Why antioxidants are more than just a skincare trend

Jennifer Rock aka The Skin Nerd is back with her stellar skincare advice in 2019. Today, she's explaining the importance of antioxidants.

As someone who lives, breathes, works and adores skincare, hearing repeatedly that it is on the up and up as an industry is always heartening. What sets skincare aside from the makeup industry is that what is trending in skincare can actually affect the health of our skin. The pull of marketing is ever real and what is promoted as the ultimate anti-aging, anti-acne or hydrating ingredient isn't necessarily the best option.

Jennifer Rock aka The Skin Nerd

Because of this, if you are someone who likes to invest in skincare or is now considering it with the dawning of this new year, you need to be as critical and cautious of new skincare products as you would be of a new host on your favourite late night talk show.

The intriguing thing about skincare trends and about how much more important they are now than they may have been a few years ago is that what is popular may actually be an ingredient or a method that we who are trained in skin are incredibly familiar with. Case in point: antioxidants. Oddly, cosmetic skincare brands are only really hopping on the antioxidant marketing bandwagon now, even if their products have contained them for years.

With the accumulation of knowledge and awareness of how pollution is affecting us and our skin, and with the average consumer being a lot more savvy about how damaging UV and HEV (blue) light is, antioxidants are set to be an even bigger trend in 2019 than in 2018 and the years previous.

woman face too faced foundation FI

Why antioxidants are a key skincare ingredient

We need to get nerdie for a second before we continue. There are two forms of skin ageing: intrinsic (genetic) and extrinsic ageing. You cannot change your genetics, however, extrinsic ageing is determined by lifestyle.

Something that contributes to accelerated ageing greatly are free radicals. Be warned – these are not a rock band from the '80s. They are what cause damage to the skin through oxidation, which is when too much oxygen reaches a certain area – in this case, of the skin – resulting in damage to our skin's DNA which has a knock on effect. Essentially, oxidation and the resulting free radicals mean that our skin is not functioning the way that it is meant to, leaving us susceptible to many skin concerns, including an increased risk of photodamage (aka damage caused by UV rays). Oxidation is caused by smoking, drinking alcohol, not sleeping well and pollution amongst other things… However, even if we protect ourselves from all of this, oxidation also occurs during cell turnover!

Antioxidants neutralise the free radicals that cause accelerated ageing to our skin through oxidation so they are invaluable in your skincare routine. They are wrinkle-fighters, pigmentation-tacklers and your daily defence.

Which antioxidants to look out for

Like all types of skincare ingredients, some antioxidants are more powerful than others and realistically, for the best antioxidant protection, you want a product with high amounts of antioxidants.

Watch out for:

  • Resveratrol - one of the most well-researched and potent antioxidants, found in red wine
  • Vitamin C - another one that has been under many a microscope and proven effective
  • Vitamin A - you’ll see this most commonly as retinyl palmitate or retinol in skincare
  • Vitamin E - not only is it antioxidant, it's nourishing and hydrating
  • Green tea extract (camellia sinensis) - don’t just drink it, apply it

The best antioxidant product will contain multiple antioxidants rather than simply one, such as IMAGE Skincare’s Vital C Hydrating Antioxidant A C E Serum (€64, The Skin Nerd store), which contains vitamins A, C and E as well as red rose wine polyphenols and more.


Moringa is set to be an antioxidant of choice this year, arguably popularised by the cult Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm (€59). You can find moringa peptides alongside other antioxidants such as co-enzyme Q10 (Co-Q10) and vitamins A, C and E in Yon-Ka’s much-loved Vital Defense (€49).

woman in blue and white striped shirt and black hat

Another huge trend this year is multi-tasking products, inspired by skip-care, the anarchic response to the Korean 10-step skincare regime. With this in mind, remember to always opt for products that don't solely function as antioxidant protection. Vitamin C aids in collagen production, reducing redness and brightening, vitamin A is regenerative and boosts skin cell turnover and green tea extract is soothing.

Murad City Skin Broad Spectrum SPF 50 (€59.50, The Skin Nerd store) is an all-rounder as it provides protection from UVA rays, UVB rays, HEV light (i.e. the blue light emitted from computer screens) as well as antioxidant protection in the form of vitamin A and vitamin C.

Unlike many other professional-grade skincare ingredients, sometimes you won’t see the effect of antioxidants straightaway. The results require decades worth of patience, as antioxidants are a preventative method that continuously protect your skin from damage that would otherwise cause it to age faster. Antioxidants are your skin's pension plan - if you're looking for a new year skin resolution, think about adding them into your routine.

See some of Jennifer's previous posts:

What to look for in a hydration masque whatever your skin type

What to Look For In Skincare in Your 20s, 30s and 40s

How to Know When To Update Your Routine

The Nerdie Guide to Skincare For Sensitive Skin

Is Your Skin Changing During Pregnancy? Here’s What To Do

How to Change Your Skincare Routine for Autumn

The Skincare Essentials You Need to Pack For a Festival

The Lowdown On Double-Cleansing and Why You Should Be Doing It 

Skincare Myths That Are Actually True

The Skin Nerd store is now open for all! Take a look at the specially selected products from IMAGE, YonKa, Advanced Nutrition Programme and many others at store.theskinnerd.com


Don't forget, the Skin Nerd's book is out now! We included it in our list of great Irish books to read (or give as a present) over Christmas, and you can buy it here.

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