What Do Antioxidants Do For Skin and Why Should You Care?

What Do Antioxidants Do For Skin and Why Should You Care?

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APRIL 30, 2021

Antioxidants are celebrated compounds due to their ability to neutralize reactive oxygen species (ROSs). ROSs are a subset of free radicals that are byproducts of metabolic reactions; they’re known to oxidize unwilling molecules, fostering unstable structural changes in the cell membrane, and DNA. Antioxidants are our first line of defense against these dangerous ROSs. (1) Now that’s an impressive resume. But what exactly are antioxidants and what do antioxidants do for skin?

What are antioxidants?

When a molecule is electron-deficient (missing an electron), it tries to steal electrons away from other molecules. This not only damages the victimized molecule, but also turns it into a harmful free radical, thus perpetuating a destructive cycle. This process is referred to as oxidation. Antioxidants are quite literally, anti-oxidants; they’re a family of molecules with the ability to inhibit oxidative damage.

Why does the body need antioxidants?

We are constantly exposed to free radicals and ROSs through internal and external sources. Internally, ROSs are a natural byproduct of metabolic reactions within our bodies, but they are also caused by external exposure to environmental stressors like radiation, chemicals and pollutants. (2) Excess of ROSs in the body can be severely detrimental to human health. In fact, they are a fundamental contributor to several degenerative diseases including cancer, diabetes, and dementia. (3) This degeneration, or aging, is a result of the ROSs wreaking havoc on our DNA. The oxidation-induced structural changes lead to genomic instability, and epigenetic alterations - two of the nine hallmarks of aging. (4) Antioxidants are required to inhibit this oxidation, preventing free radicals from aging the body.
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How do antioxidants work within the body?

How exactly do antioxidants inhibit oxidation? Antioxidants are simply molecules with an electron to spare. Therefore, when free radicals rub shoulders with an antioxidant, they are able to steal an electron away and stabilize themselves, without destabilizing the antioxidant and turning it into a free radical. (5)

How do antioxidants for skin care work?

Antioxidants are critical to maintaining the health of several vital organs, and the skin is no exception. So how do antioxidants help skin and why are antioxidants good for your skin? Sun damaged skin, in particular, is often riddled with unwelcome oxidizing guests because UV rays can be very harmful to our skin. Free radicals can oxidize and subsequently degrade structural components of the skin, such as collagen, resulting in a weakened skin barrier and subsequent sagging, wrinkles and fine lines. Therefore, antioxidants are able to proactively prevent this skin damage. (6)

Do antioxidants improve skin health?

Oxidative stress in the skin results in genetic damage, and increases the skin’s biological age, along with leading skin hyperpigmentation. This is partially due to UV radiation-induced ROSs that causes stress on our skin. Through a series of structural changes, UV light inhibits an enzyme called catalase and stimulates the production of other enzymes called nitric oxide synthases. Catalase is an enzyme responsible for catalyzing the break-down of hydrogen peroxide, a common ROS. Nitric oxide synthase is a family of enzymes that catalyze the synthesis of nitric oxide, another ROS. (7) Since antioxidants are able to effectively neutralize these ROSs, they prevent the genetic damage from UV-induced ROSs that can accelerate skin aging, and cause skin cancer. In fact, antioxidants are considered a significant preventative measure against radiation-induced skin cancer.

Do antioxidants help improve acne?

When a molecule gets oxidized unwillingly, it can often release inflammatory factors as an emergency call to the immune system. This can lead to excessive inflammation, creating a host of issues in the skin, including acne. To make matters worse, sebum produced by our oil glands can also get oxidized by free radicals. This modifies the viscosity and composition of the sebum in such a way that it begins to block pores, leading to blackheads and acne. (8) Since antioxidants are able to prevent post-oxidative inflammation and sebum oxidation, they help avoid acne from wreaking havoc on healthy skin.

Do antioxidants exfoliate?

