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Antioxidants: The Key to Radiant, Glowing Skin This Summer (and for Life)

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The season of outdoor recreation is upon us and while most people wouldn't leave for the beach or the backyard without sunscreen, many don't know that sunscreen has a powerful counterpart in battling damage from the sun: antioxidants.

We most often hear about how eating antioxidants improves our overall health and nutrition, but antioxidants are an essential ingredient for skin health too and eating them isn't always enough. Here's why.

While you read at the lake or enjoy lunch on your patio, the radiation from the sun creates what are called "free radicals" in your body's skin cells. Free radicals are chemicals that have the potential to harm cells, and when your skin cells are damaged, it shows in effects like wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, among other things. In fact, the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that up to 90 percent of cosmetic skin problems associated with aging could actually be from sun damage, not the normal aging process.

Fortunately, nature gave us tools for fighting the damage that free radicals can cause. Nature gave us antioxidants.

Antioxidants are chemicals that interact with and neutralize free radicals, preventing them from causing damage. Our bodies make them, but antioxidants are also found in plants, giving us an extra arsenal in the fight against sun damage.

But before you treat yourself to a congratulatory handful of raspberries for eating a diet rich in antioxidants, here's the kicker: simply eating antioxidants might not be enough for your skin to reap their benefits, since antioxidants work on all the free radicals in our body tissues, not just the ones in our skin cells. So in addition to eating antioxidant-rich foods, applying antioxidants topically to the skin and hair can help ensure that our cells that see the sun get the nutrients they need to battle free radicals from sun damage.

So this summer, in addition to applying sunscreen, harness the power of topical antioxidants to keep your skin healthy and radiant. Here are some of the most effective antioxidants and why they are amazing for the skin.

Green tea oil actually dissolves the oil that holds dead skin cells together, reducing skin flaking and improving appearance.

Green tea extract tones and soothes the skin, while fighting inflammation. And white tea extract is an even more powerful anti-aging agent, fighting enzymes that attack collagen and elastase.

Sea kelp extract promotes skin hydration, protects cell activity and acts as a powerful antioxidant.

Vitamin C (or l-ascorbic acid) repairs cells so they can restore collagen production.

Ferulic acid repairs sun damaged skin and is most effective when combined with Vitamin C.

Carrot seed oil has been used in skincare for centuries to improve skin tone, elasticity and overall health.

Grape seed oil is an anti-aging powerhouse rich in antioxidants and emollients that fight inflammation.

The best thing you can do for your skin this summer is give it an antioxidant shield of protection and, of course, wear sunscreen.