Topical Antioxidants- What does that even mean?


“What the heck are antioxidants and why would I need to put them on my skin,” you ask?  To understand the need for this step in your skincare regimen, you must first understand what 'free radicals‘ are and how they relate to your body.

Scientifically, free radicals are molecules created as a by-product of oxygen metabolism as our bodies create energy at the cellular level.  Basically, the oxygen molecule loses one electron, turning it into a ‘free radical.’

Free radical formation is encouraged by external factors such as pollutants, sunlight, radiation, smoking, excessive alcohol and some drugs.  They float around the body looking for electrons to rebalance themselves.  If necessary, free radicals steal electrons from normal, healthy cells.   This is the cause of conditions such as accelerated aging and deadly cancers.

Antioxidants protect healthy cells by donating an electron to the free radicals.  The body produces some antioxidants naturally, and we can also get them from the foods we eat and from dietary supplements.  However, the absolute best way to get them to the skin is to apply them topically.

Currently, there are many advertising claims of topical products containing antioxidants that will protect against and reverse aging.   However, the truth is, many of the available formulations contain very low concentrations of antioxidants that are not well absorbed by the skin.

Vitamin C, on the other hand, is an antioxidant which when manufactured into a stable topical formulation, is proven to be effective in protecting against the photo aging (environmental aging) of the skin.

Anyone and everyone can benefit from adding a Vitamin C serum into their daily skin care regimen!

There are many preparations that claim to benefit aging skin, however not all Vitamin C’s are alike.  Correctly formulating and stabilizing a topical Vitamin C preparation is a difficult and costly process and patients and consumers should be picky about which one to spend your money on.  Many on the market are manufactured cheaply and are basically ineffective.   A $30 product might be completely ineffective while just spending a small bit more could produce amazing results.


Article by
Ashburn Plastic Surgeon