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What Is The Role of Antioxidants in Rosacea?

What Is The Role of Antioxidants in Rosacea?: Antioxidants in many forms can assist in rosacea treatment by better defending vulnerable skin.

With many caveats, antioxidants can be of great benefit in treatment and management of rosacea.


Medical studies and clinical experience have shown that properly formulated topical antioxidant products (antioxidants which you apply directly to skin) have been shown to have great benefit for rosacea and other skin concerns, particularly aging.

Antioxidants in skin care products can work to help prevent the skin-damaging effects of flushing by exerting an anti-inflammatory effect which assists the skin's natural ability to resolve redness and heal.

Antioxidants are also effective in bolstering the UV protection offered by sunscreens.

As most rosacea patients are now aware, sunscreens, while essential, are only able to prevent approximately half the skin damage attributable to UV.

By applying an antioxidant product underneath sunscreen (or using sunscreens containing antioxidants) the efficacy of sunscreens at preventing UV-induced rosacea symptoms and limiting photodamage, responsible for approximately 70% of the signs of visible skin aging, is greatly enhanced.

In one study, the application of high concentrations of polyphenols from green tea underneath sunscreen provided ~12x the protection of sunscreen alone.

The anti-inflammatory and protective benefits of antioxidants also appear to reduce side effects and improve the outcome of various forms of rosacea treatment, including topical medications and laser treatments.

What Is An Antioxidant?

The term "antioxidant" is bandied about in the media and among consumers with little appreciation for what it means.

Not all antioxidants are helpful.

Some, such as the skin bleach hydroquinone, can be harmful and potentially toxic.

"Antioxidant" refers to a substance or molecule which protects others from oxidation.

To oxide is to combine with oxygen.

The rust which inevitably forms on steel is an example of oxidation and the progressive recombining of the steel with the environment from which it came.

We live in a oxygen-rich environment and the human body requires oxygen for its anaerobic and aerobic metabolism.

Because the body generates more energy than is required to stay alive from moment to moment, and because the skin can only keep at bay rather than overcome the oxygen in its surrounding environment, there is an excess of oxygen affecting both.

The skin possesses endogenous antioxidants, backed up by dietary antioxidants (and if used, topically-applied antioxidants) which forestall its demise.

In nature, antioxidants work in synergy, forming a protective network in response to the oxidative stress of free oxygen (free radicals) by supporting the efforts of each and regenerating them for as long as possible.

What Are The Best Antioxidants for Rosacea Patients?

Antioxidants which benefit rosacea are those which are not irritating, have a molecular size small enough to be able to be absorbed, formulated into a product which will allow and encourage it to penetrate.

It is not currently known which are best, however the category of antioxidants known as polyphenols appear to be the most promising.

Because the skin is made up of oil-attracting/water-repelling and water-soluble/oil-repelling components, antioxidants should be both water and oil-soluble for the broadest possible spectrum of benefit.

Accordingly, and because antioxidants work better in combinations than alone, the skin should be exposed to at least two antioxidants at once.

Which Antioxidant Products Should I Use?

Despite extensive marketing focusing on antioxidants in skin care, there are virtually no such products available which are genuinely effective.

There are many factors contributing to this unfortunate scenario.

Being that effective antioxidants are necessarily chemically unstable they have short shelf lives, however mass-produced products require extended shelf-lives.

Manufacturers have responded by reducing the beneficial antioxidant content of their products to almost 0% to prevent detectable spoilage.

This allows for the inclusion of a marketed ingredient despite it being of effectively no use to the user's skin.

High antioxidant content in products frequently produces unusual textures, colours and scents which consumers are quick to reject.

Manufacturers also generally avoid glass, hermetic and airless packaging required to preserve antioxidants up to the moment of application.

Certain ingredients such as preservatives including the parabens, certain botanicals, various chemicals, colouring and fragrances can compromise or negate a product's antioxidant potential.

In a handful of cases formulators have modified natural antioxidants for increased chemical stability, however these modified antioxidants have tended to be markedly less effective than the originals from which they have been derived.

Two examples, ascorbyl palmitate (a modified form of ascorbic acid, also known as Vitamin C) and idebenone (a modified form of ubiquinone, also known as CoEnzyme Q-10) demonstrated increased levels of free radical damage to skin and produced severe allergic reactions, some requiring hospitalization.

Clinical Antioxidants

The Clinic's pharmacy produces products free of the encumbrances of typical skin care, allowing patients to benefit from high levels of antioxidants, chemically stable up to the point of application, and able to be absorbed by skin.

Further Information

Antioxidants Used In Skin Care Formulations — Skin Therapy Letter.

Nine Things You Should Know About Antioxidants — Canadian Living.

Skin Care Vitamins and Antioxidants — WebMD.

Stability of Skin Care Ingredients — Melbourne Dermatology.

Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate replaces Ascorbyl Palmitate in N.V. Perricone Products — Melbourne Dermatology.

Ascorbyl palmitate is not significantly effective against inhibiting UVB induced skin erythema — Melbourne Dermatology.

Allergic contact dermatitis to idebenone used as an antioxidant in an anti-wrinkle cream — Contact Dermatitis Journal.


Author: Peter Wilson.

Reviewed: Sunday, November 24, 2013.


Further Information: Antioxidants : What Is The Role of Antioxidants in Rosacea? :




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