BEAUTY

Do Antioxidant Serums Actually Work? Here’s What We Know

They've become an integral part of skincare routines for beauty lovers and dermatologists alike.

Besides offering us a few extra minutes of precious “me-time” every morning and night, skincare plays an important part in keeping our skin looking and feeling as healthy as possible. That extends to the specific products we use, which is where antioxidant serums can come in.

This is one product recommended by both beauty lovers and dermatologists, with many potential benefits for our skin.

So what exactly is an antioxidant serum…and is it as vital to our routines as the experts say?

What Are Antioxidants?

Not only beneficial for the skin, antioxidants play an integral role in protecting our bodies from damage caused by free radicals and oxidative stress. Free radicals are a by-product of oxidation, a naturally-occurring (and necessary) part of the body’s metabolic process.

Free radicals have their benefits, like helping the immune system tackle viruses and bacteria, and are a normal part of how the body functions. But a buildup can cause “oxidative stress”, damaging cells and impacting overall health.

Broadly speaking, free radical damage has been linked to a number of ill effects but can also have detrimental effects on our skin. Oxidative stress has the potential to compromise lipids in the outer layer of the skin, adversely affecting the skin’s barrier properties. This can lead to skin dehydration—as water loss increases—as well as a greater propensity for reactivity, sensitivity and aggravation.

Oxidative stress—in which free radicals are produced in excess—can also be exacerbated by lifestyle or environmental factors, such as stress and diet as well as exposure to UV rays, airborne particulates or other skin stressors often encountered by city dwellers.

Enter: antioxidants. Found in food and nutrients like vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E and zinc, as well as phytochemicals in plants, they help inhibit oxidation and the proliferation of free radicals, which can lead to oxidative stress.

How Does An Antioxidant Serum Work For Skin?

While it’s recommended to get plenty of antioxidants via our diet, many skincare products also boast antioxidant-rich formulations that can help counter the effects of oxidative stress on the skin.

Aesop antioxidant serum texture
Serums are an ideal way to boost the antioxidants in our skin, thanks to their lightweight and highly concentrated formulations. (Credit: Supplied)

Serums provide a popular and effective way to deliver antioxidants to the skin. These low-viscosity, aqueous formulations are often highly concentrated, and amenable to layering and blending with other products, making them a versatile option for any skincare routine.

Plus, although regular intake of foods rich in antioxidants is always a good idea, topical application offers significant benefits as a means of further bolstering, and therefore supporting, our skin.

The main role of an antioxidant serum? To deliver skin-supportive antioxidants in a lightweight format to help fortify the skin against the effects of environmental stressors.

Many antioxidant serums also have dual benefits, with formulations that not only offer skin-supporting properties, but can hydrate, replenish and address other skin concerns as well.

Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum is ideal for those in urban environments, with its formulation distinguished by the breathable film it forms on the skin, thanks to extracts of Red Algae and Tara Gum.

The imperceptible—yet effective—barrier helps to minimise landing of airborne particulates, while a suite of antioxidants (including Grape Seed, Green Tea and Parsley Seed extracts supported by nourishing Vitamin E) help to fortify and nurture skin.

Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum
Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum, 60mL, $110. (Credit: Supplied)

It’s also enriched with Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), Panthenol (Provitamin B5) and Bisabolol for moisture-binding and hydrating efficacy.

How Do I Use An Antioxidant Serum?

Due to their lightweight and quick-absorbing formulations—which are often highly concentrated and rich in active ingredients—antioxidant serums should generally be applied as the first step after cleansing and toning.

Massage three to five drops—depending on your chosen serum’s instructions—into face and neck, waiting until it’s touch-dry (usually around a minute) before applying further products.

As for the question on whether to use morning or night? The answer is both.

Aesop Parsley Seed Anti-Oxidant Intense Serum is suitable for both day and night usage, with the formulation imparting a breathable film to help bolster the skin while you go about your day, and hydration benefits that come into play as your rest.

Brought to you by Aesop.

Research sources
1. https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/antioxidants
2. https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/antioxidants/
3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/38018479/

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