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First thing’s first: any antioxidant is a good antioxidant. Whether you’re eating them, applying them to your skin, or drinking them in your teas, these powerful compounds can help protect your skin and organs, reverse signs of aging and more.
That said, not all antioxidants were created equal, and some can help you tackle certain skin problems -- like hyperpigmentation or inflammation -- better than others. Here’s the breakdown of all the best antioxidants for your unique skincare needs.
Fundamentally, antioxidants all work the same way, helping to neutralize free radicals and stop free radical damage. But what does that mean exactly?
Well, free radicals are essentially unstable molecules that are missing an electron. They become unstable thanks to environmental aggressors like pollution, smoke, and UV rays. Well, they try to steal that electron back (and stabilize themselves) using yourcells (you can read about this process in more detail here).
This translates to cellular damage, oxidative stress, and an avalanche of issues like:
Luckily, the right antioxidants can stop these issues in their tracks.
The antioxidant:Vitamin C
How it works:This MVP antioxidant is an all-around superstar, and always on the top of our lists (that’s why we offer it in so many of our formulas, including our Cloud Whip vitamin C moisturizer and our Seeking C vitamin C serum).
So why does it make it to the top? Vitamin C is the ultimate antioxidant multitasker, and it can work hard to:
In short, it can help resolve all of your texture and pigmentation concerns.
Plays well with:Vitamin E, ferulic acid, and broad-spectrum sunscreen
How it works:A form if vitamin B3, niacinamide has a slew of anti-inflammatory properties that can:
Thanks to this, the vitamin is often used to treat rosacea, acne, redness, and skin sensitivity.
Plays well with:Glycolic acid and salicylic acid for additional exfoliation, hyaluronic acid for moisture.
How it works:If you’re a little reticent of retinol (as we are), we recommend checking out bakuchiol as an alternative. Why? While retinol, a vitamin A derivative, is proven to increase cell turnover and stimulate collagen, it’s also known to be quite harsh and irritating on the skin. It can also stop working over time and cause sun damage if you don’t wear lots of sunscreen -- and that’s just scratching the surface when it comes to downsides.
That’s why we prefer bakuchiol. A vegan retinol alternative, this plant extract is proven to:
Plus, it doesn’t have the downsides of retinol, which makes it an excellent choice for those who want to address their aging concerns without irritating their skin or encouraging dermatitis.
Plays well with:Squalane, polyhydroxy acids
How it works:A natural group of compounds found in plants and fruit, polyphenols like resveratrol, flavonoids, and catechins in green tea) are notoriously effective skin soothers! Why? These compounds contain anti-inflammatory and skin calming properties, making this an excellent choice for anyone fighting redness, irritation, or even conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
Plays well with:Broad-spectrum sunscreen, vitamin C, vitamin E
The antioxidant:Hyaluronic acid
How it works:By now, most of us know that hyaluronic acid is the ultimate moisturizer(in fact, it can bind 1,800 times its own weight in water!) But you might not know that this hydrating ingredient is also an antioxidant!
What’s more, it provides essential moisture to the skin without feeling greasy or clogging pores. This, in large part, has to do with the fact that we naturally produce hyaluronic acid (but our own production decreases as we age). This makes it the perfect moisturizer for oily skin! It can:
Plays well with:Most ingredients, including vitamin C, AHAs, and BHAs
The antioxidant:Vitamin E
How it works:If you have dry skin, psoriasis, and/or acne, vitamin E is a great antioxidant to include in your daily regimen. Similar to vitamin C, this antioxidant powerhouse is an all-around winner, and it’s known to gently and effectively:
It’s also an excellent moisturizer, making it a go-to for those with dry, damaged skin.
How it works:We already mentioned resveratrol (it’s a polyphenol) but it deserves its own call-out for its anti-inflammatory properties. Colloquially known as the “longevity molecule,” resveratrol is a powerful anti-aging antioxidant found in the skins of grapes and berries. It has anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, andanti-fungal properties, all of which work together to calm the skin, clear infections, and reduce skin aging.
Plays well with:Ferulic acid, vitamin E, and ceramides
The antioxidant:CoenzymeQ10 (CoQ10)
How it works:Also known as ubiquinone, coenzymeQ10 is another compound that’s naturally found in our bodies. Like hyaluronic acid, though, its concentration diminishes over time, leading to:
Applying this enzyme topically can reverse this damage and stimulate collagen production, thereby improving skin elasticity and texture.
Plays well with:Aloe vera, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid