Fighting Skin Aging and Preserving Health
There are a few key practices which are vital to maintaining skin youthful in both function and appearance: in summary they involve protection, stimulation and nutrition. For some genetically blessed, protection may the only action required to maintain skin looking fresh and radiant into their 60’s.
It is common knowledge that sunscreens play a key role in protecting skin from damaging UVA and UVB radiation and therefore from its caustic effects leading to both aesthetic and skin cancer concerns. (I will touch on sunscreen varieties in future posts!) What most don’t know is that sunscreen protect us from only a small percentage of total solar radiation (roughly 7 %) and gives us no protections from all other environmental stressors such as pollution, smoke, chemical exposure, toxins (make-up and other creams ). Although with a broad spectrum sunscreen, we are assuming protected from certain skin cancers, without any additional support we are still susceptible, via the above aggressors, to free radical formation. Infrared radiation (IR, composing over 50 % of solar radiation, has shown to be strongly linked to free radical formation. Additionally, IR has the ability to penetrate even deeper than UV rays, making its effects especially concerning.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are the source of unpredictable cell behavior. They are formed when liberated from a damaged atom molecule. IR and other environmental stressors mentioned above, disrupt electrical harmony of cells, forming free radicals. As we accumulate them we continually damage more cells, accelerate the aging of the tissues and ultimately causing health concerns.
“A free radical is an unstable oxygen molecule with an uneven number of electrons,” explains Miami dermatologist Leslie Baumann, MD. “These free radicals are looking to steal electrons from your cells in order to complete themselves, and the result is damage to the cells in the form of inflammation, pigmentation, and even DNA damage.”
What can we do to protect ourselves from free radical formation?
For more global protection we need additional armor in the form of antioxidants. Antioxidants give our skin the tools its needs to fight off free radical accumulation and therefore maintain healthy function and structure resulting in youthful skin appearance. By providing the electrons the free radicals are scavenging for, we prevent them from further damaging healthy cells and forming more free radicals. Antioxidants prevent premature aging and dangerous sequelae which can lead to irregular cell behavior linked to disease and cancer.
Antioxidants in diet is an undisputable requirement for overall wellness and health maintenance. Those who make conscious efforts to include antioxidant sources from fruits vegetables and nuts live longer quality lives with less risk of disease and cancer. It’s a no brainer that regular consumption of berries, vibrant colored vegetables, omega fatty acid sources will also enhance your skins appearance but if you are not protecting your skin externally….you may be working against what positive work you have been doing internally. This is where the importance of a good skin product, high in antioxidants, comes to play.
So why not buy sunscreens which claim high antioxidant content and get the most out of a single product?
Although there are a few sunscreens which incorporate antioxidants, most don’t have high enough concentrations to do the work we need them to correctly.
In addition, even high quality antioxidants are unstable when exposed to direct light and air. Antioxidants which are imbedded within sunscreens are many times partially oxidized and therefore less efficient at protecting skin. Additionally, the sunscreen, if has active chemical ingredients, produces free radical itself! This means that the antioxidants embedded in such sunscreens are utilized in neutralizing the free radical affects the sunscreen produces and therefore is not doing a great job at protecting the skin from anything else! Its for this reason your antioxidant should be applied first. Once absorbed you can put on your sunscreen. Again if you want to avoid free radical formation at all cost, it may be worth looking into a good physical sunscreen (no chemicals used, mostly mineral based, reflect UV rays and prevent absorption). Try ….Skinceuticals Sheer Physical UV Defense SPF 50, MD Solar Science 50SPF, and Color Science Mineral Powder Sunscreens SPF 30 and 50.
What should we look for when looking for an antioxidant product?
The most famed antioxidants include Vitamin A, C and E. Out of these Vitamin C has shown the strongest qualities for free radical sequestration. L-ascorbic acid is pure Vitamin C. Other forms of vitamin C include ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate, ascorbyl palmitate and magnesuem ascorbyl phosphate. Vitamin C is a super antiaging agent as it stimulates collagen and protects at the same time. Vitamin A is found in forms such as retinyl acetate, retinyl palmitate and retinol. Vitamin A is also useful for its ability to stimulate cellular turnover, preventing wrinkle, sun spots and in stronger forms cancer. Vitamin E is most often found as tocopheryl nicotinate and tocopheryl linoleate. Vitamin E is useful for not only its antioxidant properties but the fact it stabilizes vitamin C and gives your product a longer shelf life.
Other, less known, but powerful antioxidants include idebenone, ferulic acid, selenium, superoxide dismutase, alpha-lipoic acid, coenzyme Q 10 and Liprochroman 6. Other natural antioxidant sources include green tea, bamboo isoflavones (also act as a natural alternative to silicone), grapeseed, argan and jojoba oils, walnut seed, redwine, yucca, flaxseed and Hopextract.
Below I list 10 star antioxidant products and why you should love them! The first 5 use extensively medically proven ingredients, have strong clinical investigations supporting their claims, and raving customer reviews. The last 5, are my top picks for naturally sourced antioxidants products.
1. C E Ferulic by Skin Ceuticals
- Combination antioxidant treatment containing 15% L-ascorbic acid (pure vitamin C), 1% alpha tocopherol (vitamin E), and 0.5% ferulic acid.
- Results in visually changes skin in weeks. I have recommended this to my own patients and am astounded that a topical product can result in so much improvement in terms of appearance and quality of skin.
- Works to protect, stimulate collagen, improve tone and firmness and replenish lipids to prevent and diminish wrinkles.
- Great for those over 30 who want protection and aesthetic enhancing treatment in one!
- Once absorbed, this serum can’t be washed or rubbed off. It remains effective for a minimum of 72 hours, making it an excellent addition to sunscreen.
