The Most Important Skin-Care Product, After Sunscreen
Skin care experts share the ingredient that should be worn day and night to protect the skin and minimize signs of aging.
Antioxidants for Skin
Despite our best efforts to shield our skin from the sun to prevent against sun damage and skin cancer, there’s another environmental stressor threatening our youthful glow. Air pollution generates oxidants, also known as free radicals, which follow us around, indoors and outdoors, and, like the sun, can accelerate the signs of aging.
“Eighty percent of aging is caused by free radicals,” says Mathilde Thomas, co- founder of Caudalie. “They are what turn fruit brown and rust cars.” The good news is, when it comes to extrinsic aging, meaning external exposures that age us, there are preventative measures we can take.
“Antioxidant ingredients can help prevent free-radical damage that’s done by either pollution or UV exposure,” says Dr. Meghan O’Brien, a dermatologist in New York City. Studies show one of the top antioxidant ingredients is vitamin C. “In addition, vitamin C has other anti-aging benefits, primarily that it can help prevent pigment formation, and it can help with collagen production,” says O’Brien.
Another effective antioxidant ingredient is Viniferin. “We did some studies, and it is 62 times more effective than vitamin C to brighten the skin,” says Thomas. “It has the same effectiveness, but even the most sensitive skin types can use Viniferin.” The ingredient can be found in Caudalie’s Vinoperfect line. Its star product, the Vinoperfect serum, is the number one antioxidant in five European countries. “In Europe, it’s popular because you wear it underneath your sunscreen and it prevents against brown spots,” says Thomas. “In America, it’s really popular for acne scars—it lightens them—and in Asia it’s very popular because it brightens the skin.”
O’Brien recommends applying an antioxidant to skin every day, as well as a sunscreen, as they both protect skin and heal damage that's already been done. “We’ve done studies—if you start wearing sunscreen for six months, your skin will improve,” says O'Brien. “So it’s not just your skin won’t get worse, it’ll give it some room to heal itself.”
It’s also a good idea to reapply an antioxidant at night. “You get rid of everything that pollutes your skin when you sleep,” says Thomas, “and an antioxidant is a good detox ingredient for your skin.”
Below, a roundup of our favourite antioxidant skin care products.
(Also, learn how eating antioxidants can improve your health.)
For a two-in-one product, O’Brien picks this light sunscreen with SPF 50 by Kiehl’s, which also has pollution protection built into it. She applies it every day to help prevent extrinsic aging.
Super Fluid UV Defense SPF 50+, $77, kiehls.ca
(Prefer a physical sunblock? Here are the best mineral sunscreens.)
The one-and-done for sensitive skin
"I like the Vinoperfect moisturizer because it’s a one-and-done," says Thomas. It's a moisturizer with an antioxidant (and it's safe for anyone with sensitive skin) eliminating the need to use a serum beforehand. All you need is to apply this moisturizer to clean skin, then sunscreen, and your skin's protected from environmental stressors.
Vinoperfect Instant Brightening Moisturizer, $79, caudalie.com
For a long-lasting option
This serum tackles all of the above—protection against free radical damage, appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, brown spots, loss of firmness—but also maintains its effectiveness on the skin for 72 hours.
SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic, hammamspa.ca
Next, learn about the latest anti-aging products you need to know about.