In every season, patients have different skincare needs. Winter dryness gives way to springtime moisture, summer sunlight, and fall dullness in a yearly cycle.
While effective products change from season to season, the environmental and biological factors that skincare defends against are constant year-round, just in different ratios. This is why, for example, dermatologists recommend always wearing sunscreen – even when staying indoors – because sun and blue light damage are always a threat, even when they may not be a patient’s first priority.
In this article, we’ll examine the benefits of boosting protection beyond SPF alone using antioxidant-containing products like serums.
The Root Causes of Skin Aging & Damage
Free radicals are the leading cause of preventable skin damage, decay, and visible signs of aging. Free radicals are reactive carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen chemicals that “steal” electrons from compounds in cells, causing damage to vital components such as DNA, mitochondria, and lipid barriers, which can lead to dryness, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and even skin cancer.
Sunlight contains high-energy rays, such as UVA, UVB, and HEV (high-energy visible), which cause free radicals to form when they penetrate skin. Using SPF is one great way to reduce free radical damage by reducing the amount of harmful light that enters the skin.
The term SPF means sun protection factor, which is defined as the relative amount of protection a product provides compared to untreated skin. For example, skin treated with an SPF 50 product will burn at 1/50th the speed of bare skin.
However, SPFs never block 100% of harmful light and they wear off over time, so other forms of protection complement them for better damage prevention. Antioxidants provide excellent synergy with SPF by eliminating free radicals that manage to form from any light that penetrates the skin.
How do antioxidants work?
Free radicals in cells want to take electrons from anywhere they can – but antioxidants step in and neutralize them by gently handing over electrons, preventing the free radicals from destroying other important molecules, like DNA, lipids, and proteins.
CosMedical’s founder, Dr. Loretta Ciraldo, formulated our lineup of medical-grade products that use powerful antioxidants. Her research on vitamin C – an antioxidant that helps reduce sun damage – in the 1970s helped lay the scientific foundation for sun protection as we know it today.
Since then, CosMedical has created several products using protective antioxidants such as tetrahexydecyl ascorbate, Lipochroman®, green tea, and winthania somnifera (winter cherry), to name only a few.
Our serums complement and enhance the benefits of a well-formulated SPF using antioxidants:
- C-Stem® – contains tetrahexadecyl ascorbate, a form of vitamin C with enhanced skin penetration, to provide extra free-radical protection. C-Stem® also uses gene modulators and tyrosinase inhibitors to dramatically reduce hyperpigmentation, lines, and wrinkles.
- Vita Soothe – contains Lipochroman®, the strongest antioxidant on the market today. While most antioxidants only defend against one or two types of free radicals, Lipochroman® is the only antioxidant that protects against carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen free radicals simultaneously, greatly enhancing protection to collagen, proteins, and lipids.
- Green Tea Antioxidant Serum – contains green tea extract, which is high in antioxidant polyphenols, along with vitamin E. In addition to free radical protection, these ingredients offer excellent anti-inflammatory properties, reducing redness and acne.
- HA+ Firming Boost – contains winthania somnifera (winter cherry), an antioxidant that also protects against blue (HEV) light. HA+ Firming Boost also uses hyaluronic acid and snow mushroom extract to penetrate skin for greater hydration and firmness.
How to Select an SPF
As a general rule of thumb, more protection is always better for reducing skin damage and preventable signs of skin aging. An ideal SPF should not only protect against UVA and UVB; but it should also provide antioxidants for protection against environmental hazards like pollution and HEV light.
We recommend Radiant Shield SPF 40, a globally protective, tinted, anti-aging moisturizing sunscreen. Radiant Shield protects against UVA and UVB with zinc oxide; repairs the skin barrier, prevents damage from HEV and IR light, and hydrates with Ectoin®; provides the strongest antioxidant protection on the market with Lipochroman®; and brightens and firms with a botanical blend.
Radiant Shield is a one-of-a-kind SPF that works great on its own or in combination with any of our serums.
When to Wear More Than Just SPF
Dermatologists recommend for patients to wear SPF year-round, and adding antioxidant-rich products like serums causes skin to become even healthier, brighter, and more youthful.
More protection is always better, and ideally, patients should use antioxidant-containing products in their regimen in addition to SPF, since both complement each other. This becomes even more essential when patients are heading outdoors, since their exposure to environmental factors that cause free radicals is increased.
Patients who are prone to acne, redness, hyperpigmentation, and lines and wrinkles will also find that their regimen is more effective when they use a combination of both antioxidant-containing serums and SPF.
For more information about CosMedical’s serum products, read this article next.