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How Do Antioxidants Work?

By Celia Shatzman, she/her

Free radicals. The term instills fear in skincare junkies everywhere, since they’re known for wreaking havoc on your complexion and throughout your body. And if you want to safeguard your skin from them (who doesn’t?!), then antioxidants are your complexion’s knight in shining armor. 

I call free radicals the little bulls in the China shop of your skin,” says Jacob Tomás del Rosario, Senior Regional Sales + Education Executive at Youth To The People. “When you are exposed to daily aggressors like excessive sunlight, common pollutants, cigarette smoke, fried food, alcohol, and even your own internal stress, atoms or molecules in your skin become unstable, unpairing the electrons that make them up which causes them to become extremely reactive. This process is often called oxidation. These free radicals essentially make their way through your skin, stealing the electron particles from other cellular structures in your body. This contributes to further destabilization and cellular breakdown.”

Need a visual? Del Rosario compares the process to when you cut open an apple or an avocado it starts to brown and deteriorate, which is partially caused by oxidation, or oxidative damage.  

“This example is a great demonstration of how free radicals can damage the vital parts of cells like proteins and cell membranes,” he says. “Visually, what we will notice is the loss of collagen and elasticity, hyperpigmentation, sensitivity, and overall reduced skin function.”

This is where antioxidants come in to save the day. 

“Antioxidants are free radical scavengers; they are compounds that seek out free radicals in the skin, giving them the missing electrons and therefore neutralizing their toxicity before they can oxidize and damage other cells,” del Rosario says. 

The best antioxidants to look for in skincare products include vitamins C, E, A, B3, and K. Antioxidants are also found in skincare as polyphenols like resveratrol or the compound ECGC in green tea. Another perk of antioxidants is they’re found in so many healthy foods we eat. 

“This is why we often find our muses for new products in superfoods and adaptogens that are known for their medicinal history,” del Rosario says. “Breathing new life into the calls of the adults from your youth to “eat your berries!” and “finish your greens!”” Antioxidants are also impressive skin brighteners.

Technology has come a long way to deliver new methods for getting a needed dose of antioxidants in skincare, making it more stable and effective than ever before. Take vitamin C, for example.

“Derivatives of traditional raw forms of vitamin C, like L-ascorbic acid, can harness the power of that ingredient while stabilizing its chemical structure,” del Rosario says. “Newer derivatives like Ethyl Ascorbic Acid and Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate remain nonvolatile when exposed to light and air, activating to its fullest potential only once applied to the skin.” 

The more often you apply skincare products with antioxidants, the better the results will be. Formulation also makes a major difference.

“Some products with higher potencies and innovative delivery systems are safe to be used twice a day, but truly only need to be applied once,” del Rosario says. “Generally, antioxidants are worth exposing your skin to in every step of your routine if possible. With that said, ensuring that the leave-on products in your routine, such as serums and moisturizers, contain a healthy dose of antioxidants is best. My suggestion would be to always follow the manufacturer's instructions, not only for best results but to ensure you’re getting the most out of your investment.”

Youth To The People’s new 15% Vitamin C + Clean Caffeine Energy Serum checks off all the boxes, as it’s innovative, super stable, and chock full of potent derivatives of the top antioxidants.

“The 15% cocktail of vitamin C is made up of the following three derivatives, the first being Ethyl Ascorbic Acid, which is considered the next generation vitamin C derivative,” del Rosario says. “It’s super effective at boosting collagen synthesis and scavenging for those free radicals. Then there’s THD Ascorbate, which penetrates faster and deeper than any vitamin C. Studies have shown that it not only penetrates the epidermis (the uppermost layer of skin) but also the dermis (the deepest layer of skin). Finally, we have Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, or MAP, which is water soluble and both light- and oxygen-stable. Additionally, the clean caffeine blend of yerba mate and guayusa tea leaves adds a super dose of antioxidant caffeine, reduces puffiness, and accelerates the benefits of vitamin C.”

Other free radical fighters include the proprietary blend of antioxidants in Youth To The People’s entire line of Superfood products like the Superfood Cleanser and Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream. Then there’s the antioxidant powerhouse adaptogens like reishi mushroom in the Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream and Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist, as well as the antioxidant cocktail in the Superberry family of products, which includes açaí and goji among the most antioxidant dense fruit in the world, maqui. Find them in the Dream Mask, Dream Eye Cream, and Dream Oil.

Written by Celia Shatzman for Youth To The People




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