Pycnogenol, an antioxidant derived from the bark of pine trees, is reputed to help protect skin cells from the damage of UV rays as well as support collagen and elastin production in the skin. Vitamin E, both used internally and topically, is believed to help heal damaged skin. With this knowledge in hand, researchers have now begun exploring other antioxidants for their skin care benefits.
At the University of Catania in Italy, researchers tested the effectiveness of antioxidant-rich lemon oil in preventing oxidative (free radical) damage to the skin. The researchers isolated a natural compound from the lemon oil that proved to have powerful antioxidant properties. In various tests, it was shown to significantly increase the natural “anti-aging” power of the skin.
At the Beeson Aesthetic Surgery Institute in the US, researchers investigated the application of another topical antioxidant—ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The researchers designed a three-month study at a facial plastic surgery clinic. The study used 19 volunteers between the ages 36 and 72 who were healthy but showed moderately damaged skin. Over the three-month period, each volunteer had medication applied to the face: the right side with the topical vitamin C, and the left side with a placebo cream. At the end of the study, the participants using the vitamin C cream reported an improvement in skin on the right side of the face that was 84.2% greater than the control cream. Clinical assessment also showed significant improvement in fine wrinkling, tactile roughness, skin tone and sallowness.
Many natural health product stores offer a broad selection of natural creams containing protective antioxidants such as vitamin C, pycnogenol, vitamin E and others.
Sources: Drugs Exp Clin Res 1999;25(6):281-7; Arch Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg 1999 Oct; 125(10):1091-8; The Super Antioxidants by J Balch, MD, Evans:1998