What Do Antioxidants Do?

Just what is an antioxidant when it’s at home? We know that we ought to be getting as many antioxidants into our diet as possible, but just what purpose do they serve? And - what do they do for your skin?

What Do Antioxidants Do?

Antioxidants are the underdog of the skincare world.

Antioxidants are molecules which fight free radicals in your body. We can introduce them to our bodies through diet or through topical application (hiya, serums). Antioxidants are often found in the food which we eat on a daily basis. They do the job of fighting free radicals, which, when left to their own awful devices, can wreak havoc on your body.

Vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, selenium, and zinc are all antioxidants which we take in through our food - but if they sound familiar, it’s because they are also present in a lot of skincare!

What Are Free Radicals?

Free radicals are unpaired molecules, which means that they are unstable - not good. Jam those safety goggles on, because we’re digging back into Leaving Cert chemistry class.

Our bodies and our world is basically an enormous, on-going chemical reaction - life is a free radical exposure site. Chemical reactions occur as a result of the food we eat, air we breathe, water we drink, if we smoke, drink alcohol, exist in a polluted atmosphere - the list goes on.

Free radicals are also the result of chemical processes in our body, so they’re unavoidable. When a reaction occurs, sometimes this results in molecules splitting and leaving unpaired molecules - our pals, free radicals. These free radicals can attack the body on the hunt for another electron to pair with, which is where damage can occur. Free radical damage leads to premature ageing, as well as a host of other problems, which is why antioxidants are always welcome.

What Are Antioxidants?

Antioxidants are the heroes who enter our body and take one for the team by pairing off with these free radicals, stopping their reign of terror in our bodies. Which means that the more antioxidants in your body or on your skin, the better things are for you.

When it comes to diet, fruit and vegetables are all high in antioxidants. Foods like strawberries, blueberries, kidney beans, black beans, plums, and dark, leafy greens are all rich in antioxidants (and delicious to boot).

Why Apply Antioxidants To Your Skin?

Applying antioxidants to your skin can fight free radicals, and neutralise reactions which might otherwise induce or aggravate dermatoses - which is a nerdie word for a disease of the skin. They can also diminish signs of ageing, reduce inflammation, protect your skin from potential disease, brighten skin tone, and even help skin to repair!

Is there anything they can’t do?

Superstar Antioxidants

We don’t have a hall of fame of antioxidants (yet), but we do have some favourites.

Vitamin C

This potent antioxidant pairs with free radicals in your skin, but is also stellar at reducing the appearance of pigmentation, and for anti-ageing benefits too. It needs to be carefully stored, as it can lose its potency fast, if it’s not stored somewhere cool and dark. If you’re using a vitamin-C based product, we would advise against opening it until you’re ready to start using it.

The Vital C range from IMAGE is an ideal source of Vitamin C. Our choice would be IMAGE Vital C Hydrating Antioxidant A C E Serum. It also contains vitamins A and E, and the vitamin C within it is in a very stable form.

Vitamin A

Retinol, or vitamin A, is one of the best ingredients for skin health. It normalises sebum production, improves the appearance of pores, reduces inflammation, prompts skin proliferation and promotes cell renewal. It’s also a powerful antioxidant to boot, and is a very important ingredient for all skin types, although it is not usable by pregnant hoomans.

Skingredients Skin Protein contains retinyl palmitate, which is a gentler form of vitamin A. It is converted to retinoic acid in the skin, but it is suitable for more sensitive skin, which can be an issue with retinol. Retinyl palmitate is still an antioxidant, and Skin Protein also contains the powerful antioxidants rooibos tea extract, green tea extract, vitamin E, and vitamin C.


You have probably heard that green tea is an excellent source of antioxidants, and the word on the street is true. It can protect the skin from environmental factors when applied topically. Rooibos tea is another great source of antioxidants.

The IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Antioxidant Serum contains Japanese green tea (nerdie name: camellia sinesis, or epigallocatechin gallate), as well as a blend of other potent antioxidants. It’s vegan friendly, too!


Niacinamide is the same as vitamin B - another super potent antioxidant, which fights free radicals as well as providing a host of other benefits.

Niacinamide is key when it comes to maintaining a healthy epidermis, and keeping your skin barrier stable and fully functional. It improves skin texture and tone, and is a powerful antioxidant, too! It is suitable for all skin types and is often recommended to acne and rosacea sufferers as it can help with inflammation, as well as reducing the appearance of fine lines.

Skin Formulas Vit A Serum is an ideal serum for combining Vitamin A with niacinamide. This powerful serum is formulated with botanical retinoid and niacinamide, to stimulate your skin’s natural collagen and elastin production. It also increases skin firmness, and evens skin tone.


You can also include supplements in your life through supplementation. Solgar Nutri Nano COQ-10 3.1 Supplements contain a potent antioxidant which can also help to improve your energy levels.

Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Vit A+ is another great option for bumping up your antioxidants and giving your body the vitamin A which it might not be getting otherwise. We’re all familiar with a vitamin C supplement, particularly if we have a cold threatening - but we particularly enjoy Advanced Nutrition Programme Skin Vit C for getting an antioxidant boost, while also prompting collagen production!

Oxidative stress (our body’s response to oxygen) is the thing that causes free radicals to go about their merry way, but due to life taking place largely on earth, until Elon Musk gets his way, it’s going to be something that we have to deal with. We can counter free radicals by introducing antioxidants into our diets and topically onto our skin. Moderation is everything - but we could probably all do with a bit more antioxidant goodness in our lives, and on our skin!