#NourishYourSkin Series: Antioxidants part 2 - What is Oxidative Stress and who are Antioxidants for?

As part of our ongoing efforts to demystify buzz words and popularise high-performance skincare ingredients, let’s talk about antioxidants. Many of our day-to-day activities create the premises for oxidative stress to occur ; read on to find out more about the definition of oxidative stress as well as its key causes and effects. If you want to know more about what are antioxidants, their benefits and the potent ones we carefully selected for the Nourish London range, you can find Part 1 of this blog here.

What is Oxidative Stress?

Many natural actives possess antioxidant qualities. In fact, the definition of antioxidant is any active that protects cells from the damage caused by oxidative stress.

If ‘oxidative stress’ sounds very abstract, think processed foods, exposure to outdoor / indoor chemical pollution, or a heatwave. This process triggers the so-called free radicals, highly unstable molecules that cause oxidative damage. The definition of oxidative stress is an imbalance between antioxidants and free radicals in our body. In our diet, antioxidants provide much-needed compounds to help preserve our health in a variety of ways and neutralise free radicals in the body. This is one of the reasons a rainbow-coloured and highly varied Mediterranean diet is so popular (and likely to have your doctor’s approval).

Many antioxidants are unique in how they function to preserve vitality and even work in a synergy. This applies to our powerful cosmetic antioxidants too. An example: Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid are both found in Argan Oil and together enhance their antioxidant activity on the skin, making Argan one of the most sought-after anti-ageing oils.

The Atomic Level

Here at Nourish London we are real skin science geeks, so let’s step back for a moment and look at what happens at the atomic level when oxidative stress occurs.

What is Oxidative Stress Infographics Explanation

Our bodies are made up of molecules which are made up of atoms. For atoms in our body to be happy and stable they need to contain a pair of electrons. When an atom is missing an electron the resulting atom is called free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are very reactive and react to cause damage in the skin. They cause damage to our skin's DNA and accelerate ageing.

The body produces free radicals and ROS (reactive oxygen species) in mitochondria. In simple terms, mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cells – their main role is to produce energy within cells. They have a role in cells' signaling and are produced and removed by the body in balance. But external factors can generate more free radicals and ROS which creates an imbalance. When this imbalance occurs, oxidative stress happens in the skin. The main factors causing oxidative stress are the environment (pollution, UV) or our lifestyle (bad eating habits, smoking, drinking alcohol, drugs, pesticides or chemicals exposure, insufficient sleep, stress, etc.)

Antipollution skincare aims to help the skin deal with the effects of free radicals and avoid the consequences of oxidative stress such as increased wrinkles, saggy skin, epidermal thickness, dull skin, hyperpigmentation (from UVA or UVB rays).

Who are Antioxidants for?

One of the most common questions you ask us when we present a new product: ‘what skin type needs this’? When it comes to antioxidants, the answer is simple: anyone can benefit from an anti-oxidant boost in their skincare. As our founder Dr Pauline Hili likes to remind us, these actives are even more effective in bringing skincare results when applied topically. In the long run, the constant skin repair encouraged by these molecules helps provide a visible improvement. Oxidative stress is a key player in premature skin ageing which is important to keep in mind when choosing the best actives for your skin type.

Who are Antioxidants For?

In fact, most widespread skin concerns will benefit from integrating Antioxidants. To make it extra easy to find the best suited actives for your skin we have created a handy list with frequent skin concerns and the matching Antioxidants. You can read them all if (like us) you are a skincare fanatic or skip directly to the ones that speak to your current skin needs!

Hyperpigmentation and Age Spots

Best Antioxidants For Skin Concerns: Hyperpigmentation & Age Spot, Lacklustre skin, Congestion

  • Turmerone – A powerful compound derived from Turmeric (Curcuma Longa), Turmerone works as an Antioxidant by inducing cellular defence mechanisms against oxidative stress. It was also shown to decrease wrinkle depth and increase skin radiance, as well as even out skin tone. This ingredient is prominently featured in our NEW Antioxidant Peptide Mist.
  • Vitamin C – Obtained via fresh Citrus fruits or isolated from plant extracts, Vitamin C is by far the queen of antioxidants. Proven to boost immune response in the body, it instantly firms, even skin tones and encourages collagen production when applied topically. Vitamin C is featured in many if our products and particularly in our Antioxidant Multi-Tasking Super Balm.
  • Liquorice Extract – The Liquorice root (Glycyrrhiza glabra) has been used in Asia for centuries to diminish inflammation and thanks to its compound glabridin, it helps inhibit the enzyme that causes pigmentation. It also has anti-irritation and purifying properties so it is truly suitable for all skin needs and feels. This ingredient is featured in our NEW Antioxidant Peptide Mist.

