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What Do Antioxidants Really Do for Your Skin?

woman applying antioxidants to her skin

Designing the perfect skincare routine is like creating a work of art — there are so many different, creative ways to tailor your skincare routine to perfectly suit your skin and its unique needs. But there are also some basic ground rules you should know before you get too creative. And it's also important to understand the tools or ingredients you're working with.

Antioxidants are frequently discussed in the skincare world, but you might be able to use the word in a sentence and even know which ingredients to turn to if you want to give your skin an antioxidant boost… you may or may not know what antioxidants are, how they work and why you should be using antioxidant-rich products.

So let's demystify this all-important skincare ingredient and break down what antioxidants are and what they really do for your skin.

What Are Free Radicals?

We know you thought we'd start by talking about antioxidants, but actually, to understand the benefits of antioxidants, you first need to know about the thing antioxidants help fight against: free radicals.

Rather than taking you back to science class and getting down to atoms and electrons, all you really need to understand about free radicals is that they're unstable molecules. Because they're unstable, they react to all kinds of things, and these reactions can cause some problems not just for your skin but for your overall health as well.

Free radicals can be produced naturally by your own body or by external factors like UV rays, pollution, and other things you come into contact with.

Free radicals are unavoidable, and over time, they can have a negative impact on how your body ages. If your body isn't equipped to fight off free radicals effectively, you can even experience oxidative stress, which has the potential to cause serious health complications down the road.

How Do Antioxidants Help Your Skin?

We're most interested in talking about how free radical-fighting antioxidants can help improve your complexion.

In addition to posing some health risks, free radicals can seriously impact your skin cells and how quickly your skin shows visible signs of aging. It's part of the reason why things like alcohol, smoking and unprotected sun exposure are known to age you more quickly! All of those factors can introduce free radicals to your system, which is why you need to give your skin the added defense of antioxidants.

Antioxidants can help offer additional protection to your skin against UV rays by supporting your skin cells during exposure. Don't get us wrong — antioxidants are no replacement for your daily SPF, but using antioxidant-rich skincare products like antioxidant serum or other formulations can be a huge help in supporting your skin against free radical damage and sun damage.

Antioxidants are also helpful when it comes to soothing red, irritated skin that results from sun exposure or other factores.

Because of these effects, antioxidants can have some benefits when it comes to minimizing signs of aging. Free radical damage can impact the production of crucial skin components like collagen, without which your skin loses the plump, firmness that keeps you appearing youthful.

In addition to preventing photodamage and premature aging, antioxidant products can help even out your skin tone and improve skin texture and breakouts. They also address overall skin health by supporting a healthy skin barrier, which is especially vital if you struggle with dry skin.

Incorporating antioxidants into your skincare routine (and your diet!) may help minimize the damaging effects of free radicals and keep you glowing today, tomorrow and for years to come.

What Antioxidants Should You Look For?

One of the most popular antioxidant skincare ingredients is Vitamin C — and for a good reason! It's a well-loved and well-studied nutrient because it can help support youthful-looking skin even as collagen production declines with age, maintaining skin firmness and elasticity!

It's one of the best antioxidants when it comes to minimizing the appearance of hyperpigmentation, and it can brighten the appearance of your skin overall. And like all antioxidants, it offers additional support against photoaging, so it's the perfect partner for sunscreen as part of your morning routine.

Vitamin E and Vitamin A are also great antioxidants with properties that may help support skin integrity. Vitamins E and A also have moisturizing properties, so if hydration is a concern for you, these antioxidants may be best.

Ferulic Acid is likewise a useful antioxidant that can help protect your skin from harmful UV rays. But its real magic is its ability to make other antioxidants — particularly Vitamins C and E — more potent. It's so good as a backup singer to the frontman of Vitamins C and E that it's been shown to double their ability to protect your skin from photodamage.

This one may come as a bit of a surprise, but Retinol is also a potent antioxidant! It penetrates deep into your skin to fight off free radicals below the surface, working to reduce the appearance of everything from fine lines and wrinkles to dark spots and problems with pigmentation.

Niacinamide is also an antioxidant, known otherwise as Vitamin B3. It can help even out the look of your skin tone, smooth out texture issues and address concerns around hyperpigmentation.

There are, of course, other antioxidants out there. From Reservatrol to Curcumin to Coenzyme Q10, there's no shortage of powerful antioxidant products to choose from.

