For years, I've heard from friends like FitSugar that antioxidant-rich foods are good for me. Now, antioxidants are showing up in more and more skincare products, promising to protect your cells from damage. So what exactly are they?
According to the National Cancer Institute, antioxidants are "substances that may protect cells from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals." When a free radical steals an electron from another molecule and changes the state of the atom, that is called oxidation. Free radicals are bad for the skin, because they can cause cell damage and decrease elasticity and resilience.
Found in tons of fruits and veggies, antioxidants take the form of enzymes, hormones, vitamins, or minerals. They help promote healthy organs and tissue, and some evidence shows they could help prevent cancer, heart disease, and other health problems. As for the benefits of antioxidants in skincare, the jury is still out, so
I recently ran across this article by Paula Begoun, where she basically says that the beauty industry doesn't really know if antioxidants prevent wrinkles or repair skin. Here's more:
Despite the proliferation of skin-care products containing antioxidants, according to Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, chief of antioxidants research at Tufts University, "there is no conclusive scientific evidence that antioxidants really prevent wrinkles, nor is there any information about how much antioxidant(s) or exactly which one(s) has to be present in a product to have an effect."
However, if it does turn out to be possible to slow free-radical damage in skin, then antioxidants would be the answer. In the meantime, they certainly can't hurt.