Fight free radicals! Antioxidants in cosmetics

Antioxidants: Vitamin C, resveratrol, tocopherol (Vitamin E). We all think we know them, but do we really? Where do they come from? What are they for? How to use them?

Their origin

Plants made it happen. They have created these amazing molecules during the evolution of Life. As they needed sunlight to live, they were constantly exposed to very high levels of UV induced free radicals. They found a secret weapon: antioxidants. These molecules act as “sponges”, instantly capturing free radicals and preventing their damaging effects on cells. Over 7000 of these high detox molecules have been discovered up to now, and many of them have been used in traditional medicine (green tea, coffee, rosemary, apples, …).

How to measure the antioxidant capacity?

The efficacy of plant antioxidants is usually evaluated with their ORAC value (Oxygen radical absorbance capacity). This index is measured through in vitro tests. It was used by the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) to evaluate a wide range of food species. Among the result of the study in 2010, we find (value in µmol trotox equivalent/100g): nuts = 13,541 ; artichoke = 6,552 ; granny apple = 3898 and green tea = 1253.

What about cosmetics?

As in plants, our skin is exposed to sunlight and UV daily. This generates free radicals that are contributing to premature aging of our skin by injuring its cells. In more urban environments (pollution, stress, ozone), this phenomenon is even more devastating. Therefore cosmetic products have started to use antioxidants in their formula to prevent such effects. However, one must know that antioxidants lose their powerful properties if they are exposed to oxygen. This is the reason why advanced cosmetic brands are using either airless packaging to protect the antioxidants from air exposure or the latest generation of antioxidants called the “SAOX” (Super-AntiOx) that have been recently created through biotechnology research.

Thanks to worldwide research, and recent discoveries, antioxidants are an old story with a new beginning!