Your mothers may have given you this piece of beauty advice: use anti-aging serums at night. This has led to scores of women applying copious amounts of sunscreen in the day, saving their most precious serums for after sunset.
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Lately however, there has a been a shift in the way derms have been talking about antioxidants in skincare. In case you have been living on another planet and don’t recognise what ‘antioxidants’ are; ‘antioxidants’ are precious molecules that snuff out free radicals before they can chew up collagen or cripple DNA. And while many still advocate applying them upon waking to fend off environmental insults that sunscreens can’t shield us from—pollution, cigarette smoke—it turns out there are ample reasons to feed skin a second helping before bed, too.
The Old Thinking
Lending credence to the after-dark argument is the simple fact that sunlight deactivates a good many antioxidants, including the venerable vitamin C. The old rationale was that if you apply an antioxidant in the morning and then go outside, it will act much like a sunscreen, sponging up UV-generated free radicals before they can harm the skin. But in the process, that antioxidant is destroyed and never gets fully absorbed into your cells where it’s really needed.
The New Thinking
“Antioxidants are needed, day or night”, according to Dr Low Chai Ling from SW1 Clinic. It’s possible that every step of our nightly rejuvenation process gives off some by-products, like toxic free radicals. That’s where antioxidants can step in to capture that excess energy overnight, helping skin to repair itself.
That’s not all. “Excitingly, emerging research shows that certain botanical antioxidants, like coffee cherry extract and resveratrol, may even supercharge our usual wrinkle-fighters when worn together at night” says Dr Low. According to Dr Low, we can combine fairly potent retinoids with these antioxidants for enhanced anti-aging benefits, and also avoid most of the irritation typical of vitamin A creams. It’s likely that the antioxidants’ natural anti-inflammatory effects helps to minimize redness and peeling that is sometimes associated with retinoids, and on top of that can augment the latter’s effect on the skin to defend against and repair environmental damage.
Besides your usual slew of vitamins such as B.C and E, new potent antioxidants that have emerged include astaxanthin and resveratrol. Not only do they help fight free radicals more effectively, they help your skin kickstart recovery in a manner never seen before in traditional concoctions.
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