Upping the Antioxidant Ante
By now, we’ve all heard about the myriad benefits of antioxidants in food and skincare. We know that the vibrant reds, oranges, purples and blues in our fruits and veggies equal antioxidant potency, and we know that ‘free radicals’ are not liberated rebels, but rather, skin-damaging molecules to protect against. And, we know that organic, whole foods are the best source for antioxidants, bar none. But, recent studies show that certain Super Antioxidants in skincare provide an amped up dosage of free radical fighting, protective benefits, proving that our choice in skincare products is no less important than our choice in food. While scientists and doctors are intrigued by their targeted approach (these Super Antioxidants specialize in scavenging for specific free radicals), the clean beauty community is in lock-step with new scientific research, discovering the best ways to deliver these Superpower Ingredients topically.
Founder and Formulator of SkinOwl, Annie Tevelin, decided to up the antioxidant ante of her Hero product Beauty Drops PM by replacing mangosteen, known for its high level of antioxidants, for maqui berries which are a Super Antioxidant that boast more than 10 times the ORAC value. The Mapuche Indians, native to Chile, have long relied on a mostly vegetarian diet that includes a drink called chicha made of fermented maqui berry. The Mapuche credit the maqui berry for their strength and endurance, and indeed the science is there to support such a claim. Studies suggest that this superfruit contains twice the antioxidant strength of açai and does reduce inflammation which could lead to better health and a longer lifespan.
In skincare and beyond, no other antioxidant has a stronger presence than turmeric. First discovered for its health benefits in India and Asia where it is cooked habitually, the Super Antioxidant turmeric shows up everywhere from our lattes to our skincare. Who could blame us for embracing this root with numerous studies like this one identifying its many health benefits. Many skin care formulators are employing antioxidant synergies for the ultimate Superpower effect. Mahalo Skincare’s The BEAN Antioxidant Mask synergies turmeric with astaxanthin, cacao, and coffee.
Another Super Antioxidant to keep in rotation is astaxanthin. Astaxanthin is marine algae that is found in salmon and some shellfish and is being widely studied for its anti-inflammatory benefits. Astaxanthin is used widely in beauty and plays nicely with other Superhero Ingredients. For a double hit of Super Antioxidants, try Maya Chia’s The Super Couple, a bright organge synergy of astaxanthin and essential fatty acid powerhouse chia seed oil.
Of course, not all antioxidants are created equal. Ingredient sourcing and processing matters a lot as is shown in this study on nonalkalized cacao, another Super Antioxidant that can be found in many products, like Josh Rosebrook’s Cacao Antioxidant Face Mask. Whole plants deliver the complete nutrient and antioxidant profiles that can be greatly diminished during processing. We know first-hand that reputable green beauty brand founders are paying more attention than ever to their ingredient sources, ensuring that plants are grown and harvested sustainably, and processed properly for optimal potency. The beauty brands we choose to partner with are so dedicated to their ingredient sourcing that they are taking to growing their ingredients themselves, like UMA Oils does on their farm in India and Bottega Organica in Italy. Other brands like Laurel Whole Plant Organics focus on local ingredient sources and often pick up their ingredients from growers in person.
Ingredient sourcing is one of the critical x factors that separates the good from the Hero products, and one of the markers of high performance ingredients is antioxidant potency. As leading clean beauty brands up the ante on antioxidant potency in their formulas, don’t be surprised if it comes packaged as never-heard-of-before raw materials and innovative delivery systems.