During the summer months, the skin tends to be more sensitive due to the heat and sun. Generally, it requires less active topicals and more antioxidants, which can be boosted through topicals and the right foods.
Our skin is always susceptible to free-radical exposure –– it’s inevitable no matter the season. However, we are more at risk during the summer with increased exposure to UV rays. This is where antioxidants can become powerful allies during the “dog days of summer” to counteract the impact of free radicals.
Let’s explore how antioxidants work, why they are so beneficial to the skin and how you can incorporate them into your skincare routine.
How and why antioxidants work
Antioxidants consist of vitamins, minerals and enzymes and help to prevent and repair damage to the skin by slowing or preceding free-radical damage, an oxidation process that leads to cell and tissue dysfunction. They work by disabling or neutralizing free radicals and preventing cell damage by inhibiting the oxidation of other molecules. An interesting fact, is that antioxidants are actually oxidized themselves, which is what enables them to effectively terminate oxidation chain reactions.
As we age, however, our bodies produce fewer antioxidants and more free radicals. Since antioxidants are not stored by the body, we routinely have to replenish them, both internally and topically. During the summer months, when our skin is often exposed to more damaging elements like the sun, heat, salty or chlorinated water, it’s important to focus on fortifying its natural defenses. Antioxidants offer a way to do that.
Additionally, applying antioxidants prior to sunblock helps ensure more concentrated protection against free radicals as antioxidants actually increase the SPF’s ability to work.
Adding antioxidants to your summer regimen
With antioxidants, you can’t have too much of a good thing –– particularly during the summer. Not only are they important in prevention and protection, they are also vital in fighting the signs of aging, internally and externally. Getting these nutrients naturally from superfoods is always the best option, but supplements and topicals applied to the skin also help. Important antioxidants include:
- Vitamin A – carrots, kale, spinach, pumpkin, liver, and cantaloupe
- Vitamin C – camu camu, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, guava, and citrus
- Vitamin E – olive oil, walnut oil, wheat germ oil, oats, tomatoes, and carrots
- Bioflavonoids – citrus, berries, onions, tea, red wine, dark chocolate, and sea buckthorn
- Polyphenols – berries, green tea, dark chocolate, walnuts, peanuts, pomegranates, and mangosteen
When possible, opt for organic over conventional to reduce the potential of pesticide intake as these will counteract the benefits of your antioxidants. Reducing pesticide exposure will also reduce free-radical damage and the pollutants discharged to skin cells.
Topicals containing antioxidants will also help tone, firm and refine lines. This summer look for topicals with the following ingredients to help boost your antioxidant intake:
- Glutathione –– an enzyme that protects fibroblasts and supports the maintenance of cellular antioxidants in the skin tissue.
- Superoxide dismutase –– an enzyme and antioxidant powerhouse that fights against free-radical damage.
- Grape seed oil –– a source of flavonoids, it protects capillary walls, inhibits the enzymes that break down collagen and elastin, and is a free-radical scavenger.
- Tocopherol –– a natural form of vitamin E, it is a powerful antioxidant that stimulates the immune system and helps thicken skin tissue
- Resveratrol –– a potent antioxidant from red wine, it stimulates collagen and provides toning and firming benefits
- L-Ascorbic acid –– a vitamin C derivative, it provides antioxidant and skin-brightening properties, and supports skin strengthening and collagen formation.
To keep skin hydrated, nourished and protected this season, you might consider the following home-care system:
- Creamy Milk Cleanser –– an excellent summer cleanser as it combines the hydrating benefits of rosewater and milk protein in a naturally soothing, emulsifying wash.
- Antioxidant Complex Serum ––a rich serum that blends powerful ingredients including, natural peptides, and grapeseed extract to boost immunity, promote capillary integrity, and support moisture bonding
- Mandelic Arginine Serum –– increases cellular energy and turnover, and provides antioxidant support to promote healing and skin strengthening.
- Blushed Wine Gel –– a light daytime moisturizer that uses resveratrol and grape seed oil to tone, firm and moisturize the skin as well as deliver a potent dose of antioxidant support.
- Cucumber Spritz – a natural facial spritz with moisture-binding nutrients and heavy water (D2O) to deliver moisture deep into the skin and prevent water loss.
- Daytime Defense SPF30 –– using zinc oxide, it provides natural, mineral-based broad-spectrum protection and antioxidants.
This time of year, heat also tends to get trapped in the skin. Using chilled masks and ice globes will help get any trapped heat out of the skin and ensure cells don’t get overheated or exhausted.