Antioxidants for Skin Health

Ask the Raffles Medical Group Experts


I heard that antioxidant is very important for the skin, but I am not too sure how it works. Also, I am pretty consumed over the antioxidant products found over the counters. This is because some of the products have just one or two kinds of antioxidants in higher concentrations, whereas there are some products that have a mixture of different antioxidants but in lower concentrations. This makes it even more confusing and how much antioxidant does one require?


In a nutshell, they are important for skin health because they protect the skin from oxidative stress, hence the name ‘antioxidants’.

One of the main contributors to oxidative stress is ultraviolet (UV) light. Exposure of the skin to UV leads to generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS) that can cause damage to DNA and result in skin ageing.

A specific example is vitamin C, which is a naturally occurring antioxidant. It is a popular antioxidant incorporated into cosmeceuticals for the purpose of preventing and treating sun damaged skin. It has also been shown to have other benefits such as enhancement of collagen synthesis. Therefore, it has an effect on wrinkles, as well as lightening effect, which may be useful for treating hyperpigmentation.

When it comes to choosing a product, you can go for one with one or two types of antioxidants. However, a higher concentration of a particular antioxidant does not necessarily imply greater effectiveness. Many other factors need to be considered, such as the vehicle used and the pH level, which determine the level of skin absorption.

Currently, there isn’t enough scientific evidence that shows how much antioxidant a person needs. This is because it depends on how much free radical damage an individual is being exposed to, or what an individual’s own natural antioxidant ability is.

The challenge that cosmeceutical companies face is to develop products that can penetrate well enough into the human skin.

The most important factor is the results obtained from clinical studies. As a consumer, you will want to be cautious about jumping on the bandwagon every time a new antioxidant is purported to be a miracle cure for skin ageing. Sometimes it may be all hype, and one has to look at whether proper scientific and clinical studies have been done to support the claims.