Choosing antioxidant supplements and skincare in store or online is a wild ride – we’re marketed with claims of the “ultimate” anti-ageing pill, or “serums that “turn back the clock.” Are you kidding? There’s no such thing, don’t fall for it. It’s deceptive, it’s inaccurate and one could argue, illegal marketing.


Skin ageing is a natural, complex process influenced by two factors; intrinsic (genetic, chronological) ageing resulting from the passage of time, and extrinsic ageing (photoaging), caused by environmental factors (including UV radiation, environmental pollution and cigarette smoke). The two processes overlap and are closely linked to oxidative stress in the skin. Essentially, antioxidants are believed to counterbalance the effects of internal and external oxidative stressors, and may delay further cell damage.

Your baseline antioxidant protocol should include Vitamin A or beta-carotene, Vitamin C, and Vitamin E – I refer to these as ‘the main event’. There’s always the option of ‘accessorising’ with effective supplementary vitamins, herbs, and botanicals  – that’s where things start getting pricey.


Vitamin A can take one of three forms in the human body: retinol, retinal and retinoic acid. How do you get vitamin A from your diet? From eating both plant and animal-derived whole foods, which provide two different forms of vitamin A.

The two primary forms of vitamin A obtained from foods are beta-carotene (found in certain plant foods, especially those that are orange, red and yellow) and active vitamin A, also called retinol (found in certain animal foods like eggs or organ meats).

Beta-caratene is a precursor to Vitiman Aand is converted in the body into active vitamin A (retinol) as needed. Vitamin A deficiency is rare, and in supplement form should only be taken under the supervision of a medical doctor. Oral vitamin A and high doses of beta carotene are extremely dangerous if taken by smokers, because of the correlation between smokers, lung cancer, and Vitamin A.

Eat it

Beta-carotene is a pigment found in plants that gives yellow and orange fruits and vegetables their color, a powerful antioxidant that plays a critical role in maintaining healthy vision, skin, and neurological function.

A diet high in carotenoids, such as beta carotene, can help prevent cell damage, skin aging, and skin diseases. Carotenoids can also help protect  your skin from environmental factors like pollution and UV radiation, which can also affect skin health and appearance. Vitamin A is a superstar. It repairs skin cells and reduces the risk of psoriasis. What’s more, it can speed up the healing process of the skin and can prevent breakouts. It’s also been known to support the skin’s immune system and promote natural moisturizing.

The richest sources of beta-carotene are yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, plus leafy green vegetables. – the brighter and more intense the color, the more beta-carotene is present in that food.

To get about six to eight milligrams a day, eat five or more servings of fruits and vegetables, especially these foods:

Carrots, pumpkin, spinach, sweet potato, kale, orange melon, apricots and mangoes, papaya, eggs, butter, tomatoes,

Apply it

Retinoids are one of the most widely researched ingredients for caring for maturing skin and often touted as the gold standard for reducing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, large pores, and more. Your skin is retinoid-responsive, which means it can readily absorb vitamin A when you apply it topically.

Retinoids work by neutralising free radicals in the skin that may be causing collagen damage. They can also enhance skin shedding and reduce inflammation and increase cell turnover in skin. OTC retinol creams and serums can help minimise the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, as well as light discoloration. Along with full-face options, you can also find creams specifically for use around your eyes or neck. A dermatologist can prescribe stronger retinoids to help address deeper wrinkles, skin sagging, and age spots.

Even OTC retinoids can make your skin more sensitive to the sun, on the days after application, avoid sun exposure and always wear sunscreen.


This water-soluble antioxidant helps your body build collagen, and boosts immunity. It not only promotes fibroblast proliferation4 (fibroblasts are the cells that produce collagen and other fibers), but it also acts as an assistant (a “cofactor”) in enzymatic activity that relates directly to skin health and function. Its association with cells that control skin pigmentation (melanocytes) makes it a helpful ingredient in products that address skin discoloration. 

Supplementing it

Because your body doesn’t produce vitamin C, you need to get it from your diet or through supplementing it. The recommended vitamin C dosage per day for healthy women is 75 mg per day and for men it’s 90 mg per day. For adults, the tolerable upper intake level (UL) — the highest daily intake likely to pose no risks — is 2,000 mg per day. The sweet spot is 1,000mg per day.

Eating it

Getting your nutrients and vitamins from natural food sources is always first prize. The  cheat sheet below can point you in the right direction of vitamin C rich foods to include in your diet on the daily.

Apply it

Topical vitamin C is a multipurpose workhorse that can protect, repair, and enhance your skin and pressing vitamin C in serum form, after it’s been chemically altered, lets our skin absorb vitamin C more efficiently. Vitamin C can appear on the ingredient label as several different names, but the one you want is L-ascorbic acid, and you’re aiming for a concentration level of between 10 and 20 percent.


Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties. Though vitamin E is often thought of as a single compound, it’s a group of eight fat-soluble compounds with powerful antioxidant effects. It’s these antioxidants that make it effective at combating the effects of free radicals produced by the metabolism of food and toxins in the environment.

Vitamin E has been known to be effective at reducing UV damage in skin, and if applied topically, may help nourish and protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals.

It could also protect cells from damage caused by the sun’s ultraviolet radiation, a cause of wrinkles and fine lines, it also has emollient properties that can soften and strengthen the skin barrier. Vitamin E levels deplete as we age, thus coveted for its powerful skin barrier supporting properties.

Eat it

Fortunately, vitamin E is abundant throughout the food supply, making it easy to meet daily needs through diet. It’s especially rich in many types of oils, nuts, and seeds, as well as certain types of fruits and vegetables. Top scoring foods you want to look out for are wheat germ, sunflower seeds, almonds, hazelnuts, spinach, avocado, butternut squash, pine nuts, olive oil, peanuts, sweet potato, and tomatoes.

Apply it

To incorporate it into your skin care routine, look for products that contain vitamin E. Labels typically list it as tocopherol or tocotrienol. Moisturizers with as little as 0.1% can improve vitamin E levels in skin. Even better are products that include both vitamin C and E. These antioxidants work better together.