Five Super Anti-Aging Antioxidants Your Skin Needs


In This Article:

When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, the research is clear: Antioxidants are essential and the more you apply to skin, the better! Just like your diet needs a mix of healthy beneficial nutrients, so does your skin. Skin is the largest organ of your body and so nourishing its surface with ingredients like antioxidants is important.

Not only do antioxidants help combat the elements responsible for the visible signs of aging, they can also calm skin, help to restore a more youthful appearance, and revitalize dull-looking skin.

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Which Antioxidant is Best?

We are often asked what the best antioxidants are for skin. In reality, there are dozens of phenomenally effective antioxidants that we use with gusto in our Paula’s Choice products. Despite the seemingly endless array of good antioxidants, there are a few standouts we want you to know about. Each has an outstanding performance record when it comes to taking the best care of your skin—and knowing which ones to look for can help make shopping for great skincare easier!

Vitamin E

Vitamin E (often listed as tocopherol or tocotrienols) is one of the most well-known antioxidants. It is a fat-soluble vitamin available in both natural and synthetic forms. Research shows that both forms provide significant antioxidant benefits to skin, but that the natural forms are more potent and last longer in skin than their synthetic counterparts.

What it does:
Vitamin E works in several different ways to protect defend skin from outside elements that have a profound negative impact on skin. It’s often found in sunscreens because of its supporting role in helping defend skin from the stress UV light exposure can cause.

Vitamin E also works in powerful synergy with vitamin C; that is, a serum or anti-aging product that contains both vitamins C and E can be doubly beneficial. Look for Vitamin E in serums and moisturizers.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C (listed as ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, among others) is a potent antioxidant that works particularly well for diminishing the look of fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and uneven skin tone. This well-researched water-soluble vitamin is considered an anti-aging superstar for all skin types.

What it does:
When applied topically, vitamin C has been proven to preserve skin’s resiliency so it takes on a firmer feeling and smoother appearance. Research has also shown that vitamin C helps improve uneven skin tone and brighten dull skin so it’s visibly more radiant, just like younger skin.

Like most antioxidants, vitamin C can also calm and help hydrate skin so its better able to withstand the rigors of daily life and the impact it can have on how skin looks and feels.

Amounts of vitamin C from 0.5% to 20% have shown impressive efficacy. Vitamin C is found in all sorts of products, from lip balms to eye creams, but you'll get the most out of this antioxidant in targeted solution products and skin-brightening serums.


Resveratrol is a potent polyphenolic antioxidant that's found in red grapes, red wine, nuts, and fruits such as blueberries and cranberries. It’s a relatively new antioxidant, but emerging research is showing it to be an antioxidant superhero for your skin.

What it does:
Applied topically, resveratrol helps protect skin’s surface, interrupts helps rebuff negative environmental influences, and brightens a tired-looking complexion. Resveratrol also has significant calming properties that may help temper redness. Look for resveratrol in moisturizers and anti-aging makeup.


Retinol, (the technical term for vitamin A) has a long-established reputation as one of the most extraordinary ingredients for skin. It’s a skin-restoring ingredient and an antioxidant, and provides multiple benefits for almost every skin care concern imaginable from uneven skin tone, bumps, enlarged pores, rough surface texture, fine lines and wrinkles, and improved skin luminosity.

An added benefit is that retinol also has been shown to unclog congested pores and soften the appearance of red areas many people perceive as surface imperfections.

What it does:
Retinol has been shown to improve skin’s resilience which contributes to its overall feeling of firmness and more youthful, healthy appearance. Due to its anti-aging ability, retinol is a key ingredient to improve the look of fine lines, wrinkles, dullness, and uneven skin tone.

Retinol is found in all types of products, from moisturizers to serums to body treatments and many others.

Green Tea

Green tea is a potent antioxidant when applied topically. A significant amount of research have established that tea—green, black, or white—has many intriguing anti-aging benefits. The key compound in green tea that provides its antioxidant kick is epigallocatechin-3 gallate (EGCG).

What it does:
Current research indicates that EGCG extract, applied topically, can help defend skin’s surface from environmental elements that have the most pronounced negative effect on it. Green tea also has a distinct calming effect on skin, making it a great ingredient to visibly soothe red areas. Look for green tea in moisturizers.

Antioxidants Perform Even Better Together

When it comes to your skin and antioxidants, remember the old adage: "There’s strength in numbers." When the top-notch antioxidants detailed above are combined and working together, and reinforced with daily use of sunscreen and other potent antioxidants and skin-beneficial ingredients, the visible results can be remarkable!

And antioxidants perform better when they are packaged in airtight or air-restricting containers. All antioxidants breakdown in the presence of air, so jar packaging won’t keep these vital ingredients stable once you open the container.

The Best Skin of Your Life Starts Here: The same type of in-depth scientific research used to create this article is also used to formulate Paula’s Choice Skincare products. You’ll find products for all skin types and a range of concerns, from acne and sensitive skin to wrinkles, pores, and sun damage. With Paula’s Choice Skincare, you can get (and keep) the best skin of your life! See Paula's Choice Antioxidant Serums.

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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