Age- Defying Antioxidants

Aging is inevitable; and skin, like the rest of the body, is susceptible to the ravages of time and lifestyle. Though aging may be inevitable, how we age depends on how we treat our bodies and our skin. With proper care and nourishment, skin can remain healthy and beautiful well into the later years.

Scientists have long searched to understand how the aging process works. First proposed in 1956, the free radical theory of aging, now widely accepted, states that the aging process is due to the cumulative damage caused by free radicals—unstable molecules that damage cellular structures and DNA. Antioxidants, specialized molecules that can neutralize free radicals before they cause damage, are the body’s natural defence system.

Skin damage caused by UV radiation is called photoaging or premature aging. Photoaging shows up as fine lines, wrinkles, loss of skin tone and elasticity, and pigmentation abnormalities. By decreasing the amount of sun exposure and wearing sunscreen when appropriate, we can help prevent photoaging.

Additionally, and just as importantly, we can nourish our skin with a healthy lifestyle, a healthy diet, and topical antioxidants.

Numerous antioxidants, including vitamin C, vitamin E, lipoic acid, green tea extract, and others, have been shown in studies to be beneficial for skin and to help protect against UV damage when applied directly. Applying antioxidants topically is actually the fastest way to deliver these important nutrients to your skin.

7 powerful but lesser known antioxidants with multiple skin benefits are Lycopene, Lutein, Zeaxanthin, Astaxanthin, Alpha & Beta Carotene and Pycnogenol.


Lycopene is the bright red carotenoid pigment, known to be one of the most potent antioxidants. Some research studies suggest that men who eat tomato-based products regularly are less likely to develop prostrate cancer than their counterparts.

Researchers advise that heating tomato sauce and adding an oil, such as extra-virgin olive oil, changes the shape of lycopene molecules, allowing easier digestion and maximum bioavailability.

Lycopene may also protect against heart disease by inhibiting free radical damage to LDL (bad) cholesterol, and it may possibly boost sperm concentration in infertile men.

Lutein & Zeaxanthin

Lutein is the yellow carotenoid pigment, most often linked to optimal vision and skin health. Lutein is mainly concentrated in the peripheral part of the retina and has been shown to lessen macular degeneration or age-related vision loss due to damage to the retina. It differs from the carotenoid zeaxanthin by protecting the skin against UV damage and also by increasing skin hydration and elasticity.

Zeaxanthin is in many of the same food sources as lutein and is strongly linked to eye health too. It is concentrated in the central macula of the retina and has been shown to lessen the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration. A powerful antioxidant, zeaxanthin filters out UV light to protect the eyes against sun damage.


This bright red pigment is produced by microscopic small plants such as algae. What makes this antioxidant unique is how it gets into the human food chain. Many marine animals eat astaxanthin-rich algae, which becomes concentrated in their shells and flesh to give them their red colour. This helps explain how salmon or prawns can vary in colour intensity.

Astaxanthin has been shown to enhance the immune system by increasing the number of antibody-producing cells. New attention has been drawn to this carotenoid as a study published in Atherosclerosis (April 2010) revealed that taking an astaxanthin supplement for 12 weeks resulted in a significant reduction in triglyceride levels and a significant increase in HDL cholesterol—the good one. For skin, astaxanthin has been shown to reduce inflammation, protect skin from UV damage and, in preliminary studies, reduce wrinkles.

Alpha and beta carotene

Rich in a red-orange pigment that is abundant in produce such as carrots, alpha and beta carotene are classified as provitamin A compounds, as they convert retinol into the active form of vitamin A used by the body.

Beta carotene is the more powerful of the two, as alpha carotene has one-half the vitamin A activity of beta. Not only do they provide your body with vitamin A, but they also protect cells from free radicals, enhance the immune system and support a healthy reproductive system.

Research has demonstrated that beta carotene plays a role in skin protection as it reduces the redness of UV-induced skin and improves melasma, a dark skin discoloration that may occur on the face of pregnant women or women taking oral or patch contraceptives or hormone replacement therapy.

Intake of too much beta carotene may result in a condition called carotenodermia, which is a yellow-orange discoloration of the skin. It is usually harmless and is relieved when beta carotene intake returns to normal.


Pycnogenol is a standardized, patented ingredient harvested from the bark of the French maritime pine (Pinus pinaster) with powerful antioxidant, anti-inflammatory properties. Its main ingredient is procyanidin which is an antioxidant, and you’ll also find it in red wine, apples, grapes, berries and some nuts.

Applying Pycnogenol to skin before exposure to UV radiation can actually prevent some UV-induced damage, and applying Pycnogenol afterward can decrease the body’s inflammatory response. Additionally, Pycnogenol may help protect collagen from degradation and help improve microcirculation.

Support your skin’s health and slow skin aging by living healthily, avoiding excessive UV exposure, and nourishing your skin daily with powerful topical antioxidants.

Remember, choose antioxidant skin care formulations that contain therapeutic concentrations of antioxidants—your skin will thank you.


  1. Thanks for the neat review of carotenoids! Besides including a variety of these foods to nourish our bodies and skin with antioxidants, do you have any good recommendations for topical antioxidants?



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The Skin Radar is an online avenue which documents my tumbling thoughts, ideas and musings from my daily life, mainly based on skincare and beauty. It is designed to take the clutter out of beauty journalism to provide trustworthy and objective insights, new finds and sneak peaks- all in a beautiful and clean platform.

I test all products & treatments with age and skin colour in mind, break down the latest health fads, and source for expert opinions from international skincare leaders. All in all, my goal is to make sure that I am on top of every beauty innovation and skincare trend the world has to offer.