Dermatologists have been waxing lyrical about the benefits of antioxidant support for skin for quite some time. Scientifically proven to fight free radicals caused by pollution and ultraviolet rays, antioxidants support skin health and prevent signs of premature aging, like fine lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.

But did you know antioxidants also play a role in keeping the skin hydrated? You may not immediately think of your favorite antioxidant as a way to retain moisture, but skin hydration and antioxidant support are closely linked.

The Skinny on Skin Hydration and Antioxidant Support

Antioxidants can improve skin hydration in a few ways. Generally speaking, antioxidants help prevent key proteins from breaking down—namely elastin and collagen, which provide moisture and firmness. They also stimulate your skin's ceramide-lipid components, which help your skin retain water by preventing transepidermal water loss (when water leaves the body through the skin).

Your collagen and elastin levels naturally decline as you age. And while you can't stop this process altogether, you can slow it down by incorporating antioxidant skin care into your daily routine.

Close-up of water drops on skin

The Best Antioxidants for Skin Hydration

All antioxidants can support healthy hydration, but some are better suited to particular skin types or conditions.

Vitamin E: Dry Skin and Atopic Skin Conditions

Vitamin E is considered one of the most hydrating antioxidants out there. It's found within sebum, the oil your skin naturally produces, so it creates a moisture-locking barrier on the skin and helps prevent common woes associated with dry skin, like flaking, tightness, and itching. This makes Vitamin E particularly beneficial if you have an atopic skin condition characterized by a compromised skin barrier, such as psoriasis or eczema. In fact, studies show a link between low Vitamin E levels and inflammatory skin conditions, suggesting a correlation between the two.

Vitamin C: Combination or Oily Skin

Vitamin C, or L-Ascorbic Acid, improves hydration levels by stimulating collagen synthesis. Vitamin C is especially great for combination or oily skin because its formulations are usually lightweight and water-soluble, helping them absorb effortlessly into the skin. Some skin care formulas combine Vitamin C with other antioxidants, such as Vitamin E or Ferulic Acid, to further boost hydration levels. These are a good pick if you have sensitive skin since some people find Vitamin C irritating if used alone or in a high potency.

Niacinamide: All Skin Types

Niacinamide is a form of vitamin B3 that's well known for its antioxidant properties and tolerance by all skin types. It helps prevent dehydration and inflammation and restore a compromised skin barrier, making it ideal for redness-prone skin, sensitive skin, and dry skin. Its ability to reduce sebum production also makes it a good option for oily- and acne-prone skin. This antioxidant powerhouse plays well with others, so you'll often find it combined with Vitamin C and Vitamin E. Niacinamide can also help mellow out harsher ingredients, such as Retinol, to make them more tolerable for sensitive skin types.

Adding Hydrating Antioxidants to Your Skin Care Routine

Now that you know a little more about antioxidants' hydrating qualities, you can select the best formulations for your routine. And you have a wide range of <a href="" target="_blank" rel="noreferrantioxidant-rich products to choose from—from broad-spectrum sunscreens formulated with Vitamin C to Vitamin E-enriched cleansers that are as purifying as they are hydrating.

So, what are you waiting for? Enhance your skin care regimen with your favorite antioxidants and keep your skin hydrated and protected from the elements.


  • Catherine Hufton

    Catherine Hufton is a UK-based freelance journalist and writer who has worked for some of fashion's most iconic companies and written for the world's best known magazines and newspapers. Beginning her career at Net-a-Porter and Matches Fashion over 12 years ago, she has created content for L'Oréal, Elle, Harper's Bazaar, The Telegraph and more.

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