3 anti-aging ingredients found in the best antioxidant serums

It’s no secret how much I love serums.

These potent skin care products are formulated to penetrate the skin and effectively treat, heal and soothe. So when it comes to aging well, a great antioxidant serum is key.

Why do we need an antioxidant serum?

Antioxidants are a large group of synthetic and natural chemicals that protect skin cells from damage by factors like stress, environmental pollution, cigarette smoke, sun exposure etc.

As we age, we need to help our bodies protect themselves with antioxidants in our skincare and food.

Adding an antioxidant serum to our anti aging routines is one of the best ways to protect the skin. There are so many antioxidants out there, so dip your toe by trying out a blend or any of the anti-aging ingredients below.

According to Paula’s Choice, before you buy an antioxidant serum, remember that, “...packaging is important.  Any container that lets in air (like jar packaging) or sunlight (clear containers) will render the antioxidant ineffective when you open it. Look for opaque, airless, or air-restrictive packaging.”

3 antioxidants + antioxidant serums for every budget!


Forms/ Also known as: Vitamin A, retinyl ascorbate, retinyl palmitate, retinyl retinoate, retinaldehyde (retinal), Adapalene, Tretinoin(retinoic acid), Tazarotene, Isotretinoin

Retinol is a derivative of Vitamin A. It’s a powerful antioxidant and cell communicating ingredient.

Cell communication means it can tell a skin cell to look, act and behave better. More like a normal healthy skin cell. Or to stop other substances from telling the cell to behave badly or abnormally.

This can be done directly or indirectly.

To benefit the skin, retinol has to be converted to retinoic acid.

Benefits of Retinol

  1. Retinol increases the rate at which skin produces new cells. This contributes to healthier, radiant skin.

  2. Retinol clears inflammation. Using retinol clears inflammatory skin conditions like acne and eczema.

  3. Retinol lightens dark spots. It helps to even the skin tone by lightening dark spots and/or photodamage i.e. skin darkened by the sun.

  4. Retinol smoothes the skin by increasing glycosaminoglycan content. Glycosaminoglycan is an important skin-protecting substance found in young skin. It results in firmer skin with an improved texture.

Try an antioxidant serum with retinol

Budget: The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

Mid: Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment

Premier: Sunday Riley Luna Night Sleeping Oil


Vitamin C

Forms/ Also known as: ascorbic acid/ L-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl glucoside ,ascorbyl palmitate, ascorbyl phosphate, ascorbyl stearate, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, retinyl ascorbate, sodium ascorbyl phosphate and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate.

Vitamin C  is a naturally occurring compound with antioxidant properties in skin.

It’s difficult to deliver Vitamin C  to skin in a form that is stable, effective and non-irritating.

This has led to the development of various forms of Vitamin C in skin care, as you can see above.

For the skin to reap the benefits of Vitamin C, it has to first be converted to ascorbic acid on the skin.

Benefits of Vitamin C

  1. Vitamin C increases collagen production. Collagen is a connective tissue that keeps skin firm and plump; its loss results in the development of wrinkles. When regularly applied, Vitamin C increases collagen production. Collagen production is a very slow process because the half life of collagen is about half a year. Even with the patient and consistent application of Vitamin C, it may take 3 – 6 months to experience a change in your skin. The maximum effects of a youthful skin will occur after a year of use.

  2. Vitamin C boosts sun protection. When topically applied, Vitamin C protects skin from harmful free radicals that are caused by UV radiation. Using a leave on cosmetic product like a Vitamin C serum underneath your sunscreen will enhance sun protection.
  3. Vitamin C evens skin tone and brightens the skin. When skin is healing from acne,  hyperpigmentation could result. This is the darkening of an area of skin caused by increased melanin. Vitamin C reduces melanin production, resulting in even, brighter skin.

Try an antioxidant serum with Vitamin C

Budget: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%

Mid: Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Super Booster

Premier: Dr.Dennis Gross Hydra-Pure Vitamin C Brightening Serum



Forms/ Also known as: Vitamin B3, Nicotinic acid

Niacinamide is an antioxidant derived from niacin or vitamin B3. Like retinol, it's also a great cell-communicating ingredient. 

Benefits of niacinamide

  1. Niacinamide improves the skin’s protective function. Ceramides are lipids found in the skin that reduce water loss and keep it healthy. The use of harsh cleansers can contribute to loss of ceramides and unhealthy, easily irritated skin. Niacinamide increases the production of ceramides and other skin lipids to improve the protection of the skin.

  2. Niacinamide evens skin tone. In concentrations of 4%, niacinamide has been shown to even skin tone and fade spots from age, pregnancy and acne. After your skin is injured from acne, you will experience hyperpigmentation. Niacinamide reduces the amount of melanin – brightening and evening skin tone.

  3. Niacinamide stimulates collagen production. Like I mentioned before, collagen is a protein that supports skin, keeping it firm. As we age, our collagen levels reduce, which is a major cause of wrinkles, fine lines and saggy skin. By stimulating skin cells to produce collagen, niacinamide improves the skin’s structure.

  4. Niacinamide helps treat irritation and mild acne.  It decrease sebum production and reduces the appearance of acne by soothing inflammation. Niacinamide has also been shown to be effective in the treatment of other irritated skin conditions like seborrhoeic dermatitis, atopic eczema, rosacea, melasma and mild psoriasis.

Try an antioxidant serum with niacinamide

Budget: Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion (not a serum)

Mid:  Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum

Premier: Biopelle KNR Brightening Serum

In Conclusion

Many times, you will be tempted to buy a ridiculously expensive antioxidant serum that Just. Sounds. So. Good. ‘Infused with goodness from the exotic berries of the Schmalalaka tree only found in the depths of the Amazonian jungle.’

Forgerrabourrit. All you need is a blend of proven, well-packaged antioxidants like retinol, vitamin C and niacinamide, to experience the benefits.

Of course there are tonnes of antioxidant serums out there, this is simply a guide to help you out.

Have you tried  antioxidant serums before? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments!

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