The Best Antioxidants for Skin to Combat the Climate

Use the best antioxidants for skin and your skincare routine can work with the opposing climate

Antioxidants are like first responders when the climate starts to take a turn for the worst. These ingredients, usually vitamins and botanicals, are first in line to disarm any environmental threats (both man-made and natural) before they turn into full blown skin damage. Exactly what kind of threats are we talking here? Free radicals, unstable molecules unleashed by the harsh climate and environment (sun, pollution, etc.) that bind to skin’s DNA cells and cause trouble: wrinkles, spots, acne and even skin cancer. The best antioxidants for skin take one for the team, binding to the free radicals instead. Your skin cells stay healthy and your complexion remains glowing and youthful.

So, which are the best antioxidants for skin that you should be slathering on when the climate’s aggressors start to wreak havoc on your complexion? There are a number of effective ones that can take down free radicals quickly, but to get even more specific, we asked dermatologists to tell us which antioxidants are the best for the climate you live in. It turns out, many are multitaskers and have benefits that go beyond fighting free radicals. Some can fade brown spots, while others can soothe red, cranky skin— issues that can be exacerbated by climate. Here, your customized antioxidant plan.

Your climate: Tropical

Your best antioxidants for skin: vitamin C, niacinamide

These potent antioxidants are hydrophilic, which means they’re water soluble and feel lightweight on the skin, ideal if you live in a hot, sticky, and humid locale. “Vitamin C doesn’t feel heavy on the skin and won’t make you break out,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City. Both antioxidants also inhibit a key enzyme that plays a role in pigment production. When applied topically, they can help prevent and fade brown spots from the sun—something you get a lot of in a tropical climate. Find vitamin C in Tropical Day Cream.

Your climate: Desert

Your best antioxidants for skin: vitamin E and beta-carotene (vitamin A)

You live with high temps and low humidity, a.k.a. dry heat, and probably spend a lot of time in skin-drying air conditioning. Zeichner says this is where lipophilic antioxidants come into play, fat soluble ingredients that have an oily, moisturizing feel on skin. “In a dry environment, I recommend a vitamin-E containing antioxidant, as it will provide skin barrier repair benefits to the skin in addition to its antioxidant properties,” says Zeichner. Vitamin E is also moisturizing, so it will help hydrate parched skin. Get vitamin E in Desert Day Cream. Beta-carotene is another fat-soluble antioxidant. It converts to vitamin A, which is known to be effective in repair and prevention of sun damage, says Avnee Shah, M.D., a dermatologist in New York City.

Your climate: Polar

Your best antioxidants for skin: Oats, white truffle, green tea

Extreme, cold temperatures coupled with dry air (especially from all that indoor heat) leaves skin dry and irritated. Plus, pollution tends to be worse in cold environments. There’s more gas emissions from firewood, ovens, and warming up your car. All these factors can weaken skin’s barrier, its outermost layer. Your goal is to not only ward off free radicals which will further damage your fragile skin, but to strengthen skin’s barrier to prevent irritants from getting in and keep moisture levels high. Oats deliver on both fronts. Oats are rich in antioxidants. They also have anti-inflammatory benefits to soothe skin, while strengthening skin’s barrier. Find them in Polar Day Cream, which also contains white truffle, an antioxidant-rich mushroom that also hydrates dry skin. Shah says green tea is also a top performer in colder temps. The strong antioxidant is anti-inflammatory, so it will calm those rosy, wind-blown cheeks.

Your climate: Temperate

Your best antioxidants for skin: Seaweed extract, vitamins C and E

With mild temps and normal humidity, the goal is to keep your skin healthy and happy. Seaweed extract is a potent antioxidant to disarm free radicals from UV light and pollution, and also soothes and conditions skin. Tried-and-trusted vitamins C and E are also ideal. Studies show when paired together, the antioxidants work more effectively. Find them in Temperate Day Cream.

Krista Bennett DeMaio
About the Author: The daughter of a hairdresser, Krista Bennett DeMaio likes to say she has beauty in her blood. She has well over a decade of beauty editorial experience. The former magazine-editor-turned-freelance writer has covered all things beauty from anti-aging skincare to NYFW runway trends. Her work has appeared in national publications and websites including Women's Health, Redbook, Shape, bhg.com, makeup.com, and prevention.com.