If you regularly wash and moisturize your face and use sunscreen daily, congratulations! You've already developed solid habits for healthy skin. Now, you may want to consider leveling up your skin care game by introducing antioxidants.

Antioxidants are great for your overall health, but it turns out they can also work wonders for your skin.

Antioxidants help protect your skin from external stressors and minimize the signs of aging. However, with so many options out there, it can be hard to cut through the noise. Read on to discover the best antioxidants for skin and how to incorporate them into your daily routine.

What Are Antioxidants in Skin Care?

Antioxidants are compounds that help protect your cells against free radical damage. Free radicals are missing an electron, which makes them unstable and highly reactive. They try to steal electrons from other molecules in your body, damaging healthy cells in the process. Your body forms some free radicals naturally, but others come from external stressors like ultraviolet (UV) light and pollution.

Antioxidants help stabilize free radicals before they can wreak havoc on the rest of your cells. Most antioxidants come from a well-rounded diet full of fruit and vegetables. But you can also apply them directly to your skin with various skin care products, from cleanser to sunscreen.

Beautiful senior woman in bathrobe looking at mirror and applying natural face cream in bathroom, skin care concept.

The Best Antioxidants for Skin

Over time, free radical damage adds up. This can take a serious toll on your skin, leading to skin cancer and signs of premature aging, like uneven skin tone, wrinkles, loss of skin elasticity, dryness, and enlarged blood vessels. To add insult to injury, this damage also keeps your skin from repairing itself effectively.

Applying antioxidants to your skin can help prevent and treat the damage free radicals cause, so they're all beneficial. But do some work better than others? Here's a deep dive into the best antioxidants for your skin.

1. Vitamin E

Vitamin E (Tocopherol) is one of the most widely used antioxidants—and it's also one of the most effective. Normally found in seeds (like sunflower seeds), nuts (especially almonds), and leafy greens (like spinach), Vitamin E absorbs easily into the skin and can reverse short- and long-term damage from UV rays. It helps smooth out skin texture, reduces wrinkle depth, and boosts the skin's self-healing abilities. Because of these soothing properties, Vitamin E can be helpful if you have sensitive skin. It's often combined with other antioxidants, like Vitamin C.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is the most abundant antioxidant in your skin, so it's no surprise that it plays such an important role in skin health. Found in many fruits and vegetables, this powerhouse antioxidant protects your skin from UV-induced photoaging by boosting collagen production, smoothing fine lines, and evening out hyperpigmentation. It also complements Vitamin E, helping it do its job better.

Look for Vitamin C concentrations between 10 and 20 percent; anything above that isn't more effective. The strongest—and most studied—form of Vitamin C is L-Ascorbic Acid, but it can also be the most irritating, especially in higher concentrations. If you have sensitive skin, look for formulations with less irritating versions, like Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate (MAP) and Tetrahexyldecyl (THD) Ascorbate.

3. Niacinamide

When it comes to your skin, Niacinamide (a form of Vitamin B3) is one of the most beneficial and versatile antioxidants. You can get it from different food sources—like meats, vegetables, and grains—and your body can also make it from niacin.

Niacinamide blocks free radical damage, helps even out skin pigmentation, and reduces redness, blotchiness, and inflammation. It also boosts collagen production, which smooths out fine lines and wrinkles. Finally, Niacinamide helps strengthen the skin barrier, making it a perfect choice if you have sensitive skin. When choosing Niacinamide, look for concentrations between 2 and 5 percent for the best results.

4. Ferulic Acids and Other Polyphenols

Polyphenols refer to a diverse group of plant-based antioxidants. They offer a host of benefits for your skin, including blocking UV-induced damage, evening out skin tone, and stimulating collagen and elastin production. Ferulic Acid is one of the most widely used polyphenols for reducing fine lines and wrinkles and achieving a more even complexion. It's also often combined with other antioxidants, like Vitamin C, because of its stabilizing properties. Other potent polyphenols include White and Green Tea Extract (Epigallocatechin Gallate or EGCG), Sea Buckthorn, and Pomegranate Fruit Extract.

How to Incorporate Antioxidants into Your Daily Routine

Anyone can benefit from adding antioxidants to their skin care routine, regardless of age, complexion, or skin type. For maximum benefits, use antioxidants regularly and maximize their contact with your skin.

For example, apply a lightweight antioxidant serum after washing your face and before your moisturizer. Then, apply an antioxidant sunscreen like SPF 40 EltaMD UV AOX Mist or SPF 50 EltaMD UV AOX Elements. Both sunscreens are 100% mineral and part of the antioxidant collection that works to help combat abd restore signs of premature aging while protecting your skin from harmful UV rays. Mist is an easy-to-use mineral spray combines Vitamins C and E to help prevent UV-induced photoaging that also rejuvenates the skin and locks in moisture with Coconut Fruit Extract and Aloe Vera while Elements is an upgraded version of our classic, tinted sunscreen formula that that is proven to not only protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays but also blue light and environmental aggressors while helping hydrate your skin.

Healthy Habits Lead to Healthy Skin

Skin damage doesn't happen overnight, and antioxidants can't work their magic overnight, either. When using antioxidants, be patient and consistent. Over time, you'll see that using antioxidants in your daily sun and skin care routine will keep your skin looking and feeling healthy. Ready to harness the power of antioxidants?



    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 www.integrativederm.org, 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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