It’s likely you’ve already heard of antioxidants. But do you actually know what they’re for and what they do for your skin? And do you know how to get enough of them to really reap the benefits?
In this article, Laboratoires FILORGA’s experts will tell you everything you need to know about antioxidants, such as how they help combat oxidative and environmental stresses, and how they can maintain youthful, glowing skin.
Let us help you understand the benefits of what have become essential ingredients in cosmetic treatments.
So, what’s oxidative stress?
To fully understand how the skin benefits from antioxidants, we need to understand what oxidative stress is and how antioxidants work against it.
When we breathe, we use oxygen. This oxygen is used in our cells to release the energy contained in the nutrients we absorb from our food. This process is called cellular respiration.
Now, picture an open fire. Wood burns in the presence of oxygen whilst also releasing toxic gases and fumes. It’s more or less the same in cells: the energy released from nutrients can be compared to combustion, which goes hand in hand with the generation of by-products, the main ones being free radicals. These extremely unstable chemical compounds are toxic to cells. In order to stabilise themselves, they attack the membranes, proteins, and DNA found in cells, which in turn causes these to become destabilised.
As nature knows best, our bodies of course have a number of defensive mechanisms that serve to neutralise these free radicals. One of these is to produce antioxidants or find them in our food. When the amount of free radicals is offset by the supply of antioxidants, the cell achieves a state of equilibrium. This is called homeostasis. However, when the amount of free radicals exceeds the supply of antioxidants, our bodies experience oxidative stress, which can be harmful — especially to our skin.
Why should antioxidants be included in cosmetic treatments?
By countering oxidative stress, antioxidants protect the skin from external stresses and prevent skin ageing. But how can we make sure that our bodies produce enough of these vital substances? And are we getting enough through our diets to adequately protect ourselves? Our experts have the answers.
Endogenous antioxidants (those we produce)
While our bodies do produce antioxidants, largely as enzymes, unfortunately our modern lifestyles leave us exposed to far too many free radicals for our natural defences to cope with on their own. UV radiation, pollution, stress, and smoking all increase oxidative stress.
Also, free radical production in the skin increases with age while the ability of skin cells to repair themselves diminishes.
As we age, it’s clear that we can no longer rely on our natural defences to counter oxidative stress, particularly if we’re exposed to factors that compound the problem.
Exogenous antioxidants (those we eat)
One way of helping is through what we eat. Dietary antioxidants effectively play a major role in ensuring oxidative balance. Some of the most potent are:
- Vitamin C. Found in abundance in citrus fruits, kiwis, and, in smaller quantities, in leafy greens.
- Vitamin E. Mainly found in nuts and nut-based products (oils, spreads, etc.), avocados, and seeds.
- Beta-carotene. This gives all orange vegetables (carrots, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, etc.) their distinctive colour.
- Found readily in meat, fish, pulses, and yoghurt.
- Found most abundantly in Brazil nuts.
However, over the decades, our diets have become progressively less nutritious (even if they’re balanced) due to intensive farming and the prevalence of processed foods. This means that they don’t provide as many antioxidants as they used to.
It can be tempting to get antioxidants from dietary supplements, but there’s a high risk of taking excessive doses, and taking too many antioxidants could actually have precisely the opposite effect, according to this study by Pilar Galan and Serge Hercberg. Not only could oxidative stress develop, but a number of researchers have demonstrated that taking oral antioxidant-based dietary supplements has, at best, no impact on skin ageing, and, at worst, can unbalance the ongoing and highly complex chemical reactions that occur in our cells.
What do skincare professionals recommend?
Although our diets and natural defences may no longer be able to protect us from oxidative stress as we age, dermatologists and aesthetic doctors concur that creams and serums containing antioxidants can help counter the effects of ageing, as the molecules contained in these products are more easily metabolised by the skin.
To properly protect your skin, Laboratoires FILORGA’s experts thus recommend daily use of antioxidant-rich skincare treatments before, during, and after exposure to the sun.
Antioxidants used by FILORGA
In the following lines, we present the antioxidants we include in our HYDRA-AOX serum, formulated to correct the first signs of aging and protect skin from external aggressors.
Our ergothioneine, vitamin B3, and vitamin E complex
Developed by Laboratoires FILORGA, this complex combines three powerful antioxidants:
- This plant-based amino acid protects the skin from UV radiation.
- Nicotinamide (or vitamin B3). This has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. It strengthens the epidermal barrier and also targets hyperpigmentation.
- Alpha-tocopherol (or vitamin E). This neutralises free radicals.
To achieve optimal synergy and effectiveness, the concentrations of each ingredient were determined in vitro.
Vitamin C (or l-ascorbic acid) is a highly valued active anti-ageing ingredient. Its sole weakness is that it’s volatile when exposed to air, making it difficult to store. To overcome this problem and ensure its stability, Laboratoires FILORGA combines vitamin C with glucose to form a molecule called Ascorbyl Glucoside. It has numerous qualities, such as:
- Neutralising free radicals.
- Stimulating collagen and elastin synthesis. These are the proteins that provide the skin with tone and suppleness.
- Strengthening the skin barrier.
- Regulating melanin production and helping reduce the occurrence of hyperpigmentation.
When it comes to vitamin C, customers are often puzzled by the fact that such a beneficial active ingredient never exceeds a certain concentration in our products. Quite simply, this is because a high concentration doesn’t necessarily mean greater effectiveness, so high doses aren’t necessary. This is true of all our active ingredients, whose ideal concentrations are decided upon following rigorous cosmetic testing.
Astaxanthin is a natural red-orange pigment obtained by grinding and then drying the microalgae Haematococcus pluvialis. It is a carotenoid.
- Inhibits the creation of free radicals.
- Activates the body’s cellular antioxidant defence system, meaning it instructs cells to produce more antioxidants.
- Stimulates the propagation of skin cells.
Astaxanthin also helps protect the skin from the adverse effects of UV radiation. This shows, as mentioned above, that applying an antioxidant-based cream is a simple and effective step to take before going out in the sun.
Learn all about our flagship ingredient, NCEF [New Cellular Encapsulated Factors], which is rich in vitamins C and E as well as glutathione.
Learn more about HYDRA-AOX.