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What are antioxidants, can they reverse ageing?

They’re your secret weapon against ageing.

More powerful than vitamins, they knock these ingredients out of the park.

And they can even feed your skin from within.

We are, of course, talking about antioxidants.

That’s right, the most effective free-radical fighters known to humankind.

But where do these antioxidants spring from, how do they work and what can we do to harness them in our skincare?

Join us as we answer these questions and more.

Understanding free radicals.

To truly get a handle on antioxidants and their role on your skin, it is important to understand what free radicals are, and why they are the bad guys. To do this we have to get a little bit technical, so please bear with us.

Ther are many different types of free radicals, and the many biochemical reactions they go through can create new types of free radicals.

This causes these free radicals to become unstable, which causes them to become very excitable. When they get worked up, they attach themselves to healthy atoms and steal electrons, making them unstable.

When a free radical steals an electron from an atom, it creates another free radical, which may differ from the original free radical. For instance, free radicals begin as simple oxygen – this is the source of most free radicals, but because it became excitable and reactive, it needed another atom to stabilise itself.

Now, as if that isn’t enough, these free radicals can steal electrons from skin cell membranes. When this occurs the cell becomes unstable, as a result, the lipids in the cell membrane lose electrons, which makes them different free radicals known as lipid peroxides, where the lipids in your skin start to degrade,

Damage to your skin cell’s nucleus creates havoc in the skin’s tissues, leading to inflammation, premature ageing and collagen damage.

These peroxides react with other electrons, creating another free radical and so on – this chain reaction causes a dance of destruction upon your skin, creating oxidation, a subject we discuss in detail here.

Oxidation is a normal process in your body, but these biochemical reactions occur when oxidation becomes too high, which leads to premature ageing.

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are the clever guys that wage war against free radical damage and oxidative stress, by stabilising the free radicals. They do this by donating one of their own electrons to neutralise them, ending the ‘electron stealing reaction’, stopping the skin cell’s destruction.

Antioxidants can be applied to your skin directly in topical products, or they can be obtained from dietary sources:

  • vitamin E is the most abundant fat-soluble vitamin in the body and defends against oxidation and lipid peroxidation.
  • vitamin C is a water-soluble antioxidant that works primarily in cellular fluid. It also helps to return vitamin E to its natural form. Our C+ ascorbic acid complex is rich in ethyl ascorbic acid, helping to reverse much of the damage done by free radicals.

Antioxidants work to block biochemical reactions from free radicals, preventing them from becoming destructive. Because there are many types of radicals in this inflammation cascade, more then one antioxidant is required in a treatment to prevent these reactions.

This is why our products contain a well thought out blend of antioxidants, to help stop damaging free radicals in their tracks and restore the skin to a youthful, vibrant glow.

Bio lipid complex is a great example of this; its gorgeous orange colour comes from the cocktail of antioxidants within the formula, which helps prevent skin ageing.

Each antioxidant has a different role in fusing free radicals, which is why we include a mix of antioxidants in our formulas.

What are the benefits of antioxidants?

Antioxidants work by interrupting the inflammation cascade by binding electrons to the free radicals, preventing damage to the cells.

Topical preparations need to penetrate the skin’s surface barriers to reach the cell nucleus and have the desired effect. Many antioxidants also help to calm and soothe the skin, and they have also had an anti-inflammatory effect.

Antioxidants in diet

The effects antioxidants have on the body are controversial; as little as 1% of antioxidants taken orally reach the surface skin where they’re needed to carry out their protective role.

That said, a diet rich in antioxidants should always be encouraged, as their benefits are not exclusive to the skin; research shows antioxidants have other health benefits, in particular protecting against cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Types of antioxidants

So, what are some of the most effective antioxidant ingredients?

  • vitamin C, otherwise known as l-ascorbic acid or magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
  • vitamin E, known as tocopherol or tocopherol acetate
  • lichochalcone or steryl glycyrrhizinate – extracts from licorice
  • green tea and white tea extract
  • superoxide dismutase
  • grape seed extract
  • coenzyme Q10
  • sea buckthorn oil
  • raspberry seed oil

Whilst these are considered some of the most popular antioxidants in skincare, they are by no means the only ones. New and exciting antioxidants are constantly being discovered all the time, so watch this space.


Different types of antioxidants block different types of free radicals, so look for a broad-spectrum antioxidant like Glo antioxidant complex and Immortelle age delay moisturiser, have been formulated with a cocktail of antioxidants to tackle free radicals and ward off premature ageing.

Antioxidant ingredients should be protected, so they do not work before they are applied to the skin – those that aren’t will oxidise and turn brown, our lipid encapsulation method protects the antioxidant ingredients and helps with penetration.


2 thoughts on “What are antioxidants, can they reverse ageing?

  1. kate says:

    When ever I read your post I get super exited, they give me deep knowledge. Your posts are like being in a class room, thanks for this I appreciate the advice.

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