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Science Series

How to Protect Skin: The Role of Anti-oxidants

Protecting your skin is the cornerstone of a good skincare routine. Protection can take many forms, from enhancing and reinforcing its existing function as a barrier to providing super-boosted support in the form of antioxidants.

The best skin protection is thought of as either optimising the most of the skin’s own potential as a barrier or adding to that barrier by either topical or internal means.


Antioxidants, both applied topically and consumed as part of your diet, have been long established to provide both short-term and long-term protection for skin as well as an effective correction to many skin issues from lines and dryness to pigmentation and dullness. Antioxidants provide the counterpoint to environmental pollution and to external stressors and aggressors.


"The aim of the use of antioxidants in cosmeceutical skincare is to provide an effective counterpart to the ROS-generated threats to skin, and the ensuing damage, and in doing so improve the skin's look, feel and overall health"


During normal cellular function reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated by the oxidative metabolism that is essential for life. Exposure to UV-induced radiation increases ROS production and oxidative stress, causing photo-aging (extrinsic aging, as opposed to intrinsic aging caused only by time) of skin. ROS combine with proteins, lipids and DNA altering cellular functions – hence the damage. We know by now, of course, the nature of the damage that UV-induced radiation causes the skin, including photoaging, inflammation, erythema and cancers, with superficial signs such as lines and wrinkles, altered pigmentation and loss of skin tone.

The aim of the use of antioxidants in cosmeceutical skincare is to provide an effective counterpoint to the ROS-generated threats to the skin, and the ensuing damage, and in doing so improve the skin’s look, feel and overall health. Among the antioxidants used in Skinesis include co-enzyme Q10, which we include in products such as our Overnight Facial and our Overnight Facial Supplement, the powerful amino acid thiotaine and the fatty acid alpha lipoic acid, also in Overnight Facial.

One of the biggest sources of research and development for antioxidants in cosmeceutical and dermatological use are botanical extracts. An emerging botanical extract discussed last year in Ageing Research Review is equol: “a polyphenolic/isoflavonoid molecule found in plants and food products and via gastrointestinal metabolism from precursor compounds.” It is hoped that equol could “reduce skin aging along with its anti-aging skin influences via reducing oxidative stress cascade events by a variety of biochemical/molecular actions and mechanisms to enhance human dermal health.”

As well as sunscreen, hydration is necessary to sustain collagen production and maintain the integrity of the dermis.

Preparation prior to the use of antioxidants is also key, both in the short term and the longer term and thus exfoliation is key. Prepared, exfoliated skin means it is more receptive to the products subsequently applied: when exfoliation is a consistent part of your routine, it helps the skin maintain its barrier function, boosts hydration and even collagen production. Antioxidants are an investment in the future: a vital insurance policy for your skin.

References and sources

• Lephart ED. Skin aging and oxidative stress: Equol's anti-aging effects via biochemical and molecular mechanisms. Ageing Res Rev. 2016 Nov;31:36-54. doi: 10.1016/j.arr.2016.08.001. Epub 2016 Aug 9.
• Farris PK, Edison BL, Brouda I, Winkauf RL, green BA. A high-potency, multimechanism skin care regimen provides significant antiaging effects: results from a double-blind, vehicle-controlled clinical trial. J Drugs Dermatol. 2012 Dec;11(12):1447-54
• Domenico Fusco, Giuseppe Colloca, Maria Rita Lo Monaco, and Matteo Cesari. Effects of antioxidant supplementation on the aging process. Clin Interv Aging. 2007 Sep; 2(3): 377–387.(Published online 2007 Sep.)
• Lintner K, Mas-Chamberlin C, Mondon P, Peschard O, Lamy L. Cosmeceuticals and active ingredients. Clin Dermatol. 2009 Sep-Oct;27(5):461-8.doi:10.1016/j.clindermatol.2009.05.009.