Antioxidants are perhaps the most universally loved group of compounds by skin experts, outside of sunscreen. Antioxidants are a flexible addition to any skincare program because of their capacity to protect the skin from harm caused by free radicals (those unstable molecules that take electrons from healthy cells to stabilize themselves, weakening your innocent skin cells in the process).

There are several antioxidants to select from when it comes to adopting one into your daily regimen. While they all serve the same purpose of preserving your skin from oxidative stress, combining antioxidants with additional compounds can be beneficial to your skin. It’s all about figuring out which one is right for your skin type and issues.

To discover everything you need to know about antioxidants, we met with Dr. Mona Gohara, a Connecticut-based dermatologist and associate professor of Dermatology at Yale School of Medicine, and Jennifer Kennedy, a registered nurse at Manhattan’s famed PFRANKMD by Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank. They also offer their top antioxidant products for all skin types. 

What Are Antioxidants and How Do They Work?

To comprehend why antioxidants are so crucial for your skin, you must first comprehend how they function. “Antioxidants are the toughest working component in the game,” explains Dr. Gohara. “Antioxidants’ main goal is to protect your cells against free radicals by donating some of their electrons, effectively acting as a natural ‘off’ switch for free radicals.”

Every day, your skin is attacked by environmental aggressors that can induce oxidative stress, including as pollution in the air and blue light from your computer screen. Over time, the damage accumulates. According to Kennedy, “oxidative stress can cause premature wrinkles, elastin loss, decreased moisture, increased pigmentation, and a deterioration in the moisture barrier.”

If you want to protect yourself from free radical damage, any antioxidant will suffice. However, each of the six tried-and-true substances listed below provides a variety of skin-beneficial properties.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) is well-known for its anti-oxidant properties and its ability to collaborate with other free-radical fighters to increase efficacy. “Vitamin C is known to help with issues including uneven skin tone, rough texture, fine wrinkles, acne scars, and general dullness,” adds Dr. Gohara.

Kennedy makes a point Vitamin C is most effective when combined with other antioxidants such as vitamin E and ferulic acid, an organic substance present in the cell walls of plants such as oats, brown rice, and apples. Vitamin C is also an excellent supplement to your everyday sun protection routine. SPF protects you from UV radiation from the sun, but it doesn’t protect you from free radicals. When you combine an antioxidant like vitamin C with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, your skin will be adequately protected.

With a combination of 15% vitamin C and vitamin E, this serum helps with hyperpigmentation caused by sun damage, aging, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. It also uses a mix of natural botanicals to aid in brightening, including kojic acid, bearberry, fruit enzymes, and turmeric, which also help prevent future breakouts and minimize the look of fine lines and rough texture.

This unique moisturizer was created with an active lifestyle in mind, using a stable, oil-soluble form of vitamin C that promotes collagen synthesis. It absorbs rapidly and hydrates from within, rather than lying on top of the skin, so it won’t leave a greasy residue or slide into your eyes, causing that dreaded mid-workout sting. Prebiotics, creatine, and whey protein help to invigorate, strengthen, and firm the skin.

This light serum from one of our favorite eco-friendly products is moisturizing, brightening, and skin-smoothing. This mild serum improves skin’s texture, tone, and firmness without creating the irritation that certain vitamin C solutions can cause. It can be used alone as a moisturizer or layered under your preferred cream or sunscreen to boost their effectiveness.

Vitamin E

If you have dry skin, Dr. Gohara recommends vitamin E as an antioxidant since it has hydrating and anti-inflammatory properties. Vitamin E is also known for its wound-healing properties, making it a good choice for those who suffer from sensitivity and irritation, according to Kennedy. Tocopherol is a name that you’ll see on ingredient labels a lot. It works best with antioxidants like vitamin C and resveratrol, according to Kennedy.

Dermatologists recommend this serum, which contains vitamin C, E, and ferulic acid, as the best antioxidant protection because of its multi-functional anti-aging impact. A word of caution: It has a stench to it that takes some getting used to, but we swear it’s worth it if you can get beyond the strong odour.

This hydrating sunscreen was created with melanin-rich skin in mind. It protects against free radical damage caused by outdoor pollution, UV rays, and blue light from your devices with an antioxidant combination of niacinamide and vitamin E. It is very sheer and absorbs immediately.

The face isn’t the only part of your body that requires antioxidant protection. Oxidative stress can also affect your delicate lip area. Vitamin E’s capacity to moisturize and protect against free radicals is one of its best qualities, which these stunning new tinted balms from Róen do expertly. These provide lips a plush texture and glossy color that looks as good as it feels, thanks to a blend of reparative and protecting plant oils and waxes.


Dr. Gohara explains that niacinamide is one of two major forms of vitamin B3. “Acne, rosacea, pigmentation disorders, and wrinkles are all treated with it.” Niacinamide can also aid to strengthen your skin barrier and enhance long-term skin health, according to Kennedy. Its anti-inflammatory characteristics make it an excellent substance for those who suffer from pimples and blackheads.

