The Magic Ingredient Your Skin Needs -- Nay, Deserves -- This Summer

Three skincare experts teach us about the wonderful world of antioxidants -- and why they're essential for summer skin.

"Antioxidants are molecules that can help to prevent oxidation by counteracting free radicals," Dr Spiller skin expert and developer of Aevitas Actives Sue Dann told 10 daily.

No, 'free radicals' aren't an edgy rock band, but harmful molecules that can damage cells in the body, affecting the skin's condition and appearance.

And that's where antioxidants come into play, which essentially help to neutralise and mop up free radicals from doing harm to your skin.

"You could call them your number one skin enemy if you will," said Biologi general manager and dermal specialist Lucy Kuper.

So what causes free radicals? The sun is a big culprit as is stress, pollution, diet and smoking.

Our skin tends to bear the brunt of it all as it's our main and first line of defence against environmental elements such as sunlight and pollution, Dann explained.

Excessive free-radical damage causes a host of skin issues such as wrinkles, redness, pigmentation, dryness and decreased elasticity and firmness, said Skinstitut expert Zoe Devine.

Devine adds that the skin's ability to produce collagen -- a protein that keeps your face firm, plump and gorgeous -- is also affected by free radicals. 

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Antioxidants are like the body's security guards, working from the inside out to stop free radicals before they attack. They are essential to protect skin, particularly during the warmer summer months after sun exposure.

Key ingredients

So where can we get ourselves some of these antioxidants, and quick?

"For many years, long-term research suggested that a healthy and balanced diet will provide enough antioxidants for general good skin and body health," Dann told 10 daily.

But -- and it's a big but -- not everyone has the 'perfect' healthy and balanced diet. Nor do we live in a pollution-free environment, or avoid the sun religiously. It's just not possible.

That's why we often need a little antioxidant boost in the form of skincare, such as serums, creams, cleansers and mists. 

When picking an antioxidant-rich product look for hero ingredients like vitamins A, C, E as well as green tea and Coenzyme Q10 -- also known as CoQ10.

"All of these are antioxidants but they can have different effects on the skin," Dann said.

Green tea is known to be anti-inflammatory, while CoQ10 energises and firms skin she said.

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Vitamins A, C and E are great for anti-ageing -- Devine loves vitamin E in particular.

"Vitamin E is an integral antioxidant that protects the skin against UV radiation and other free radicals -- it provides a photoprotective effect which is why it's perfect for the summer months," she said.

Before you start slathering on the nearest antioxidant cream or serum Dann has a gentle word of warning.

"Low levels of Vitamins C and A are extremely beneficial to skin, but in higher levels, they can irritate skin as they are now more potent," Dann explained.

Devine told 10 daily that "low-intensity nourishing and strengthening products" are best.

There's a bit of a misconception that antioxidants are only for mature skin but don't be fooled as it's wise to start using an antioxidant-rich product to keep skin healthy and protected.

"Antioxidants are beneficial across all ages and skin types," Dann said.

Experts' Top antioxidant-Packed product picks

Aevitas Actives BB Finishing Cream, $65.

Image: Aevitas Actives.

"This colour-adjusting and brightening formula from the all-new silicone-free Aevitas Actives range is jam-packed with natural, mineral and organic ingredients and is silicone free -- apply each morning to complete your skincare regime," said Dann.

Biologi Bd Face Luminosity Serum, $97.95.

Image: Biologi.

"This is literally a storehouse of antioxidants and will leave your skin looking radiant. [It also offers] hydration, reduces skin blemishes and strengthens skin cells. Apply the serum before your sunscreen and you’re good to go," said Kuper.

Skinstitut Gentle Cleanser, $34.30.

Image: Skinstitut.

"This soothing and replenishing cleanser calms reactive skin while restoring much-needed antioxidants, particularly Vitamin E. A few of nature’s potent antioxidant sources are also added including green tea extract and goji berry extract. Use this daily to remove make-up and environmental pollutants," said Devine.

Dermalogica Antioxidant Hydramist, $66.

Image: Dermalogica.

Along with your fave SPF, this refreshing mist is a beach-bag must-have -- it creates an antioxidant 'shield' to protect from pesky free radicals generated by the harsh sun. It's also great for setting makeup.

Feature image: Getty.