Pamper your face

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Pamper Your Face
Why skin suffers: Free radicals. The antagonists of any skincare story, these unstable molecules—produced by sun, pollution, stress—attack healthy cells and cause inflammation, triggering enzymes to break down collagen and elastin.

The fix: Our heroes—antioxidants. "They're like fire extinguishers for free radicals," says David McDaniel, MD, assistant professor of clinical dermatology and plastic surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School. They wipe out rogue molecules and reduce inflammation. The antioxidant idebenone, a derivative of coenzyme Q10, is regarded as a "star chemical" by some doctors. Like most antioxidants, idebenone is primarily preventive, but in independent testing, McDaniel found it to be reparative as well, since it decreased collagen-degrading enzymes in the body. Another superantioxidant, plant-derived ferulic acid, has been shown to bolster the natural photoprotective effects of topically applied vitamins C and E, says Leslie Baumann, MD, associate professor of clinical dermatology at the University of Miami. Come October, Baumann adds, look for the oral antioxidant Heliocare, which contains a fern extract that protects skin from UVA damage. Green tea also prevents inflammation and photoaging when ingested or applied topically in very high concentrations.