As the founder of a nontoxic beauty retailer that focuses on effective skin care products, I spend a lot of time talking to customers and the word "antioxidant" usually makes their eyes glaze over. As a skin care ingredient, it sounds a little '90s and you've probably heard countless times that antioxidants are proven fighters of free-radical damage, which can lead to premature aging. Old news.
But consider this: Free-radical damage is caused by environmental exposures — sun and pollution, for example — that are, in many cases, becoming increasingly unavoidable. And what you might not have heard is that antioxidants work best in groups. Because each one fights free radicals in different ways, it's always a good idea to include at least a couple of them in your anti-aging skin care regimen.
So the next time you're choosing a moisturizer or anti-aging serum, look for a multitasker (or two, or three) that addresses aging along with another key concern you might have with your skin. Here are five of my favorites.
1. Prawn Sage
Prawn sage is an antioxidant-rich plant that provides the skin with myriad (and major) benefits. It's been found slows cellular senescence, the causative process of aging: a highly concentrated extract of the plant shortens telomeres (protein segments located at the ends of our chromosomes), and the shortening of telomeres has been linked to aging. In simpler terms, what's so exciting about this is that it indicates that prawn sage has an effect on intrinsic aging, caused by internal, genetically-related factors. This is big news.
Prawn sage extract was also shown to be effective in blocking UV rays, a common cause of environmentally-driven aging.
2. Sea Buckthorn
Sea buckthorn is an antioxidant-rich berry whose oil contains antioxidants in addition to essential fatty acids. Impressively, sea buckthorn contains a suite of essential fatty acids that includes omega-3, 5, 7, and 9 (omega-7 is particularly hard to find from plant sources). These EFAs work together to improve skin's hydration and elasticity.
Edelweiss doesn't just belong in The Sound of Music; if you have sensitive skin and are concerned about aging, you should look for this antioxidant-rich Alpine flower in your skin care products. In addition to powerful antioxidant activity, edelweiss also has significant skin-calming benefits and fights wrinkles.
4. Seaweed (Fucus Serratu)
Seaweed in general is a great antioxidant, but this particular variety is worth seeking out. It contains a notable amount of minerals because it survives in the cold North Atlantic Ocean by seeking out nutrients in the water, and it has demonstrated detoxifying and collagen-boosting effects in studies. It's particularly useful in baths and body treatment products.
Resveratrol, traditionally found in red wine, is very powerful and deserves its great reputation. One of its lesser known benefits is its acne-fighting activity. It's been shown to inhibit the growth of acne-causing bacteria by weakening the bacteria's outer membrane without the side effects often reported with other anti-acne ingredients (dry skin, peeling, irritation, etc.).
I find that the most effective beauty products, especially where skin care is concerned, come from manufacturers that go above and beyond to source pure and potent botanicals. When you're shopping, take care to buy from a reputable retailer that thoroughly vets all its brands and products — it'll really help you maximize results. I also believe that personalized guidance goes a long way toward getting the most out of your products, so if you're not sure about the best way to use something, seek out a salesperson who will really take the time to make sure you're using your products correctly and in the right combination.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock