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In today’s society, if you’re old enough to read this post, chances are, you’ve spent a day (or night) under stress, without a full night’s sleep and being exposed to toxins like excess UV light, pollution, alcohol, cigarette smoke, fast food, etc. Lucky for you, there are antioxidants, which prevent toxin- and stress-induced free radicals from destroying collagen, one of the proteins that keeps skin looking plump, lifted, and unwrinkled. The body naturally produces antioxidants, or one can acquire them from her diet or a supplement. However, antioxidant levels may also be increased in the skin via topical application.
1. Most Potent Antioxidant (CoffeeBerry): RevaleSkin CoffeeBerry
Derived from the coffee cherry of the Coffea arabica plant when it is still green and “sub-ripe”, CoffeeBerry Extract contains an extremely high concentration of polyphenols. So high, in fact, that CoffeeBerry Extract has been found to have the highest antioxidant potential of any ingredient, as published in the journal Dermatologic Therapy, based on its Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity Score (ORAC) — a method developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as the standard to measure the antioxidant capacity of natural substances. This means CoffeeBerry is a better antioxidant than green tea, white tea, vitamin C, vitamin E, grape seed extract or idebenone.
A relatively new antioxidant (CoffeeBerry started to be included in products in 2002), CoffeeBerry can be found in the RevaleSkin line ($134.00 for the cleanser, day cream and night cream – excellent value!, Amazon.com) and PRIORI CoffeeBerry Products ($61.00-85.00, Amazon.com). I personally have used the RevaleSkin line in the past, and cannot say enough wonderful things about it.
Yes, there are more potent antioxidants than green tea – even white tea has more antioxidant potential. However, the key to why so many dermatologists recommend Replenix by Topix Cream ($48.00, Amazon.com) is not the fact that the cream contains green tea, but rather the parts of green tea that are included. Replenix by Topix Cream contains a very high concentration of green tea polyphenols, the active compounds of green tea (the most popular of which is epigallocatechin gallate). The polyphenols in green tea have been found in a 2003 study in Molecular Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention to prevent UVB-induced oxidation of lipids and proteins in mice. In addition, adds Dr. Gary Goldfaden, M.D. in a recent publication, “The use of a lotion containing a tea extract can produce a 70% improvement in rosacea compared to use of a lotion containing the base ingredients alone.” One note of interest: while the cream contains “90% green tea polyphenols” as an ingredient, this does not mean that Replenix by Topix Cream is 90% green tea polyphenols. Rather, a “90% green tea polyphenol” compound is added as an ingredient in Replenix by Topix Cream after water, glycerol stearate and seven other ingredients, so I would safely estimate that the true concentration of green tea polyphenols is less than 10%. Nevertheless, it’s still safe to say that the concentration of polyphenols is higher than it is in the majority of green tea-based treatments out there. P.S. – If you are looking for a one-two punch of antioxidants and gold-standard anti-ager retinol, there is now Topix Replenix Retinol with green tea polyphenols, available in varying strengths, 3x ($60.00, Amazon.com) and 10x ($80.00, Amazon.com).
3. Best for Boosting UV Protection and Reducing Sunspots Simultaneously (Vitamins C and E): Skinceuticals CE Ferulic
I think that it’s safe to say Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($120.00, Amazon.com) is one of my all-time favorite products. The product is actually backed by an independent 2003 study by Lin et. al. which affirmed that a solution of 15% L-ascorbic acid and 1% alpha-tocopherol increases photoprotection against damaging UV rays and free radical formation. Skinceuticals CE Ferulic has also been reported in independent studies to reduce the existence of up to 96% of sunburned cells.
4. Best Inexpensive Antioxidant Serum: Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum
Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum ($24.95, PaulasChoice.com) is an excellent choice because it contains a high concentration of vitamin C (as stable tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate) and vitamin E (as tocopherol), as well as a slew of other antioxidants, such as ubiquitin and green tea. For the money, it is a solid antioxidant serum that will not disappoint!
5. Best New Antioxidant (L-Ergothioniene): Remergent Clarifying Skin Brightener
If you’re someone who is over the tried and true, always looking for what’s new, look no further than Remergent Clarifying Skin Brightener ($29.90, Amazon.com). According to a 2007 study in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, L-ergothioneine (EGT) was more effective at scavenging free radicals than popular antioxidant idebenone. EGT, a stable antioxidant found in food plants as well as in animal tissue, is only found in limited products, and I have only seen it in Remergent Clarifying Skin Brightener.
6. Best Certified Organic “Natural” Serum: Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum
With a high concentration of grape juice, soothing aloe, network antioxidants ubiquinone, vitamin C, and vitamin E, firming DMAE, cell turnover-inspiring retinyl palmitate, and hydrating sodium hyaluronate — plus the assurance of certified organic ingredients — what’s not to love about Juice Beauty Antioxidant Serum ($45.00, Amazon.com)?! Plus, for those of you Kermits who eat, breathe, and sleep green eco-consciousness, the “certified organic” label guarantees 95-100% of ingredients must meet USDA organic standards for food. Definitely a hot buy.
The Bottom Line
We’ve all committed sins against our skin, but antioxidants are one fine way to repent and renew. I swear by Skinceuticals CE Ferulic under sunscreen for day and adore the RevaleSkin line with retinol-containing products at night, but numerous combinations of free-radical fighting antioxidants work. In fact, according to some dermatologists, it is actually better to mix different kinds of antioxidants, as they tend to work on different free radical-fighting pathways or portions of the pathways. Mixing antioxidants therefore seems to ensure better protection and repair. With that said, do you have any favorite antioxidant treatments? Know of any great antioxidants you’d love to see up for review? Feel free to write in Comments below!
Photo: Stuart Stevenson (Flickr)