- Price: $14
2. Prevage Anti-aging Daily Serum by Elizabeth Arden
- An advanced anti-aging serum which includes Idebenone. Idebenone is said to have more antioxidant power than all most other antioxidants. There is a bit of debate whether it prevails over Vitamin C.
- Other active ingredients include the antioxidants Thiotaine, Bamboo isoflavones, Lipochroman 6 and a green tea blend.
- Protects while reversing existing skin aging symptoms such as wrinkling, pigmentary issue, textural irregularities and overall skin tone.
3. Vitamin C+E Complex by Skin Medica
- Incorporate both Vitamin C and E .
- Silicone suspension used to prevent antioxidant oxidation and therefore improve efficacy of antioxidants ability to fight free radical formation by environmental stressors.
- High percentage of active ingredients and gradual release formula make this an ideal product for those who want a gentle yet effective medical-grade anti-aging product.
4. Vivite Daily Antioxidant Facial Serum by Allergan
- Uses mix of olive, pomegranate, green tea, chamomile, and licorice extracts to help protect and rejuvenate skin.
- Also includes a bit of glycolic acid to control oil, smooth skin, and lighten skin discolorations.
- Can be irritating for sensitive skin types
- Great for oily skin types with tendency to have pigment irregularities.
- Incorporates many natural antioxidant sources making it a nice balance of science meets nature!
5. RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum by Paulas Choice
- Incorporates antioxidants Vitamin C , coenzyme Q 10 , Vitamin E, Ferulic acid, green tea derivatives and others to protect skin, support collagen stimulation and improve skin tone.
- Customers rave about product smoothness, fast absorption and ability to combine with make-up and sunscreen.
- Great for those who want an affordable skin base which protects, repairs and brightens skin.
- Non-irritating, fragrance free
- Average $25
…………..Now for my top five natural picks!
6. Sundara (Beauty) Face Oil by Jiva Apoha
- Uses Vitamin E, grape seed and jojoba oils antioxidant and nourishing properties to create natural antiaging skin base..
- Grapeseed oil is rich in OPC (potent antioxidants known as oligomeric proanthocyanidin complexes)
- Infused with 100% essential oils such as Sandalwood and Jasmine, Lavender Rose and Chamomile to soothe tone and prevent irritation.
- Easily absorbed, non-greasy formula that actually serves to balance natural oil production.
- Jiva Apoha combines search for natural beauty with healing practices of Ayurveda.
- Ideal product those searching for healthy and natural beauty antioxidant to protect, balance, replenish and heal skin.
- I just love this product line! The philosophy, the pureness and the ingredients resonate with my idea of responsible consumerism and beauty through investment in health!
7. Eight Greens Youth Serum by Eminence
- Bio-complex formula includes various vitamins and antioxidants including coenzyme Q10 and alpha lipoic acid.
- Other antioxidants include Yucca extract, flaxseed and Hopextract
- Includes lavender oil to calm and prevent irritation.
- Handmade, Paraben free, harsh chemical free and organic.
- Great for those wanting natural gentle protection + more even skin tone
8. Vitamin Sea Serum by OSEA MALIBU
- Antioxidant boost with an anti-aging blend of seven organic seaweed extracts that nourish and hydrate.
- Contains Vitamins A, C, and E, walnut seed and green tea extracts
- Perfect for those searching a protective skin base treatment that is 100% Organic and Vegan.
9. Sea Vitamin Anti-Aging Boost by Osea
- Similar benefits and properties to Vitamin Sea Serum with additional ability to repair cellular damage and prevent inflammation. Potent blend of Vitamin C, pomegranate and red wine antioxidant extracts. These protect from cellular damage and inflammation.
- Other ingredients include pomegranate and red wine extracts and Gigartina Algae. Gigartina Algae is hand-harvested off the shores of Patagonia, and sun-dried at the OSEA seaweed farm on the southern tip of Argentina. This algae is known for its high vitamin, mineral, amino acid and enzyme content and serves to regenerate, protect and soothe skin.
- I don’t love the smell particularly and you need to combine with sunscreen cream which is hydrating and easily absorbed.
- Great for summer months or when traveling for additional protection against aggressive sun. Can be used as spray on the beach.
10. Vitamin C Anti-Aging Face Serum by John Masters Organics
- Combines Vitamin C for prevention and rejuvenation with natural botanicals such as sea algae, nettle and rosebud to moisturize and nourish.
- Protects skin, promote health and repair of damage.
- Great for people with younger skin who want economical and natural way to be proactive in keep skin healthy and youthful.
Some final insight…….
Remember that as helpful as any one antioxidant product can be, the best you can do for yourself is armor yourself with as many as you can. A diet high in antioxidants is important for overall health, function and disease prevention. A good product should contain high concentrations of antioxidants (make sure they are at the beginning of the ingredient list ) and low in preservatives and harmful chemicals. Hydrate yourself and your skin with antioxidant infusions. There are supplements which contain antioxidants helping protect your immune system and skin health. If eating adequate amount of fruits and vegetable is difficult for you, you might want to invest in a trusted source. Lastly, just because something claims to have green tea or vitamins doesn’t mean it’s good for you. If you are not familiar with the manufacturer of a certain product, check for validity from a trusted health care provider.
Even with the help of antioxidants prolonged solar radiation can take a toll on skin health. Its always a good idea to wear protective clothing and a hat when spending all days outdoors.
With antioxidants by your side you can finally unleash your genetic potential. Would it not be amazing to find out what your skin might age like in a closer to perfect world of ideal nutritional choices, with less toxins, pollution and solar radiation? I’m curious ….arent you??