What to do about wrinkles: The Evidence behind Antioxidants in Skincare

As we get older, our skin starts to age and usually wrinkle. While it is estimated that we will all start showing (natural) skin aging when we are in our sixties (1) most of us will start to show the signs of premature skin aging will before that (2).

Approximately 80% of this premature aging is related to sun exposure (particularly UVA radiation).The impact of exposure to the sun’s UV and other pollutants results in the production of Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) which are unstable oxygen-containing molecules. These molecules result in chain reactions within the body which ends up (in the case of wrinkles) in a reduction in collagen in the skin. It also results in an increasingly disorganised network of interwoven collagen, elastic fibres. This decrease in the elasticity and regularity results in the skin wrinkling (3). 

So what does the evidence say about wrinkles? Use Antioxidants!

Antioxidants are compounds that stabilise ROS (one of the key reasons for premature skin aging and wrinkles). The application of antioxidants to our skin can have a significant impact on reducing the signs of aging, including wrinkles (4).

How Antioxidants work

 Antioxidants reduce signs of aging by either donating electrons or binding to ROS (5). While we synthesise some antioxidants, others (like Vitamin C) are only acquired through our diet (6).  

But, while there are many antioxidants, there are not many with proven ability to work effectively when applied in a skincare product (7). Below are the antioxidants that have concrete evidence of working to reduce signs of aging. 

When it comes to Antioxidants, remember your A, B, Cs:

  • Vitamin A

The best evidence for the management of sun-related aging is in using Retinoids (Vitamin A) (8) Of all the cosmeceutical forms of Vitamin A, Retinal (in ESK’s Ultimate A and Ultimate A+) is the most effective and least irritating (9). Retinal is much more effective than Retinol, which is much more commonly found in skincare than Retinal.

How Vitamin A works:
While there are many forms, they all ultimately work by converting to Retinoic acid which binds with receptors in the skin. This stimulates a number of processes, one of which results in the building of collagen in the skin (10). And this, in turn, results in a decrease in wrinkles (11). While Retinoic acid (Tretinoin) is well studied and is highly effective, it is also irritating (12). 

  • Vitamin B3

Otherwise known as Niacinamide has been shown to decrease wrinkles, in part through its action as an antioxidant, but also by building collagen (13). But it can do much more than that (like increase skin elasticity, reduce hyperpigmentation, help manage acne and Rosacea and also reduce the risk of skin cancer)) (14)… Which is why we include in ESK’s B Calm, B Quenched, Enlighten, Ultimate A and Ultimate A+

  • Vitamin C

Vitamin C acts as an antioxidant and reduces pigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines, and crow’s feet. It also brightens and evens out skin tone while protecting and repairing your skin from UV ray damage. Vitamin C also helps promote and produce collagen and elastin.

Not all forms of vitamin C in skincare are the same. There is only one pure form and several derivative forms.  The best studied and best evidence is for L-Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C) (15).

As our products are evidence-base, we have used L-Ascorbic Acid for the Vitamin C in our Reverse C Serum and C Serum Lite to ensure it has all the benefits of Vitamin C. 

Creating an effective evidence based anti-aging range is why we started ESK. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the ingredients with the best evidence for managing wrinkles are found in ESK products.

Other articles you might be interested in:


  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27496663 
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25351668
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496685/
  4. https://www.skintherapyletter.com/family-practice/cosmeceuticals-anti-aging-fp/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496685/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4496685/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16528359
  8. https://www.skintherapyletter.com/family-practice/cosmeceuticals-anti-aging-fp/ 
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20442078
  10. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20442078
  11. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23369589
  12. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18046911
  13. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2921764/
  14. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17147561)
  15. https://www.skintherapyletter.com/family-practice/cosmeceuticals-anti-aging-fp/ 
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