The biggest threat to our skin lurks ALL over. From the air all around us to the smartphone or screen you’re staring at right now. 

It’s super scary but there’s skin care ingredients that can help.

Say hello to antioxidants.

Skin care, like any industry that makes money, is a lot of marketing and buzzwords. But there are real things that can do amazing things for our skin. Antioxidants are one of them.

The air is filled with free radicals, which are molecules that come from everything from the sun’s rays, pollution and cigarette smoke to blue light, like that from our smartphones and other screens we sit in front of.

Free radicals are unstable atoms. If you think back to high school chemistry, unstable atoms mean its outer shell is not full. These unstable atoms want to bond with other atoms, using the new atom’s electrons to fill its shell.

When free radicals are in the air, it’s basically a search-and-destroy mission: they seek the molecules in your skin to bond to. Too much of this bonding causes “oxidative stress” in skin which leads to dark spots, dullness and wrinkles and even skin damage. Unfairly and like everything else, it becomes even harder to fight the effects of free radicals as we age.

That’s where antioxidants come in.

Antioxidants prevent the effects of free radicals by giving up an electron to the free radical, which stabilizes it and lessens the chances it will damage your skin.

Antioxidants can be found in dozens of different skin care products and each has its own set of benefits aside from stopping free radical damage. Look for ingredients such as retinol ( or other vitamin A derivatives) that speed up cell turnover; vitamin C, which fades dark spots and speeds up collagen production; coenzyme Q-10 (CoQ-10), which firms skin; alpha lipoic acid (found in green tea) which soothes inflammation; or vitamin E, which plumps skin and smooths lines and wrinkles.

There’s tons of options when it comes to antioxidants — you just need to find the right one for you.