Want Great Skin?

The secret is antioxidants
By Linda Miles, LAc, DOM

Sun exposure is one of the primary causes of skin damage and aging. The free radicals created by the sun’s rays can damage just about all the struc­tures of your skin, thereby accelerating the aging process and causing fine lines, wrinkles, and dark spots.

However, as a holistic practitioner, do I want you to give up sun exposure? Absolutely not! Sunshine is needed for vitamin D synthesis (we are seeing more and more deficiency of this very important vitamin) and for the production of several “feel-good” brain chemicals.

So, how do you protect your skin from sun damage? With the superheroes of human healthfulness: antioxidants.

Studies have shown that daily supplementation with vitamins C and E, two well-known antioxidants, significantly reduces UV-induced skin damage. Taking a daily vitamin containing antioxidants plus eating a diet rich in colorful fruits and vegetables can help protect your cells from free radical damage.

Facial moisturizers loaded with antioxidants will also help protect your skin, keeping it healthy and younger looking. Research shows that Pycnogenol, astaxanthin, green tea, and pomegranate are all very effective antioxidants when applied topically. This is an important piece of information, because not all antioxidants work when applied externally to the skin.

Let’s take a closer look at these super antioxidants for optimal summer skin health.


Nature has given us this amazing ingre­dient in the bark of France’s maritime pine tree. A potent antioxidant, Pycnogenol is 50 times more effective than vitamin E as a free radical scavenger, helping to protect your skin from the damaging effects of oxidation.

Pycnogenol is also an important nutrient that builds strong capillaries, reduces puffiness around the eyes, and gives the skin smoothness and elasticity. It even enhances skin’s ability to resist inflam­mation. Pycnogenol works synergisti­cally with vitamin C to rebuild collagen and prevent UVB radiation damage.


Harvested from sea algae off the coast of Hawaii, this amazing antioxidant has been reported to be 500 times more powerful than vitamin E. Astaxanthin has the amazing ability to shut down free radicals and protect the skin from environmental stress and UV damage—it is 1,000 times more effective than both beta-carotene and lutein in protecting skin from exposure to UV light. This remarkable nutrient reduces skin inflammation, helps normalize skin, and enhances the activity of defensive cells. A natural anti-inflam­matory, it stimulates the skin cells to find and destroy potential pathogens before they can damage the skin.

Green tea

Research shows that this powerful ingredient contains strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties to help slow the signs of aging. Green tea is rich in polyphenols, which help eliminate free radicals, prevent oxidative stress, protect skin from UVA and UVB radiation damage, and reduce the number of sunburned cells.


Pomegranate is often referred to as a superfruit because it is rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Extracts of the fruit have been shown to provide anti-inflammatory and antiaging benefits that may help prevent fine lines, visibly firm the skin’s epidermis, and reduce damage from free radicals and environmental factors.

Use sunscreen!

If you intend to be outside for an extended period, definitely apply sunscreen. Today’s best sunscreens are also enriched with healthful antioxi­dants to give you both UV protection and antiaging benefits. Applying antioxidants after sun exposure can also help your skin recover more quickly from sun damage.

Remember, sun damage is not always visible instantly. Sun damage today, tomorrow, and next week causes next year’s wrinkles. So be sure to protect your skin during the summer and every day with effective antioxidants for optimal health and overall radiance.


In celebration of derma e’s 30th anniversary, derma e cofounder and formulator Dr. Linda Miles will be writing this column for one year. The column will address natural skincare solutions, natural skincare ingredients, and skincare issues.