Beauty

Polyphenols and Skincare: Benefits and Sources

It can be really challenging to determine what the best ingredients for your skin are. Skin is so complex, and varies by many factors: the season, hormones, and your age all play a significant role in your skin condition and the best options for you. This article explores polyphenols and skincare, and why they’re so effective!

For the last year or so I’ve been really dedicated to my skincare routine. With the recent quarantine, I’ve given my skin a break (makeup free for 3 months now!) and it’s had time to breathe and rebalance. I’ve known about antioxidants for a while, but I was interested in exactly why they work and what the best sources are.

What are Polyphenols?

Polyphenols are plant-based micronutrients with antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties.

There are 4 main types of polyphenols:

Flavonoids: These make up the majority of polyphenols. They can be found in foods like cabbage, onions and apples.

Phenolic acids: This group is found in fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

Polyphenolic amides: This includes capsaicin found in chili peppers and avenanthramides in oats.

Non-flavonoids: These are assorted polyphenols can be found in a wide variety of sources such as wine, flaxseed and turmeric.

What are their benefits?

Foods high in polyphenols help support overall cell health. They neutralize free-radicals that can damage your cells and increase the risk of cancer and other skin conditions. It is also believed that they help to reduce inflammation.

Applying antioxidants to your skin supports the body’s own antioxidant system against stress and UV rays.

Any downsides?

There are very few associated downsides associated with polyphenols. The risks tend to be associated with supplements that have a highly concentrated dose of polyphenols. So feel free to eat blueberries to your heart’s content!

Bowl of blueberries. 
Polyphenols and Skincare: Benefits and Sources

Where can I find them?

It’s not too difficult to find polyphenols. In fact, you probably already get them! It’s super easy to incorporate them into your diet

Tea: One of the best sources is tea: the highest levels are found in green tea, but black, oolong, and white tea are also great sources.

Grapes: Grapes are also an excellent source: darker ones have higher antioxidant levels than paler ones because the content of anthocyanins and flavonoids increases with increasing colour intensity of grapes

Berries: Berries are a great source of antioxidants, especially blueberries, strawberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Tropical fruits: Pineapple, pomegranate and passionfruit are all excellent sources of antioxidants.

Dark chocolate and cocoa powder: Not only do these make a sweet treat, they also contain high levels of polyphenols that support great skin

Polyphenols and skincare products

To be effective, polyphenols must be able to penetrate the epidermis and dermis. Emulsions are the best way to do this. The combination of oil and water allows the polyphenols to be effectively absorbed by the skin. Many products with fruit-based extracts will include polyphenols, and you can maximize their benefits by adding a sunscreen with at least SPF 30. Glossier’s Super Duo is very popular, and the Ordinary’s Pycnogenol 5% is super affordable!

Next time you’re looking for skincare, be sure to check the ingredient label to see if there are any polyphenols. And if you eat a diet high in antioxidants, your skin will glow from within!

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