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Plants are awesome! Not only can they clean our air, purify our water and feed our bodies, they can also be used to help protect and pamper our skin, inside and out. 

What are antioxidants and what do they do?

An antioxidant is a molecule with an ability to neutralize harmful free radical substances in the body. Free radicals are compounds that have imbalances to their molecular structure and seek out and steal components from other molecules. This can be problematic when free radicals steal pieces of essential molecules within the human body leading to illness. An example of this is when a free radical steals components from human DNA, changing its chemical structure and leading conditions like cancer [1]. Free radicals are linked to numerous diseases including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer [1]. Luckily, the body produces native antioxidants and obtains them from the diet that fight free radicals. These antioxidants bind to the free radicals, rendering them stable, harmless and preventing them from damaging the body. 

How are antioxidants beneficial to skin?

Just like other tissues in the body, skin is vulnerable to damage from free radicals. Since skin is our first line of defence against the outside world, it readily comes into contact with free radical-causing factors. External stressors like UV light, pollution and other compounds (like cigarette smoke) encourage free radicals to form in the skin. Antioxidants found within the skin’s tissue are important to help locate and neutralize free radicals before they can cause damage. If our body’s natural antioxidant defence becomes overwhelmed by the number of free radicals in the skin it can lead to protein damage, collagen fiber degradation, dark spots and skin cancer [2]. Antioxidants help skin remain supple, bright and healthy.

Where do antioxidants come from?

Antioxidants are made within the cells of both plants and animals. Humans produce several powerful antioxidants including alpha lipoic acid and glutathione, while plants generate antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C, flavonoids and more. Humans can absorb a range of antioxidants from plant foods in the diet and put them to work throughout the body. Some excellent sources of antioxidants are richly pigmented fruits and vegetables like berries, citrus, leafy greens and pumpkin. 

Antioxidants in the diet

Eating a diet rich in plant foods is an excellent way to provide your body and skin with antioxidants. Generally, the more pigmented and colourful the fruit or veg, the more antioxidants it contains. While these antioxidants can help protect you from some of the effects of UV rays, they are never a substitute for sunscreen. Pairing your SPF with supplementation is always the best route to go when it comes to practicing safe sun. So, whether it’s from your food or a reputable natural health product, antioxidants in the diet are essential in the maintenance of youthful, healthy, radiant skin.  

Antioxidants in skin care

Antioxidants applied topically can help provide some extra defence against free radicals and have been shown to promote natural antioxidant production within the skin’s dermis [6]. Since virtually all plants produce antioxidants, natural skin care is a great place to look for these topical power-house ingredients. Here are some of the top antioxidant ingredients and where to find them:

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is the hero in Consonant Vitamin E + Oat Serum. This antioxidant helps to boost skin’s natural defences, protect against environmental damage and fight the early signs of skin aging. As a vitamin that plays best with oils, it's deeply moisturizing and can protect against irritation due to dryness.

Vitamin B3

This antioxidant is great for promoting skin clarity. Studies have shown that topical application of niacinamide has many potential skin benefits, including improved skin hydration, reduced fine lines and wrinkles, decreased brown spots, improved skin blotchiness, and better skin elasticity [7, 8]. Consonant Vitamin B3 + Zinc Serum contains the optimal 10% concentration of vitamin B3 to help boost skin clarity and keep it looking youthful and healthy.

Gotu Kola

Gotu kola is a small green herb who’s extracts contain high concentrations of triterpenoids, a class of chemical compounds that play a role in plants’ self-defence mechanisms. When applied to the skin the flavonoids, tannins and polyphenol-containing triterpenoids have been shown to exhibit potent antioxidant and protective benefits in the skin [8]. The result is more hydrated, radiant and soothed skin. Gotu kola can be found in the Consonant Natural Foaming Face Wash and HydrExtreme Charcoal Sheet Mask.

The Bottom Line

Plants produce some amazing skin-loving substances including antioxidants. These tiny nutrients are both manufactured and absorbed by the body to fight damaging free radicals. So, whether you’re getting them through your snacks, supplements or serums, they’re our top pick natural protection for our body and skin. 


[1] Suleman, M., Khan, A., Baqi, A., Kakar, M. S., & Ayub, M. (2019). 2. Antioxidants, its role in preventing free radicals and infectious diseases in human body. Pure and Applied Biology (PAB)8(1), 380-388.

[2] McDaniel, D., Farris, P., & Valacchi, G. (2018). Atmospheric skin aging—Contributors and inhibitors. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology17(2), 124-137.

[3] Russo, A., et al. "Red orange extract: effect on DNA cleavage." Journal of Food Science 67.8 (2002): 2814-2818.

[4] Cimino, Francesco, et al. "Protective effects of a red orange extract on UVB-induced damage in human keratinocytes." Biofactors 30.2 (2007): 129-138.

[5] Puglia, Carmelo, et al. "Protective effect of red orange extract supplementation against UV‐induced skin damages: photoaging and solar lentigines." Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology 13.2 (2014): 151-157.

[6] Burke, K. E. (2018). Mechanisms of aging and development—A new understanding of environmental damage to the skin and prevention with topical antioxidants. Mechanisms of ageing and development172, 123-130.

[7] Bissett, D. L., Miyamoto, K., Sun, P., Li, J., & Berge, C. A. (2004). Topical niacinamide reduces yellowing, wrinkling, red blotchiness, and hyperpigmented spots in aging facial skin 1. International journal of cosmetic science26(5), 231-238.

[8] Allemann, I. B., & Baumann, L. (2008). Antioxidants used in skin care formulations. Skin Therapy Lett13(7), 5-9.

[9] Malinowska, P. (2013). Effect of flavonoids content on antioxidant activity of commercial cosmetic plant extracts. Herba Polonica59(3), 63-75.


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