Need a quick refresher? Free radicals are unstable molecules. The body naturally produces free radicals during normal metabolism, exercise, and immune responses, though it can also regulate them by making its own supply of antioxidants (assuming essential nutrient building blocks and cofactors are present). However, certain situations—like air pollution, other environmental stressors, nutrition choices, and day-to-day stress—can increase free radical production while thwarting antioxidant defenses. The result is free radicals, causing oxidative stress.
So what does this mean for your skin? “Free radicals and oxidative stress lead to changes in the cell that are recognized as signs of aging: decreased collagen and elastin, increased pore size, increased textural changes, and changes in pigmentation,” says Morgan Rabach, M.D., board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of LM Medical NYC. And according to Michele Farber, M.D., board-certified dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group, it can lead to reduced skin barrier function, too.
Well, antioxidants have the ability to actively buffer against and combat this process.* One way in which they do this is by donating an electron without becoming a free radical in the process. Or they neutralize them by breaking them down. And by doing this, they can delay and ease many of the skin care concerns we mentioned above. At this point I assume it’s becoming clear why experts tell you to load up on antioxidant inputs, both internally and externally.
Fortunately, you can bolster your body’s internal antioxidant defenses via food and targeted supplements.* Getting your fill of antioxidants internally starts with a balanced, nutrient-rich, and plant-centric diet. But the latter (supplements) are more highly concentrated, as larger doses of antioxidants and extracts are able to be delivered in products like capsules, powders, gummies, or liquids. Needless to say, if you’re looking to fine-tune your routine in the name of skin care, thoughtfully formulated antioxidant supplements with ingredients rooted in science will fit the bill.*