What are the Best Antioxidant Skin Care Treatments?

Skin Care

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.

With the plethora of different antioxidant serums out there, a woman has to wonder, which are the best?  FutureDerm investigates which gives you the best bang for your buck…

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.

2.  Best for Sensitive Skin and Rosacea (Green Tea):  Replenix by Topix Cream

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).

Skinceuticals Ce ferulic

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)

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  • Andrea

    What do you think of Cosmetic Skin Solutions Vitamin C 20 AOX? It has the exact ingredients in the same order as the Skinceuticals product.

  • Awesome post. You really know your stuff!

  • Curious P

    I would love it if you could review Shu Uemura product. Their skincare for some reason is the only one that works with my sensitive skin.
    I use the Red Juvenus concentrate as it is said to be high in antioxidants and help protect against oxidative stress. It’s really lightweight and doesn’t make me break out 🙂

  • Great post! I am all about serum with antioxidant. My favorite for the past 3 years has been Acerola 100 from DHC. I also agree with you in mixing antioxidant. I tend to use Vit. C in the summer and then something else in the colder months.

    Here is my review on Acerola 100.


  • I have thousands of my dermatology patients using Replenix CF Cream for years and can attest to it’s benefits. The combo of green tea polyphenols plus caffeine are compounded in a manner that actually works for redness, rosacea and amazingly reduction in skin precancerous lesions (if my chart notes are any indication).

    I haven’t been convinced by the coffeeberry scientific literature, but am keeping my ‘ear to the ground’. Same with the Ferulic. I also like to see antioxidants dispensed in pumps to minimize oxygen contact that can inactivate the ingredients.

    We’ll rarely see tight scientific studies of these type of cosmecuticals and so real life results are how we dermatologists are going to have to make our determinations of their value to patients and consumers.

    Nice overview of what I think are the best antioxidant options.

  • Currently I use the Paula’s Choice Super Antioxidant Serum. I was using CE Ferulic, but it made me breakout too much, so I stopped using it after a month or two. I’ve used a few other antioxidant serums (like Prevage with Idebenone, but that also made me breakout), but I haven’t actually seen any visible results from them. So I just use them for preventive reasons, which is fine, but I wish I could get more bang for my buck and actually see some sort of improvement in my skin! Maybe I’ll try something with Coffeeberry next.

  • Smara

    Great post!
    Thank You..

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