3 Experts Explain Why We Should Be Wearing Antioxidants, Even When We're Indoors
There are two things dermatologists will always tell us to use in our skin-care routines, and that's a sunscreen and an antioxidant serum. The reason being comes down to protection. Sunscreen protects your skin from the sun, and antioxidants protect your skin against free radical damage (more on that later), which are often the byproduct of pollutants, the sun's rays, smoking, and some foods — things that are often found outdoors.
Now, whether you should be applying your antioxidant serum every single morning, regardless of whether you're leaving the house, is probably not the most pressing matter on your mind right now. But as beauty editors, we think about these things, and we know that many of the beauty enthusiasts out there are wondering the same, too.
Even though lockdown is coming to an end, there are definitely times we'll spend the entire day indoors. That's why we wanted to know from skin experts whether we should be wearing our antioxidant serum even if we aren't going outside that day. (After all, most antioxidant skin-care products don't come cheap.) The answer, however, according to everyone we spoke to, is yes, we should be wearing antioxidants inside. Keep reading to learn why.
What Is an Antioxidant Exactly, and How Do They Affect Our Skin?
If the experts are saying we should be wearing antioxidants everyday, it must mean they're pretty special, and, well, they are. "Antioxidants neutralise excess free radicals, reducing or preventing the attack on cellular structures," said Dr. Ifeoma Ejikeme, skin expert and medical director of Adonia Medical Clinic. "A free radical is an unstable oxygen molecule that has the potential to damage our cells," London-based consultant dermatologist Dr. Thivi Maruthappu told POPSUGAR.
And if you want to know about the really science-y stuff, consultant dermatologist Dr. Emma Craythorne broke it down even more. "A free radical is a substance or molecule that is unstable and has an unpaired electron. In order to become more stable, it seeks out and takes electrons from another substance," she explained. Oftentimes, they go straight to your skin to get their electron fix.
"In our skin, this breakage of bonds and relinking causes degradation and contributes to visible damage." This can contribute to hyperpigmentation, erythema (which basically means redness), and also damage to skin's collagen and elastin. "Damaged collagen doesn't scaffold the skin as effectively, which can lead to sagging and fine lines," explained Dr. Maruthappu.
Topical skin-care comes in because even though "the body contains natural antioxidants, it can help to boost these with antioxidants applied on your skin," said Dr. Maruthappu. The most popular antioxidant ingredients include vitamin A (which you'll likely know as retinol or retinoic acid), niacinamide (also known as vitamin B3), vitamin E, resveratrol, and the most well known of them all, vitamin C. A top tip? "Look out for combination formulas for added benefits," Dr. Maruthappu said.
In addition to protecting against free radicals, antioxidant products can actually boost the efficacy of sunscreen, which you should also be wearing indoors. Dr. Craythorne noted that sunscreen is the number one hero when it comes to protecting against sun damage, but "topical antioxidants are the next line of defence." That's why it's best to apply an antioxidant serum in the morning before your SPF.
Should We Wear Our Antioxidant Serum Even When We're Indoors?
The three experts were unanimous in their opinion that yes, you should regularly use an antioxidant product indoors as well as outside if you're keen to protect against free radical damage.
"Free radicals can be created both inside and outside in response to light, heat, pollution, and even trauma to the skin. Antioxidants help to keep them in check," Dr. Ejikeme said. Dr. Maruthappu and Dr. Craythorne also both strongly echoed this. "The most common of several free radical triggers is UVA rays," explained Dr. Maruthappu. "Unlike UVB rays, which are largely blocked by glass, about 50 percent of UVA rays can pass through a window, so if you're sitting working by a window for most of the day this can add up.
So in short, if you regularly use an antioxidant in your skin-care routine, you should apply it in the morning like normal, even if you aren't stepping outside that day. It's even more important if you like to soak up the sun through the windows. Be sure to wear your sunscreen over the top of this to protect against sun and free radical damage.
Ahead, check out some of our favourite dermatologist-recommended antioxidant products.