Free Radical Protection
By Cynthia Bailey MD.
Antioxidant free radical protection of your skin is important for your skin's strength and health. That's because free radicals attack and destroy skin structures. They are involved in all aspects of skin misadventures that lead to complexion problems including sun damage, wrinkles, skin aging, skin cancer, inflammation and more.
Dermatologist explains why free radicals are bad for your skin and how antioxidants help.
In the process of grabbing an electron, free radicals damage the thing that they grabbed it from - like components of precious skin structures including mitochondria, DNA, RNA, fibroblasts etc. Your skin has repair mechanisms but these are easily exhausted. Your skin also has an antioxidant reserve to fight free radicals, but this reserve is depleted after 10-40 minutes of UV ray exposure depending on your skin type.
What causes free radicals in the skin?
It is estimated that 80% of skin free radicals come from UV sun exposure. They also form from stressors such as poor nutrition, physical and psychological stress, overeating, alcohol intake and environmental pollution. They are produced as part of normal physiologic processes too.
How do you fight free radicals in your skin?
The unstable free radicals are neutralized by your skin's antioxidant reserve. When free radical formation exceeds your antioxidants, damage happens. Your skin gets its antioxidants mostly from your diet - hopefully! We now have topical antioxidants that have been shown to help too.
How do you get more antioxidants into your skin to fight skin aging and damage?
Replenish your antioxidant supply daily to fight free radical health and complexion damage with a healthy diet rich in fresh fruits and veggies. Load your skin with more than you can supply from your diet using antioxidant-rich skin care products.
What are the best skin care antioxidants for your skin?
Skin care antioxidants with the best scientific evidence for fighting complexion problems and skin aging include,
#1: Green tea polyphenols
- They are more potent than Vitamin C or E at neutralizing free radicals.
- They have anti-inflammatory and reduce skin redness
- They have proven anti-cancer benefits.
- They can inhibit the breakdown of collagen.
- They reduce skin immune suppression (Langerhans cell depletion).
#2: Vitamin C
- It neutralizes free radicals and help regenerate vitamin E.
- It is a necessary cofactor for enzymes needed for collagen synthesis.
- It helps to reduce pigment darkening by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme needed for melanin production.
- Reduces the breakdown of collagen.
- Reduces sunburn redness, sunburn cells (skin cells damaged by UV) and skin UV immune suppression.
#3: Vitamin E
- Is easily deleted by free radicals
- Helps fight free radical lipid membrane damage, skin aging, immune suppression, DNA damage and collagen breakdown.
- Works best when combined with vitamin C.
#4: Additional antioxidants include CoQ10, resveratrol (from grapes), Phyllanthus Emblca Fruit Extract (gooseberry) and others
- They provide additional antioxidant benefits when present in skin care products but most are less well proven.
What are the best antioxidant skin care products?
Green tea polyphenols clearly stand out as the most beneficial proven antioxidant in skin care, in my opinion and observation of the medical research for over 35 years. That said, how the product is formulated is critical.
For serious antioxidant skin loading you want a stable, high concentration, professional antioxidant skin care product that is dispensed in an airtight container.
You want to use products protected from oxygen and light and formulated by pharmaceutical chemists who know how to stabilize and deliver the antioxidants through the skin. This means that you need to be a savvy consumer and not fooled by what I call a “fairy dusting” of antioxidants added to products for marketing appeal.
Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy Cream
Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy™ is loaded with the right green tea polyphenol antioxidants - the equivalent of 500 cups worth per ounce of cream.
If you were going to pick just one antioxidant product this would be my top choice! I never travel without it and I use it every day as part of my facial skin care routine. - Dr. Bailey
Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream
Green tea polyphenols added to a nighttime applied retinol product is a powerful antioxidant combination. Retinol is an antioxidant in the vitamin A family. My Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream has the highest allowed level of retinol combined with the same pure green tea polyphenol antioxidants.
Advanced Corrective Eye Cream
My Advanced Corrective Eye Cream™ combines retinol vitamins C and E and niacinamide (another great antioxidant for skin care) at levels appropriate for the eye area, along with the same green tea antioxidants.
All three of these products offer the highest level of antioxidant skin care you can find.
Daily Moisturizing Face Cream
Vitamin C and E are present in my Daily Moisturizing Face Cream. In this formulation, these vitamins act as antioxidants. This popular moisturizer is the ideal facial moisturizer for twice daily application.
Sheer Strength Pure Physical Sunscreens
Antioxidants such as vitamin E are often added to sunscreens because they have shown synergy for preventing sun damage.
Lower levels of antioxidants in moisturizers and sunscreens provide additional antioxidant skin protection but not a replacement for a powerful antioxidant skin care product.
The best antioxidant protection for your facial skin
I've combined the best antioxidant product (Green Tea Antioxidant Skin Therapy) with a zinc oxide sunscreen and the right complementary products fortified with additional antioxidants in my Complete Facial Skin Care Kit. The blend of antioxidants in this routine include
- Green tea polyphenols
- Vitamin A, C and E
- CoQ 10
- Emblica fruit extract (gooseberry)
- Zinc Oxide mineral UV protection
The Complete Facial Skin Care Kit is appropriate for all skin types including sensitive, oily, acne-prone etc. It is the foundational base of every anti-aging skin care routine that I create and it is rich in stable antioxidants.
Add additional antioxidant rich products including the Advanced Corrective Eye Cream for the eye area and Retinol Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream at bedtime in place of the Green Tea Cream and you have a powerful medical-grade antioxidant rich skin care routine that combines pharmaceutical products produced in an FDA regulated laboratory. This is the best routine to fight free radical induced skin damage!
Poljsak B, Dahmane R, Free Radicals and Extrinsic Skin Aging, Dermatol Res Pract., 2012; 13526. Feb 29, 2012
Katayar SK, Green tea prevents non-melanoma skin cancer by enhancing DNA repair. Arch Biochem Biophys. 2011 Apr 15;508(2):152-8.