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The Best Antioxidant Skin Serums

By Nicole Whitney ; Updated July 18, 2017

What to Look For

Look for antioxidant serums that contain vitamins A, C and E. The antioxidants retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate and retinol (all forms of vitamin A) prevent and repair damaged skin. Vitamin C destroys free radicals before they reach the cell membrane. L-ascorbic acid is vitamin C in its pure form. Other forms include ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate and ascorbyl palmitate. Sensitive skin responds well to magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a less irritating form of vitamin C. The antioxidant vitamin E protects the skin from destructive UV rays. Look for tocopheryl nicotinate and tocopheryl linoleate, two forms of vitamin E. Other key antioxidant ingredients include selenium, superoxide dismutase and alpha-lipoic acid.

Common Pitfalls

Do not select products with a single antioxidant product. Skin Inc. magazine says the best products contain a group of antioxidants. Do not jump on the latest craze. Instead, opt for products with antioxidants such as pomegranate, coffee berry, lycopene, grape extracts and idebenone. They have held up to the test of time and clinical research.

Where to Buy

Drugstores, cosmetics stores, day spas, skin care centers and physicians (dermatologist and facial plastic surgeons) offer effective antioxidant serums. Typically, items purchased from physicians’ offices contain the highest concentration of antioxidant ingredients. Skin care centers and spas that operate under direction of a medical director (medi-spas) offer products similar to those offered by physicians. DermStore offers tens of different antioxidant serums. Some serums found in drugstores receive rave reviews by beauty experts. Paula Begoun, author of the book “Don’t Go to the Cosmetics Store Without Me”, names Olay Regenerist Daily Regenerating Serum one of the best antioxidants for all skin types.


The costs of antioxidant serums range from relatively inexpensive to what some might consider pricey. Olay’s Regenerist Serum cost $18.99 for a 1.7-oz. bottle at Target. A one-oz. bottle of John Masters Organics Green Tea and Rose Hydrating Face serum costs $26. The Skin Medical TNS Essential Serum runs $250 for one oz.

Insider Tips

Air and light causes instability of certain antioxidants. Look for products in dark bottles. If the bottle has a pump, it will keep the air out. Keep your antioxidant serum in a dark place. Dr. Neal Schultz recommends that you only apply antioxidants at night. At night, it can penetrate the cell without being destroyed by sunlight. During the day, you should apply sunscreen.

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