This daily treatment is high in niacinamide, magnesium, zinc, and copper, and comes in a glass bottle with a refillable airless pump to reduce waste. They smooth, soothe, and minimize redness in even the most sensitive skin when used together.

With this lightweight serum, you can improve the luminosity and texture of your skin over time. This product is enhanced with a proprietary algae concentrate that controls excess oil and shine, as well as the brand’s distinctive alguronic acid to moisturize and decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Niacinamide is also included in the composition to help balance out the texture and tone of your skin.

This pore-purifying toner contains niacinamide, which helps to build your moisture barrier and smooth your skin’s general texture, while green tea extract protects you from free radicals. For an airbrushed effect, mushroom extract and rosa canina extract reduce oiliness and eliminate pores without drying out your face.


Due of the large amount of clinical study around it, Kennedy considers retinol (also known as vitamin A) to be her “hands-down favorite antioxidant.” She continues, “Retinol aids cell turnover, promotes collagen, accelerates cell renewal, and repairs damaged DNA.”

Because it might be harsh on delicate skin, it’s better to start with tiny dosages (0.25 percent) and gradually increase the strength and frequency. When using a retinol product, make sure to apply an SPF of 35 or higher because it can make your skin more sensitive to the sun. If you choose a higher-concentration retinol product, use it in the evening instead of the day, and replace it with an antioxidant like vitamin C.

This retinol for daytime is the ideal combination of antioxidants, hydration, and radiance. It contains a stabilized retinol derivative, as well as a blend of additional antioxidants including as niacinamide, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid (for which the brand is well-known). They act together to even skin tone, stimulate cellular turnover, improve skin texture, moisturize, plump, and firm the skin while also protecting it from free radicals. It also has a responsible mica alternative that gives your skin a “shimmery sunbeam appearance.”

This anti-aging cream combines peptides, vitamins, and oils with 1% vegan retinol to give skin a more even tone and texture without the irritation that retinol is known for. As the retinol works its magic, marula, apricot, jojoba, and passionfruit oils help to rebuild the skin’s lipid barrier and hydrate. The peptide trio tightens and strengthens the skin, giving it a more youthful appearance.

Niacinamide and retinol are combined in this strong nighttime lotion to help soothe, decrease irritation, and smooth skin. While you sleep, the rich cream takes advantage of your skin’s nocturnal reparative cycle to firm, brighten, moisturize, and fortify it.


Polyphenols are a varied category of chemical substances found in plants and fruits that are powerful antioxidants. “There are thousands of polyphenols,” Kennedy notes, citing resveratrol, green tea, and black tea as examples. “Antioxidant powerhouses like these are fantastic for restoring sun-damaged skin.” They offer anti-inflammatory and skin-calming characteristics, making them an excellent choice for skin that is easily inflamed.

For all skin types, this lightweight, fast-absorbing serum drenches thirsty skin in oil-free moisture and grape polyphenols for all-day protection and hydration.

This lotion contains 1% hyaluronic acid, full-spectrum CBD extracted from hemp, and a beautiful array of flower essences. It softens your skin and protects it from free radicals. The light texture hydrates without feeling sticky, while hibiscus peptides boost radiance for a radiant, plumped, and smooth skin.

The polyphenol punch of this waterless oil serum comes from plum seed oil obtained from France, and it’s been proved to be very good at combating oxidative stress. It’s also anti-inflammatory and moisturizing, giving skin a plumping and firming effect both immediately and over time. It’s blended with bakuchiol, a natural retinol alternative, nourishing dragon fruit seed oil, barrier-repairing camellia seed, and licorice root extract to fade dark spots. They provide your skin a balanced, polished, and radiant appearance when used together.

Hyaluronic Acid

WheWhen people think about hyaluronic acid, their first thought is usually focused on its hydrating qualities. After all, it can hold 1000 times its weight in water and draw hydration into the skin. However, recent research has shown that HA is also a supremely effective antioxidant that scavenges free radicals and keeps skin in peak health, allowing it to better defend itself from environmental aggressors. “Hyaluronic acid protects against free radical damage and promotes wound healing,” explains Dr. Gohara. “It works to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while also maintaining moisture in the skin, giving it a plumping effect. Increased skin cell creation occurs often when skin is protected and hydrated, resulting in softer, smoother, and more youthful skin.”

1.5 percent hyaluronic acid, peptides, and pro-vitamin B5 make up this anti-aging serum (a deeply hydrating moisturizer with anti-inflammatory qualities). It plumps fine wrinkles and restores skin hydration for an instantly smoother, more youthful appearance.

Hyaluronic acid, marine kelp, and lemon fruit water are all found in these liquid drops (which is rich in vitamin C). The shimmery bronze tone offers skin of all shades a gentle glow, and a few drops mixed with your favorite moisturizer can be applied all over. You may also apply it as a highlighter on your cheekbones, bridge of your nose, and chin.

Hyaluronic acid, squalane, proteins, and organically produced oils make up this daily lotion. It delivers immediate surface hydration as well as longer-lasting moisturization. It also aids in the strengthening of your skin’s barrier, allowing it to better retain moisture over time. With constant application, the skin becomes healthier and more radiant.

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