Why you need to use antioxidants in your skincare routine

Why you need to use antioxidants in your skincare routine


Antioxidants are all the rage these days. We hear this word thrown around in blogs, articles, cooking shows and on skin care labels.

Red wine! Chocolate! Blueberries! Vitamin C! Vitamin E!

But what is the hype about and what does it mean for our skin health and how we age?

What are antioxidants?

Antioxidants are molecules that fight free radicals and reduce oxidative stress in the body.

In order to understand what they are and how they function, we need to know exactly what free radicals are and how oxidative stress affects the cells in our body.

Free radicals are molecules with an uneven number of electrons. This allows them to steal electrons from other molecules making them unstable (oxidation).

Under normal circumstances free radicals are beneficial, for instance when helping to fight infection or encouraging the body to repair muscle cells from micro-damage after exercising.

They become damaging when too many free radicals are floating around, causing an abundance of oxidation.


Oxidation is what causes apples to turn brown after slicing - the same process that is damaging your cells. Yikes! We don’t want that!

Oxidative stress is a regular occurrence in the human body. According to PubMed, oxidative stress is “defined as a disturbance in the balance between the production of reactive oxygen species (free radicals) and antioxidant defenses.”  

But if oxidation and oxidative stress are not kept in check by antioxidants, illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, and certain eye diseases can occur.

They also speed up the aging process in our skin (remember the apples?) causing wrinkles, sagging skin, and uneven tone.

But if oxidation and oxidative stress are not kept in check by antioxidants, they can speed up the aging process in our skin, causing wrinkles, sagging skin, and uneven tone

Where do free radicals come from and how can we prevent them from damaging our cells?

Pollution, UV exposure, and cigarette smoke all cause an excess of free radicals.

Everyone knows those things are terrible for our skin but there are other sources as well, like alcohol, trans-fats, and even bodily processes such as mental and physical stress.

Antioxidants are what combat free radicals and are necessary to prevent cellular damage caused by oxidation and oxidative stress.

Vitamins A, C, and E, ubiquinone (CoEnzyme Q10), beta carotene, lutein, and lycopene are all antioxidants. These are very stable molecules that are able to neutralize free radicals by sharing an electron, while not becoming unstable themselves. They are superstars in the world of cells!

How can we use antioxidants?

Antioxidants are found in many foods and are particularly high in plants. Fruits, vegetables, and nuts are excellent sources of antioxidants, especially those rich in color such as berries, dark leafy greens, and tomatoes.

Oral intake of foods with high levels of antioxidants can help the body fight free radicals to prevent or reverse cellular damage.

Consuming a wide range of antioxidants from various whole food sources and supplements can help mitigate or lessen the complications from health concerns such as diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease.

Topical antioxidants perform a similar function to our skin as eating a colorful, plant based diet does for our body.

Topical antioxidants perform a similar function to our skin as eating a colorful, plant based diet does for our body.

How are free radicals produced in the skin and how can topical antioxidants help? 

The skin is the largest organ in the body and is our body’s first source of defense against germs, pollution, radiation, and UV exposure.

Unless we are living in a bubble, we come into contact with these things daily, which causes our cells to form free radicals, and can lead to wrinkles, sagging skin, dryness, and overall increased appearance of aging.

Inflammation and irritation are also symptoms of cell damage due to free radicals and oxidation.

“It can be concluded that oxidative stress is a problem of skin cells, and ... antioxidants could play an important role in decreasing it. However, it is important to pretreat the skin with antioxidants before sun exposure. Animal and human studies have convincingly demonstrated pronounced photoprotective effects of “natural” and synthetic antioxidants when applied topically before UVR exposure”, according to an article in Dermatology Research and Practice.

We have known for years that use of sunscreen is important for combating damage caused by the sun’s rays, but, using topical antioxidants prior to exposure can also help to prevent sun damage and slow the signs of aging.

There are many over the counter options available today ranging from vitamin C facial serums to retinol infused creams to cold pressed, natural oils like argan, rosehip, pomegranate, camellia, and avocado oils.

Food for the body, food for the skin.

Just as eating whole foods is so beneficial to our bodies in providing nutrients and antioxidants in order to prevent illness and disease, oils extracted from fruits and nuts using a cold press method will nourish our skin and allow the cells to absorb the same antioxidants that can help prevent external damage.

What is a cold pressed oil?

Cold pressing involves the use of mechanical pressure to extract the oil from fruits, nuts, and seeds without the use of heat. Heat can destroy the beneficial nutrients and vitamins which the body uses as antioxidants to prevent cellular damage.

Cold pressing preserves all of the natural oil soluble constituents of the whole food.

Papillon Organic Face Oil

What antioxidants can be found in cold pressed oils?

Argan oil, such as Papillon Organics Certified Organic Cold Pressed Argan Oil, is pressed from the kernels of the fruit of the argan tree which is native to Africa. According to Healthline, “Argan oil is rich in vitamin E, or tocopherol, a fat-soluble vitamin that serves as a potent antioxidant to reduce the damaging effects of free radicals. Other compounds present in argan oil, such as CoQ10, melatonin and plant sterols, also play a role in its antioxidant capacity.”

Rosehip seed oil is packed with antioxidants. Although some sources claim it contains vitamin C because rosehips themselves are a wonderful source of vitamin C, the seed oil does not, as vitamin C is water soluble. It does however have very high levels of carotenoids and vitamin E. “The most abundant of these [carotenoids] is β-carotene and lycopene, followed by β-cryptoxanthin, rubixanthin, zeaxanthin and lutein. Carotenoids are very important in the human diet as they act as provitamin A and can prevent certain chronic diseases and even cancer,” according to the International Journal of Molecular Science

Papillon Organic Pomegranate Oil

Pomegranates are a superfood. The oil pressed from pomegranate seeds is a superfood for skin. It contains high levels of an omega-5 fatty acid called punicic acid which has great antioxidant and anti-inflammatory action, in addition to containing vitamin E and phytosterols. Papillon Organics offers a nourishing Certified Organic Cold Pressed Pomegranate oil that is unrefined and boasts all the goodness of the superfood itself.

Camellia (also called tea seed, from the same plant that produces powerfully healthful green, white, and black teas!) and avocado oils are also full of wonderful antioxidants and free radical scavengers such as vitamin E, vitamin A, and multiple beneficial fatty acids. Papillon Organics offers a full line of certified organic or wildcrafted, cold pressed superfood oils, including camellia and avocado oils.

Papillon Organic Avocado Oil

Who Benefits from Using Topical Antioxidants?

All skin can benefit from topical antioxidants, but as we get older our skin cells are not as efficient in their metabolic function, as is the case in our other organs, which is why we can physically see and feel a change in our skin and health as we age.

By adding antioxidants to our skin care routine we can help slow down and prevent some of the damage caused by all of the physical stressors we meet daily like pollution and UV rays. 

Natural cold pressed oils are exceptionally easy to use, safe, and are suitable for all types of skin ranging from dry, sensitive, oily, acne prone, or combination. 

Do your skin a favor and prevent premature aging, free radical damage, and inflammation by trying one (or several!) of these powerhouse oils today!   

Written by Carol Clark

 Carol is a cosmetic formulator who focuses   on natural and organic solutions to current   skin care needs. With an education from the   University of Michigan and Formula   Botanica,  she has a penchant for research   and demystifying the science that surrounds   skin care today.