It’s the age of the antioxidant. It seems a day doesn’t go by without us hearing about the remarkable potential of antioxidants to scavenge free radicals that can cause cell damage. Evidence is accumulating that applying certain antioxidants to the skin surface can decrease the appearance of lines and wrinkles for both men and women associated with aging as well as prevent new ones. There’s a lot of confusion and misinformation regarding antioxidants for skin with cosmetic companies claiming their products reduce the signs of aging when they actually don’t. In this confusing world of skin creams and anti-aging claims, which topical antioxidants actually work? Here’s the low down on antioxidants that may reduce the signs of aging:
Antioxidants for skin: Grape seed
There are a variety of cosmetic products which incorporate grape seed into their skin care formulations including Lancome’s VineFit Cool Gel. Grape seed is a rich source of proanthocyanidins which are strong free radical scavengers that can reduce damage to cells of the body. Studies in rodents have shown that when grapeseed extract is applied to the skin, it helps to promote wound healing. Another study showed that mice given grape seed extract had significantly fewer skin tumors. This suggests that grape seed may be exerting its antioxidant effect in these mice since free radical formation is thought to play a role in the development of skin tumors. There’s also evidence that grape seed may reduce the breakdown of collagen with aging and reduce the pigmentation of sun related skin lesions.
The verdict is still out as to whether grape seed can actually reduce the visible signs of aging, although many dermatologists believe that it does have a positive impact on the appearance of photoaging skin. It would make sense that grape seed with its strong ability to destroy free radicals might have positive effects on aging skin damaged by sun exposure.
Antioxidants for skin: Green tea
A variety of studies have supported green tea’s role in preventing the development of skin cancers related to sun exposure when applied to the skin surface. It’s thought to exert this protective effect secondary to its antioxidant properties as well as its ability to reduce inflammation. A topical green tea cream was shown in a study to improve levels of elastin in the skin which should have a positive impact on the progression of aging. Whether or not it can actually reverse skin aging is still unknown. It also appears to have some effect on lightening areas pigmented by overexposure to the sun.
Green tea does appear to have some ability to even out skin pigmentation, protect against sun damage, and, possibly, reduce the appearance of wrinkles. There are a variety of skin creams available that have green tea as a component. Make sure you’re getting a cream with a high concentration of the green tea components.
Antioxidants for skin: Soy
Studies done on hairless mice treated with a soy extract were exposed to sunlight. The mice that were given the soy extract experienced less wrinkling, higher collagen levels, and a better skin appearance than the group who were not given soy extract. There’s also evidence that topical application of soy may reduce skin pigmentation due to sun damage.
Topical application of soy does appear to have some ability to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles as well as even out the skin tone. One cream that has soy as a component is Fresh Soy Formula Face Cream.
Other antioxidants for skin that appear to hold some promise in preventing and reversing the signs of skin aging include olive oil, milk thistle, and lyopene found in tomatoes. More studies will be needed to confirm whether or not these antioxidants are effective on human skin. Other antioxidants for skin that have been shown to have some ability to protect the skin against the ravages of aging include Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Coenzyme Q10, and Alpha Lipoic acid. Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Coenzyme Q10 are found in a variety of skin creams on the market. Again, be sure to look for formulations that have higher concentrations of these antioxidants.
It’s exciting to know that skin aging may be influenced by these natural cellular antioxidants. They may offer an effective, all natural solution to aging skin.