Antioxidants: Why Your Skin Needs ‘Em & How To Get ‘Em

For years, the discussion of your skin and antioxidants started and stopped with blueberries. The tiny indigo fruit has been known as a powerhouse for your skin, but lately the focus has shifted to include even more antioxidants. Why? It turns out they're all outstanding for your skin. "Anyone who spends time outdoors in a populated area can benefit from antioxidants," says Dr. Harold Lancer, a Beverly Hills-based dermatologist. "Environment pollutants, like smog, carbon monoxide, tar, and smoke, are some of the worst oxidative stressors our bodies are exposed to. Consuming antioxidants, and using them topically, will fight off the negative effects of oxidative stress."
You really can't go wrong with any antioxidant, but there are a few specifics that you should keep an eye out for when it comes to keeping your complexion healthy. "The best antioxidants for your overall skin health are vitamins A, C, E, and beta-carotene," Lancer says. These four will especially help disarm wrinkle-causing free radicals, or, as Lancer describes them, "unstable molecules that damage cells and exist as a result of environmental pollution and lifestyle abuse."
So, we know which antioxidants we need and why we need 'em. Now, we just need the how. Click through and get schooled.
When it comes to your skin, there are a few ways you can absorb your antioxidants. The most obvious way is to simply slather 'em on your face. "Topically applied antioxidants, like vitamin C, E, and beta-carotene, can significantly reduce signs of sun damage and aging," Lancer says. He notes that vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits, broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, and kale, but it's most potent when applied topically.
You could also go the supplement route and swallow your antioxidants. Lancer claims that vitamin E is well absorbed in this form, although it is found in vegetable oils (think grapeseed and olive), nuts, seeds, olives, spinach, and asparagus. "It should be noted that it is not healthy to exceed 400 IU per day," he says.
But, the best way to make sure you're getting your antioxidants? Change up your diet. "The most effective way of reaping the benefits of antioxidants is through consumption of fresh, organic foods rich with these vitamins," Lancer says. "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." This is especially true for vitamin E and vitamin A, which is found in carrots, pumpkin, sweet potato, butternut squash, spinach, kale, and Swiss chard. Lancer also suggests adding açai, blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, apples, black beans, almonds, steel-cut oats, and 70% dark chocolate to your diet.
And, since antioxidants are seriously incredible for your overall health as well as your skin, it's a good idea to work these bad boys into your diet anyway. Who knew that a simple update to your grocery-shopping list could lead to the best skin of your life?

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