When it comes to protecting your skin from environmental and age-related damage, it’s all about two time-tested, universally beloved methods: SPF and antioxidants. A skincare regimen that incorporates these two things is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your skin. You’re probably familiar with how SPF works (if not, here’s a little refresher!), but if you’re unclear on the vital role antioxidants play in skincare, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we cover everything you need to know about antioxidants, including the best way to incorporate them into your routine for glowing, resilient skin.

What are antioxidants, anyways?

Antioxidants are a class of ingredients that help fight against free radical damage. Our bodies are constantly generating free radicals—unstable compounds that can cause damage to our cells. This is also accelerated by environmental and lifestyle factors such as pollution, smoking, sun exposure, and poor diet. Free radicals can in turn cause oxidative stress, which, for your skin, leads to premature aging—think, a cut apple browning after it’s exposed to air. Antioxidants can help counter this by binding to free radicals and neutralizing them—imagine that same cut apple, now with lemon juice squeezed over it.

Antioxidants in skincare

There are tons of incredible antioxidant skincare ingredients, ranging from the commonly known ones like Vitamin C and Vitamin A to lesser-known options like resveratrol and superoxide dismutase. The good news is: there’s no need to choose just one. Different antioxidants have different benefits and functions, so generally, the more the merrier! The best way to include antioxidants in your skincare routine is with an antioxidant serum like the Firming Serum. The Firming Serum is unique in that it combines eight of our favorite power antioxidants along with plant-based growth proteins that encourage resilient, youthful skin.

Best-in-class antioxidants

Antioxidants can not only help protect and repair the skin, they can also help improve your skin tone and texture, decrease the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and give your skin a bright, healthy glow. Here are some of our favorite antioxidants to formulate with (all are found in the Tracie Martyn Firming Serum).

Vitamin C

Possibly the best-known antioxidant skincare ingredient, Vitamin C shows up in skincare in many forms. We use one called Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, a newer form of Vitamin C that is unique for being lipid soluble, For you, this means it can penetrate the skin better and also stay effective for longer. It also tends to be much gentler on the skin. Used regularly, it's excellent for tackling discoloration and for encouraging younger-looking skin, since your body requires Vitamin C for collagen production.


If you’ve ever heard that red wine is good for you, it’s because of resveratrol, an antioxidant compound found in the skin of red grapes. Unfortunately, we can’t tell you that drinking red wine is going to be great for your skin, but, used in skincare, resveratrol is an incredible ingredient that works on a cellular level to help repair skin and fight visible signs of aging. Fellow New Yorkers take note—it’s particularly great at protecting your skin from pollution and stress.

Superoxide Dismutase

Superoxide Dismutase is considered to be the most powerful antioxidant enzyme present in the body. It’s crucial to cellular health because it’s the first roadblock that free radicals encounter and provides the first layer of defense for your skin. Our body’s natural production of Superoxide Dismutase declines as we age, so applying it topically can help strengthen and protect the skin. (Read: “Ingredient Spotlight: Superoxide Dismutase, the Key to Youthful Skin”)


Glutathione, nicknamed the “mother of antioxidants,” is a powerful tripeptide which offers skin-restoring and brightening benefits. Glutathione is unique for its ability to “recycle” antioxidants, so when formulated with other powerful antioxidants, it may boost the efficacy of other ingredients.

Bilberry Extract

Small berries native to Northern Europe, bilberries are one of the most concentrated sources of anthocyanins—powerful antioxidants—in the plant world. Bilberry extract may also boost microcirculation, helping decrease puffiness—just one reason the Firming Serum is excellent for around the eyes!

Green Tea Extract

Green tea is a rare source of a powerhouse catechin called EGCG that gets a ton of attention from health researchers because of its potential to protect against cellular damage. It can help defend and strengthen your skin from environmental and sun damage as well as visible signs of aging.

Antioxidant Skincare