Exfoliation refers to the process of cell turnover; meaning out with the old cells and in with the new ones. Traditional methods which involve vigorously rubbing your face with a loofah, are not ideal for skin elasticity. Using alternative methods such as antioxidants to exfoliate, is highly recommended by dermatologists. In fact, some of the best antioxidants for skin are able to increase skin cell turnover by preventing oxidation of stem cells, maintaining the reserves of young cells, and organically exfoliating the skin. (9)

Do antioxidants make your skin glow?

Through natural exfoliation, prevention of inflammation, acne, and skin hyperpigmentation, antioxidants induce noticeable changes that lead to a healthy skin glow!

Why are antioxidants so important for the health of your skin and body?

Antioxidants operate within the hallmarks of aging, and therefore have a powerful influence on the biological age of the skin and body. In discussing the relationship between free radicals and skin, we’ve come to learn that antioxidants are one of the single best ways to combat increasing levels of oxidative stress.

Is it better to apply antioxidants topically or to consume antioxidants through food or supplements?

Antioxidant supplements and cosmetics are ubiquitous nowadays. Oral supplements usually demonstrate good results on overall health; however, when looking to address skin health and aging specifically, topical antioxidants are more targeted and effective. In fact, oral supplementation of antioxidants have not been successful in increasing antioxidant levels in the skin, since they first get digested, then absorbed. (10) Topical antioxidants, delivered in the form of skin care products like a peptide moisturizer or peptide body lotion for example, allow for immediate and targeted absorption into the specific area of concern, increasing efficacy and lowering toxicity risks. Topical applications of antioxidants have not only been found to prevent skin aging, but they can also behave as added protection against UV damage! Overall, when applied topically, antioxidants can do a whole lot of good for our skin’s health and its rate of aging. (11)

Do antioxidants work with other ingredients?

Not only do they remain effective when combined, but specific antioxidants actually work better together! Ferulic acid is actually known to stabilize vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, and even double its ability to prevent UV damage. However, some antioxidants can trigger skin irritation when paired; of course, it is always recommended to consult a dermatologist before trying new cosmetic or topical skin care products. (12) OneSkin’s Topical Supplements unite various ingredients with antioxidant properties. OS-01 FACE includes supporting antioxidant ingredients Pracaxi Oil, Niacinamide and Oleic Pau Mulato extract. OS-01 BODY includes Sulforaphane and Geneisten antioxidants. These ingredients have displayed anti-inflammatory effects, and can prevent skin aging. While these antioxidants are able to proactively neutralize free radicals, the OS-01 proprietary peptide is scientifically proven to assist with DNA repair. Thus, the OS-01 peptide and antioxidants work together to repair and prevent oxidative damage for every skin type!

Key Takeaways

    • Antioxidants are quite literally, anti-oxidants; they’re a family of molecules with the property to inhibit oxidation caused by environmental stressors.
    • Free radicals induce unwanted oxidation that leads to genomic instability, and epigenetic alterations - two of the nine hallmarks of aging. Antioxidants inhibit free radicals and thus, slow aging.
    • Antioxidants improve skin health, acne and are a better way to exfoliate, further combating uneven skin tone and texture.
    • Topical antioxidant application is preferable to oral ingestion. It allows for immediate and targeted absorption into the specific area of concern, increasing efficacy and lowering toxicity risks.
    • OneSkin’s OS-01 proprietary peptide, formulated for every skin type, including sensitive skin, is scientifically proven to assist with DNA repair. Thus, in OneSkin’s Topical Supplements, antioxidants and the OS-01 peptide work together to prevent and repair skin damage.

By Kiran Kumar: Kiran is studying Biotechnology Engineering at UC San Diego. She is highly enthusiastic about longevity sciences, specifically reproductive aging! You can find more on her at thisiskirank.com.


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5514576/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3249911/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7619452/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3836174/
  5. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318652
  6. https://www.curel.com/en-us/skin-health/skin-science/free-radical-damage-prevention/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29124687/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4756869/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6439348/
  10. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1529-8019.2012.01505.x#:~: x
  11. https://www.healthline.com/health/ferulic-acid#skin-benefits
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