How Can I Use Antioxidants in My Skincare Routine?

Lucky for all of us, there are so many amazing options out there that offer antioxidant benefits. And unlike other ingredients like certain skincare acids, antioxidants shouldn't irritate even the most sensitive skin. Let's walk through a skincare routine focused on empowering your skin with as many powerful, skin-saving antioxidants as possible.


Finding the perfect cleanser can be tough, but we're here to make it easy. Our Resurfacing Vitamin C Cleansing Bar harnesses the potent antioxidant powers of Vitamin C and Niacinamide to help neutralize free radical damage and boost hydration while addressing signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles.

In addition to these powerful antioxidant benefits, it's also formulated with Kojic Acid and Lactic Acid, which help gently exfoliate your skin, sloughing away dead skin cells and oil build-up without causing that tight, itchy stripped feeling other cleansers give you.


The next step in your skincare routine is treating any particular skin concerns you have with a serum. You can use more than one serum (as long as the ingredients in your serums don't have any negative interactions!) if you want, but if you're trying to keep it simple, a Vitamin C serum is the way to go. Our Super C Brightening Serum is the perfect addition to your daily line-up.

Not only does Vitamin C work hard to even out your skin tone and texture with a brightening effect, but it's an ideal part of your morning skincare routine. Our Super C Brightening Serum also includes Ferulic Acid which, as we mentioned, isn't just an antioxidant in its own right — it also doubles the protection that Vitamin C offers your skin.

Now, you can totally use your Vitamin C serum in your morning and evening routine. But if you want to spread the love a little bit, our Reti-Glow™ Gentle Resurfacing Night Oil is the antioxidant superstar your nighttime routine needs.

While Retinol is a fan favorite for a good reason, it comes with some risks, particularly if you have sensitive skin. It can be drying and cause peeling, redness and flaking while your skin adjusts to regular use. So while Retinol definitely has a place in our hearts, we also love Bakuchiol — a gentler, plant-based Retinol alternative.

It has the same exfoliating and antioxidant benefits as Retinol, which means it can improve your skin on just about every level. But Bakuchiol is gentler and easier to work into your skin routine. Our Night Oil also uses antioxidant ingredients like Vitamin E to help promote moisture retention so that you can wake up gorgeous and glowing without worrying about moisture loss overnight.


Moisturizing is a non-negotiable in your skincare routine. Keeping your skin hydrated can prevent the formation of wrinkles and optimize your skin barrier, making it easier for your body to keep bacteria and other breakout-causing impurities out while locking essential moisture in. Our Mega Moisture Illuminating Night Cream is the dry skin hero even the most parched complexion needs to achieve its true potential.

In addition to uber-hydrating Shea Butter and skin microbiome-balancing Probiotics, this Night Cream is enriched with Vitamin E — which, as you know by now, is a potent antioxidant that promotes hydration. It also uses Green Tea Extract, which contributes positively to hydrated skin, minimizes rough texture and helps minimize visible signs of aging. It's also one of those amazing plant extracts with serious antioxidant benefits.

So while hydrating is the priority here, this night cream is also doing the hard work of fighting off damage-causing free radicals while you sleep.


While antioxidants can help make your skin more resistant to free radical damage caused by sun exposure, it doesn't mean you shouldn't continue to apply sunscreen daily. But if adding another step to your routine doesn't appeal, have no fear — our Complexion Protection moisturizer with SPF 30 is here to save the day and your skin.

With both mineral and chemical actives designed to keep your skin safe, this lightweight, non-comedogenic moisturizer gives your skin the hydration it needs to glow throughout the day while protecting it from UV rays. It's also formulated with Vitamin C and Niacinamide, so your SPF is backed up by some heavyweight antioxidants. If you want to ensure that your skin looks so good you get carded when you're out with your grandchildren, look no further.

In Conclusion

While there's a wide, wonderful range of skincare ingredients that can help any skincare concern, it's important to fully understand what these ingredients are so you can design the best regimen for your particular skin type.

Antioxidants are universally helpful, no matter what skin issue has got you down or your skin type. And knowing how they work is a great way to ensure that you're using antioxidant-rich products to their fullest potential!

By: Ivey Rogers Aesthetician Educator & Community
Engagement Manager