Photo: Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images
Antioxidants seem to be mentioned everywhere. From talk shows to magazine articles, everyone praises antioxidant benefits when it comes to skin care. The promise is that, by eating foods rich in antioxidants or applying them directly to the skin, you'll boost skin health and even combat the signs of aging. But is this just another health craze? Or are antioxidants something to seriously consider when it comes to your daily skin regime? Before you make a lifestyle change, get the facts.
Put simply, antioxidants help offset the damaging effect of free radicals on your body's cells. Free radicals are molecules linked to a slew of things nobody wants, such as cancer, heart disease and aging. The most common antioxidants are beta carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E and vitamin A; antioxidants are found in fruits and vegetables as well as some nuts and grains.
Pros and Cons
Antioxidants are not little miracle workers. Colleen Reilly of Vanderbilt University indicates that when it comes to your skin, antioxidants can't turn back time by erasing wrinkles or boosting elasticity that's already been lost. But in an article published in "Your Health Magazine" in March 2010, Valerie Nix suggests that eating foods rich in certain antioxidants can slow down the signs of aging and help retain your skin's moisture. While a healthy diet never hurt anyone, consult a doctor before taking antioxidant supplements as the research on their benefits is still up in the air.
You're not going to find an abundance of antioxidants in fast food, so skip the drive through and head to your local farmer's market or grocery store instead. Look for vegetables such as kale, spinach, carrots and sweet potatoes. Add fruits such as blueberries, oranges, strawberries and pomegranate to your list. And don't forget to include meats and fish such as salmon and liver as they are are also high in antioxidants.
Eating nutritionally can help boost skin health. And applying natural antioxidants directly to the skin lets you target specific areas. Though definitive results from topical antioxidants are still being researched, they may help keep skin moisturized, protect from harmful ultraviolet rays and reduce redness and scarring. Try applying sesame, olive or grapeseed oil to keep skin looking fresh. Applied directly, vitamin C may lessen the effects of sun damage, while a little lemon juice may reduce the look of scarring from acne, according to Dr. Richard Thomas, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the University of British Columbia.