Lacklustre skin, Congestion

  • Turmerone – A powerful compound derived from Turmeric (Curcuma Longa), Turmerone works as an Antioxidant by inducing cellular defence mechanisms against oxidative stress. It was also shown to decrease wrinkle depth and increase skin radiance, as well as even out skin tone. This ingredient is prominently featured in our NEW Antioxidant Peptide Mist.
  • Omega-rich Oils – By supporting skin healing and the hydrolipidic film, Omega-rich oils can be beneficial when suffering from blocked pores. Rosehip Oil and Macadamia Oil, rich in antioxidant Linoleic Acid is present in our Radiance Firming Facial Oil, perfect used against skin congestion.
  • Kale – One of our signature ingredients, Kale (Brassica Oleracea) is helpful to congested skin in a variety of ways: firstly, it deeply purifies and helps remove inflammation-inducing pollution particles anchored to the skin. Moreover, as an  antioxidant, Kale also boosts antioxidant activity on the skin thanks to its many vitaminic compounds.

Premature Ageing (from fine lines to deep sagging wrinkles)

Best Antioxidants For Skin Concerns: Premature Ageing, Scarring

  • Green Tea extract – Well-known for being one of the most researched natural actives for health, Green Tea (Camellia Sinensis) contains large amounts of phytoactives called Catechins, which are proven to reduce and prevent cell damage. We included this potent extract in our Antioxidant Multi-Tasking Super Balm so you can top up on your antioxidant reservoir during cleansing or overnight masking.
  • Pea Peptide – Also featured in our NEW Antioxidant Peptide Mist, Pea Peptides infuse a very potent antioxidant activity, as well as increase collagen synthesis. This results in a refreshed, firm look.
  • French Algae Extract – The French Kelp extract we use is patented and its antioxidant properties are clinically proven to firm and reduce lines. You can find this ingredient in our Radiance Firming Facial Oil and our Antioxidant Multi-Tasking Super Balm.


  • Vitamin E – The secret to healing a scar and preventing stretch-marks, Vitamin E (Tocopherol) is a precious ally to boost skin elastin. Naturally found in many oils such as Wheatgerm and Argan, you can find plenty of Vitamin E in our Argan Skin Rescue (now available in a 30 ml size) which also contains Vitamin C for a potent rescue treatment.
  • Essential Minerals – Minerals are needed by enzymatic antioxidants naturally present in the skin and needed for all essential processes of repair within the epidermis. You can find a blend of essential Minerals in our Probiotic Multi-Mineral Repair Mask and in our NEW Antioxidant Peptide Mist.

Adult Acne

Best Antioxidants For Skin Concerns: Adult Acne, Dehydration & Sensitivity

  • Beta Carotene – A precursor to Vitamin A (Retinol) is ideal for boosting the skin renewal cycle. Present in Rosehip Oil and a variety of other cold-pressed plant oils, it is especially helpful for acne sufferers and speed up the scar-healing process. Our Radiance Firming Facial Oil will provide a healthy amount of this vitamin.
  • Vitamin C – Skin stress is greatly increased when battling blemishes since skin picking is frequent. In this scenario typically more drying ingredients are used to prevent breakouts. This essential vitamin encourages collagen production and counteracts the effects of oxidative stress and premature ageing that can be triggered in acne-prone skin Vitamin C can be easily incorporated in a lightweight nutritional skincare routine by using our Argan Anti-Ageing Peptide Serum.

Dehydration and Sensitivity

  • Aloe Vera – A well-known panacea for small cuts, grazes and burns / sunburns, Aloe is a nutritional powerhouse providing anti-inflammatory compounds anthraquinones and chromones, as well as strong antioxidants such as Vitamin E, carotenoids, ascorbic acid (Vitamin C), flavonoids and tannins. It supports hydration and calm thanks to unique polysaccharides and doubles up as a potent anti-ager as it was shown to increase collagen synthesis. Aloe Vera is present in all our Serums and it is also used in our NEW Antioxidant Peptide Mist.
  • Bisabolol – Derived from German Chamomile (Matricaria Chamomilla), this compound is clinically proven to soothe and calm redness on the skin thanks to its antioxidant activity. Present in our Relax Range and in all our most skin-calming lines, this ingredient is also featured in our NEW Antioxidant Peptide Mist.