Antioxidants are all the rage in skin care, and they can be found in many products, including serums, creams, and oils. More recently, they're becoming a common ingredient in sunscreen formulations. This extra layer of defense may be just what you need to take your skin protection to the next level.

Read on to learn how incorporating an antioxidant sunscreen into your daily routine could improve your skin health in the long run.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells against damage. You get most of your antioxidants through a well-rounded diet that contains plenty of fruits and vegetables, but you can also get them from skin care products.

To fully understand how antioxidants work, it's important to know about free radicals. Free radicals are molecules that are missing an electron, which makes them unstable. To compensate for this missing electron, they try to steal electrons from other molecules in your body, damaging healthy cells in the process.

Free radicals can naturally form in your body, but they're also formed by external stresses—like sun exposure, smoking, and environmental pollution.

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Antioxidants are naturally occurring compounds that can neutralize free radicals. They try to donate an electron to free radicals, which stops them from damaging cells. Whether you get them through your diet or by applying them topically, antioxidants help prevent damage, which maintains skin health overall.

Keep in mind that free radicals aren't all bad—in fact, your body needs some to stay healthy and function properly. But as with many aspects of health, it's all about balance. If you have too many free radicals and not enough antioxidants, that's when problems can start.

All About Antioxidant UV Protection

Free radicals—especially a specific type called reactive oxygen species—can damage your skin over time, known as oxidative stress. Ultraviolet light from the sun (especially UVA) is the main cause of skin oxidative stress. It can lead to skin cancer and signs of photoaging, like wrinkles, uneven skin tone, rough texture, and pigment changes.

One of the most effective ways to prevent this UV damage is to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day. Sunscreens with antioxidants have an added benefit: they can boost UV protection and help manage damage from the UV rays that do get through. Having antioxidants on board can help neutralize some of the effects of harmful free radicals and prevent—or reverse—damage before it becomes permanent. Think of antioxidant UV protection as a double layer of defense in one easy step.

What to Look for in an Antioxidant Sunscreen

Fortunately, finding your perfect antioxidant sunscreen is easy. Start with a broad-spectrum, noncomedogenic formulation that's at least SPF 30. Then, look for these powerful antioxidants in the ingredients list to help give your skin that extra layer of protection:

  • Vitamin E (Tocopherol)
  • Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid)
  • Niacinamide (Vitamin B3)
  • Ferulic Acid
  • Polyphenols

If you're not sure where to start, try exploring the EltaMD UV AOX Collection which contains our antioxidant powered sunscreens including a tinted facial sunscreen, a full-body spray sunscreen, and our eye specific sunscreen. This family of 100% mineral sunscreens are designed to simultaneously repel harmful UVA and UVB rays while helping fight premature aging and moisturize skin.

Protect Your Skin Regularly

No matter which antioxidant-infused sunscreen you choose, use it daily to get the most protection and maximize its skin benefits. And remember, sunblock is just one part of sun-healthy habits. Wearing hats, donning sun-protective clothing, and seeking shade are other ways to keep your skin healthy and vibrant while enjoying the outdoors any time of year.



    Maria Robinson, MD, MBA is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatopathologist with over ten years of clinical experience. Dr. Robinson has a passion for nutrition and integrative dermatology, and is the co-founder of, where people can explore holistic dermatology treatments. Through her writing, she strives to empower people with accurate health information so they can make positive decisions that lead to healthy and vibrant skin.

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