The Importance of Topical Antioxidants
If you've read my e-book you probably already know how damaging inflammation can be for the skin. In fact, inflammation appears to be at the root of all acne - although not always inflammation that is visible like in an inflamed pimple. Instead, evidence suggests that subclinical inflammation is present early in the acne formation process, and influences acne severity as it fluctuates. People with a lot of acne tend to have higher levels of inflammation, which we once believed to be a mere symptom of the condition, but which we now understand may precede the condition altogether.
Inflammation affects our skin in a variety of ways, one of which is by making the skin more susceptible to hormonal and environmental changes. It can also accelerate keratin and sebum production. More importantly, inflammation can alter the composition of our sebum by oxidization, making it more hospitable to bacteria that can result in acne.
So clearly the root of acne is where we need to target to treat the acne we have, and prevent further acne from forming.
What Causes This Inflammatory Response?
Inflammation in the body can result from poor diet, pre-existing health conditions, environmental factors, and chronic or intense periodic stress. Obviously cleaning up our diet, taking care of our health, and reducing stress are some of the better ways to reduce inflammation in our body, and thus, mitigate the impact it has on our skin. For more information on how to do this, be sure to check out the helpful tips on inflammation in my e-book.
However, there's something else we can do for our skin to help fight inflammation at the site, while we simultaneously fight inflammation from within.
As inflammation in the body takes its toll on our skin, antioxidants on our skin are being depleted. The oxidized sebum (caused by inflammation) triggers subsequent inflammation which further exacerbates the depletion of antioxidants on the skin. Studies show that free radical-neutralizing antioxidant enzymes glutathione and superoxide dismutase are significantly lower in acne patients than in people without acne. Vitamin E, an important skin antioxidant that protects the skin, is also often found depleted in acneic skin.
Lower antioxidant levels means that the inflammation and oxidative damage is left to run amok, and if there's anything you don't want running unchecked, it's inflammation.
Enter Topical Antioxidants.
Antioxidants help to inhibit the oxidation process, which can help balance out inflammation that's run wild. This is why it's important to consume a lot of antioxidant-rich foods like fruits and vegetables. But sometimes we also forget about how important and effective topical antioxidants can be, as well.
Studies have shown that antioxidants like vitamin B3, vitamin E, the vitamin C precursor, and green tea can all help fight acne when applied topically. Almost anything good for your skin seems to have some amount of antioxidants in it, and indeed, when I switched to more antioxidant-dense products, I noticed a marked improvement in my skin overall, not just in my acne.
Because inflammation appears to be at the root of acne, this means we need to pay special attention to increasing our antioxidant consumption, as well as include antioxidants in our skin care routine. Most plant-based products will contain ample antioxidants, but not all are created equal.
Reach for products with primary ingredients like niacin, vitamin E, vitamin C precursor SAP, or green tea. And it's important to reach for products with antioxidants that will actually make a difference. Sure, a face wash with antioxidants may help a little (even more so if you use a waterless cleanser like this one), but your money would be better spent on a moisturizer, toner, serum and sunscreen with antioxidants. Acure Organics Day Cream is chock full of skin-health antioxidants, and so is the Kiss My Face Face Factor Sunscreen, two products I highly recommend for their skin-healthy ingredients.
Remember, however, that it doesn't matter how many antioxidants you slather on your face, if you don't take control of the inflammation within, as well, you're merely putting a band-aid on a severed leg. Address the root issue first and foremost, but use topical antioxidants to help you get through the bad skin days along the way.