Antioxidant Serums Are The Next Best Thing To Living In A Plastic Bubble

The year is 1956. Eisenhower is President. Cigarettes are still "good for you." I Love Lucy is the most-watched show on TV. Rocky retires without ever losing a match. And in commercials, in ad campaigns, on billboards and on television, adults are reminding their healthy, round-cheeked children to eat their fruits and veggies.

Times have changed; "fruits and veggies" just won't cut it anymore. Bananas have too much sugar. Potatoes have too much starch and too few nutritional benefits. The President reportedly eats McDonald's every day. You need healthy fats and leafy greens; large, lavish salads featuring every color of the goddamn rainbow for a well-balanced diet and for Instagram. And antioxidants are not just at the forefront of every dietary need — they've long dominated the skin-care industry, too.


Antioxidants are more essential now than ever before, for the same reasons we've also become more aware of what it is we need protection against: the knowledge of worsening environmental pollution, oxidative stress, smog, poor lifestyle choices, pretty much anything that isn't living in a climate-controlled bubble consistently pumped full of fresh air. Also, free radicals, a confusing (to the scientifically disinclined mind) term for what dermatologist Harold Lancer, MD, FAAD, described as "unstable molecules that damage cells and exist as a result of environmental pollution and lifestyle abuse."

Of course, most doctors will agree that the best way to get your antioxidants is to actually consume them. "All topical regimens benefit from a greens-based, healthy diet, but if you're especially focused on fighting oxidation and oxidative stress, then changing your diet will help a great deal," Dr. Lancer said.

So you can eat your weight in organic blueberries and bury yourself alive under the weight of your bulk orders of dried goji berries... or you can address the problem on a superficial level first. We all have to start somewhere, and sometimes that somewhere is your skin-care routine. Ahead, the smartest, most effective ways to get your antioxidants without having to spend a single second feeling overwhelmed in the produce aisle.

At Refinery29, we’re here to help you navigate this overwhelming world of stuff. All of our market picks are independently selected and curated by the editorial team. If you buy something we link to on our site, Refinery29 may earn commission.

Algenist AA (Alguronic Acid) Barrier Serum

Like a Brita filter for your face, this silky serum prevents environmental aggressors from settling into the skin, thanks to a potent blend of protective antioxidants (including ergothioneine to actively neutralize ozone pollution), brightening niacinamide, and patented alguronic acid, which works to fortify the skin's natural barrier.
Algenist AA (Alguronic Acid) Barrier Serum$85.00 Buy

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Intensive Hydrating Serum

The world's best green tea is harvested on Korea's Jeju Island; then, it's siphoned into this lightweight serum, which refreshes and replenishes thirsty skin while harnessing heavy-hitting antioxidant properties from a double dose of green tea seed oil and extract.
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Intensive Hydrating Serum$27.00 Buy

RéVive Defensif Environmental Antioxidant Booster

There's no magic wand you can wave to turn your regular moisturizer into an antioxidant-packed powerhouse... or is there? One or two drops of this booster serum mixed into your go-to day or night cream provide everything you need to defend skin against pollution, smoke, and infrared and blue-light wavelengths — including turmeric, green tea, and a skin-identical protein that strengthens as it shields.
ReVive Defensif Environmental Antioxidant Booster$175.00 Buy

Dr. Barbara Sturm Super Anti-Aging Serum

It only takes a few uses of this silky, concentrated serum before the steep price tag suddenly starts to make perfect sense. Deeply replenishing but not heavy, skin-softening and soothing without being greasy, you get the instant gratification of smooth, well-hydrated skin and the long-term benefits of serious antioxidant activity from purslane, skullcap, and red algae extracts.
Dr. Barbara Sturm Super Anti-Aging Serum$350.00 Buy

Paula's Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol

Go big or go home with this hydrating formula, which balances out a formidable dose of retinol with the addition of rich, antioxidant-enriched plant oils and extracts, like olive oil, evening primrose, and green tea. Despite its heavy-hitting ingredients, it was specifically developed to be safe for even the most sensitive skin types, including the eczema-prone.
Paula's Choice Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum with Retinol$34.00 Buy

iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+

Multiply peak UV exposure by peak environmental pollution, and you've got a recipe for skin-health disaster — also known as summer. And that's where this serum comes in: It offers major antioxidant protection with centella asiatica, along with an advanced, high-potency form of vitamin C, to shield skin from future damage while reducing the appearance of existing fine lines and hyperpigmentation, all in a water-weight texture you won't mind wearing even when it's 100 degrees and 100% humidity.
iS Clinical Super Serum Advance+$148.00 Buy

Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Serum

Your usual bronzer has nothing on this powerful concentrate, a drop of which — mixed into your moisturizer or sunscreen — leaves skin luminous and lightly gilded in addition to its antioxidant-rich nourishing properties. The secret is in the combination of peptides and raw cocoa powder, which work together to protect against pollution and other environmental stressors while lending skin a sunny glow without the UV exposure.
Drunk Elephant D-Bronzi Anti-Pollution Sunshine Serum$36.00 Buy

La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 AOX Daily Antioxidant Face Serum SPF 50

Sometimes "having it all" is as simple as getting your advanced antioxidants in the same place you get your broad-spectrum SPF 50 sunscreen — in a lightweight, oil-free formula that leaves skin impossibly silky and wears perfectly as a primer under makeup, too.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios 50 AOX Daily Antioxidant Face Serum SPF 50$42.50 Buy

Angela Caglia Detox Serum

Let's be clear: "Detox" is more a sexy buzzword than something your skin genuinely needs (because who couldn't use a detox in this day and age?). Now that we've gotten that out of the way, the fact remains that this non-drying serum is a serious catch for anyone who wants antioxidant protection, hydration, and pore-purifying action all in one.
Angela Caglia Detox Serum$150.00 Buy
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