Protecting your skin from the sun not only staves off the signs of early aging, but it also prevents skin cancers from forming. The notion of wearing sunscreen daily is a common topic in the media and amongst skin care experts. However, the idea of pairing your SPF with an antioxidant is not as widely known. Antioxidants not only work to prevent free radical damage to cells, but they also pick up where sunscreen leaves off. Here is all you need to know about antioxidants, sunscreen’s most important sidekick. How to incorporate antioxidants into your skincare routine While eating a plethora of leafy greens and berries will help to boost antioxidant levels from the inside, there are also skincare ingredients that help topically. The best topical antioxidants are: Vitamin C Vitamin E Plant stem cells Ferulic Acid How important are antioxidants to the skin? Oxidative stress can damage your DNA. Smoking, pollution, and UV rays all cause oxidative stress. “The skin needs proper tools to be able to fight against the damage caused by free radicals,” explains Dr. Nava Greenfield, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City. “That’s where antioxidants come in. Antioxidants are works by countering free radicals, preventing their damage to skin cell DNA.” How is vitamin C beneficial to the skin? “Vitamin C is a very powerful and potent antioxidant that is often used in topical skin care products because it can penetrate the skin and absorb providing beneficial antioxidant effects,” says Dr. Greenfield. Vitamin C can help anti-aging efforts, improve fine lines and discoloration. Vitamin C is also perfect for stimulating collagen and improving skin discoloration as well as combating environmental damage. Try HydroPeptide Firma-Bright Vitamin C Booster, a potent antioxidant serum that can be added to any moisturizer. Perfect for use in the morning before applying your sunscreen. How antioxidants help support sun protection Broad-spectrum sunscreens do a very good job at helping to prevent sunburn from UVA and UVB rays, but there is additional DNA damage to consider when thinking about complete sun protection. A combination of antioxidants—in particular, vitamins C and E—have been shown in studies to do a better job of protecting the skin against sun damage than just sunscreen alone. The study says “vitamin C is capable of additive protection against acute UVB damage (sunburn cell formation) when combined with a UVB sunscreen. When vitamin C or a combination of vitamin C and E is formulated with a commercial UVA sunscreen, an apparently greater than additive protection is noted against the phototoxic damage.” What are the benefits of using an antioxidant in spring and summer? Spring and summer time are months of peak UV absorption in the skin. “DNA damage can accumulate very quickly during this time of year and accelerate the skin’s aging process,” explains Dr. Greenfield. “Free radicals caused by ultraviolet rays damage the skin, and if not countered by antioxidants, can result in accumulated DNA damage which further harms the skin.” Bottom line is that you want to be incorporating an antioxidant into your skincare routine all the time, but especially in the spring and summer. Antioxidants from plant stem cells While vitamins C and E are the most widely credited sources of antioxidants, there is an exciting crop of ingredients that show promising results in terms of providing your skin with antioxidant protection. According to studies, plant stem cells are a safe and effective way to incorporate antioxidants into your skincare routine. “The extracts derived from plant stem cells are the source of many active substances that are safe for the human body because they do not produce the response of the immune system. Their acquisition is environmentally friendly and possible even in the case of hard to reach or endangered plants, without causing interference and disturbance in their natural habitat.” The article “Anti-Aging Properties of Plant Stem Cell Extracts” in the journal Cosmetics, says: Plant stem cells are responsible for many positive cosmetic effects, including: Extending the life of fibroblasts and stimulating their activity Increasing the flexibility of the epidermis Regulating cell division Rebuilding damaged epidermis Activating DNA repair of the cells, protecting them from oxidative stress Protecting against UV radiation Try HydroPeptide HydroStem Serum, a powerful treatment that pairs rejuvenating peptides with plant extracts to protect against UV and pollution damage. The antioxidant-rich botanical stem cells nourish skin cells and enhance skin vibrancy and luminosity to create more radiant, visibly firmed skin. How do we protect our skin from the sun? Along with daily use of an antioxidant product, there are other important steps to take to ensure your skin is properly protected from the sun, including: Make sure to apply your sunscreen 15-30 minutes before heading out. Use approximately two tablespoons of sunscreen to cover your body. Seek shade between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., this is when the sun’s rays are the strongest. Cover up with sun-protective clothing and accessories, such as wearing a large-brimmed hat, and UV-blocking sunglasses. Don’t forget to reapply – sunscreen needs to be reapplied every two hours when spending time outdoors. Apply SPF immediately after sweating or swimming. Try the HydroPeptide collection of sunscreens for face, body and hands. All of our SPFs are made with skin-soothing ingredients and mineral-based sunscreens.