Skin Care | “Skin Vitamins”

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

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How do they work and why are they an important part of an ‘anti-aging’ skin care system?

Simply put, antioxidants are substances that protect the skin against the damaging effect of free radicals,  i.e. unstable atoms that are generated by:

- Sunlight (UVA & UVB radiation)
- Pollution
- Smoke
- Stress
- Certain foods
- Drugs
- Exercise, etc. 

The presence of these free radicals not only assist causing disease, but they also accelerate the skin’s aging process. Antioxidants are substances that increase the body’s (or in this case the skin’s) defense against the damaging effect of free radicals. 

With the understanding that exposure to the sun accounts for 80% of the aging that we can prevent on our skin, it would seem that addressing this issue alone can go a long way to preserving the face we have for a few more years. 

Think it’s all hogwash? Maybe. 

How do ‘antioxidants’ work? 

Well, let’s see. Perhaps the best analogy would be the case of the apple.

Slice an apple in half. Leave one half exposed to the atmosphere for a few minutes and the other half you sprinkle some lemon juice on. What would happen?

You will notice a browning colour starting to appear on the exposed inner parts of the part of the apple .

However, what would happen if you were to drizzle some lemon juice over the other half of the apple and let it sit for a while? The result? Nada.

The original colour of the sliced apple is preserved, enabling you to still serve it to your guests after having it sit out for some time, or have your kids actually eat the apple at school rather than throw it away because it was ‘rotten’.

This browning process is called oxidation, and it’s the same thing happens to silver, or almost any other metal that is exposed to the atmosphere (the mixture of water and oxygen primarily) over time. Rust, for example, is the extreme case of a metal that’s been oxidized. Your skin is no different. Like the lemon, antioxidants in skin care assist in slowing down this ‘oxidzation’, which accelerates aging. 

Gold, platinum and palladium do not oxidize at room temperature, which is the reason they are used in jewelry and electronics. Stainless steel, titanium, tantalum and niobium are highly resistant to oxidation… not sure how I traveled so far on this tangent, so let me hop off here. 

Back to the skin, this is not to say that you ought to put lime or lemon juice directly on your skin of course. Well you can, but that wouldn’t be very intelligent.

Lemon juice may work for the apple, but it is much more acidic than the natural pH of the skin’s surface. The skin’s natural barrier would be degraded leaving your skin more prone to, among a host of other things, increased dehydration (less moisture) and inflammation (more redness/ sensitivity) in skin, both of which accelerate the skin’s aging, which will bring you to square negative five (-5). 

So, as I said, not very intelligent move. 

However, Vitamin C is a very powerful, common antioxidant. So how can we capitalize it’s effect on our skin?

With the understanding that the Vitamin C that is freshly squeezed out of an orange breaks down before you can top up your tumbler and add that umbrella, a more stable form of Vitamin C needs to be packaged for use in skin care products. 

Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) is a very stable form of Vitamin C, stable enough to be used in skincare. After all, we’ve all been told to up our Vitamin C intake to prevent the common cold, and to boost our immune system in general. 

In the same way, you can have  vitamins for the skin. These “Skin Vitamins” can be thought of as Antioxidants. 

Ingredients, Ingredients, Ingredients.

Some of the best antioxidant ingredients found in skin care (and their cosmetic ingredient names) are:

- White Tea (the most powerful) or Green tea (Camellia Sinensis)
- Soy (Glycine Soya Protein)
- Vitamin C (Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate and other Ascorbic Acid derivatives)
- Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate)
- Licorice (Glycyrrhiza

The presence of any of the above in your skin care products, hopefully as one of the first few ingredients rather than the last, will assist in the fight against the damaging free radicals that your skin encounters from day to day. 

Because free radicals are also found inside the body, having a diet loaded with antioxidant foods will assist you immune system in general. And, as you thought I’d say, don’t forget the sunscreen, a minimum of SPF 15 daily.

b FiercelyFabulous.



Sunkissed beauty
Anti-Agers | Antioxidants 
Anti-Aging Tip #2
10 Top Skin-Care Faux Pas 
Health | Best foods 

Photo: graur razvan ionut /

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