Antioxidants rid the body of free radicals. Free radicals contribute to the destruction of healthy cells. This is an issue for your body, which includes your skin. Free radicals are caused by pollution, smog, sun, stress and aging. Free radicals are cells missing one electron making it an unstable cell. They hunt for the missing electron and take from the neighboring molecule; they are constantly searching to complete themselves with the missing half. It is an endless cycle of search and swipe, and so the vicious cycle continues. We can easily cause imbalance inside by making poor nutritional choices, smoking, as well as sustaining emotional stress and sun exposure. Antioxidants help to stop the domino effect of free radicals scavenging and restore the normal, whole functioning of the cell both inside and out. Because skin acts as an external barrier, it is directly exposed to environmental stress such as sunlight and pollutants. Excess exposure to the sun’s UV radiation generates free radicals in the skin, and where their levels exceed the organ’s natural defenses, oxidative damage occurs. That effect can present as premature aging, sunburn, skin inflammation and skin cancers. It also causes depletion of antioxidants such as vitamins E and C, which further reduces their protective effects. Aging itself is a form of oxidative stress because antioxidant levels in the skin and blood reduces as we age and we lose the built-in protection. Free radicals damage collagen and affect the firmness and suppleness of our skin, leading to dryness, fine lines, and wrinkles, as well as less elasticity. The best protection from free radical damage is both internal and external protection. That means having a good diet rich in antioxidants such as fruits, vegetables, and salmon and/or supplementing your diet with vitamins such as vitamin C, E, curcumin, alpha lipoid acid, grape seed extract, bilberry, turmeric, green tea, lutein and lycopene. Topically you need similar protection. Depending on the formulation, vitamin C&E or a vitamin C is excellent to use under your sunscreen. Upochroman 6, green tea, grape seed extract, superoxide dismutase, silymarin, pycnogenol, ginkgo, astaxanthin are the major antioxidants to provide protection found in skin care products. One more tip: Make sure your sunscreen also has antioxidants in it for additional protection and more effective sun protection.