Ask Jean: Best Antioxidant for Skin?

Ask Jean

We want to answer your most pressing questions—or, you know, just the things that you’re curious about. Please keep them coming to: [email protected] Below, a q for our beauty director, Jean Godfrey-June.

Dear Jean, I know antioxidants are great for my skin, but every cream or serum seems to have different antioxidants in it. What do I need to know?—Zoe W.

Dear Zoe, From red wine to green tea, from rosehips to arctic succulents, the variety of antioxidants that can be eaten, drunk, or extracted and used in skincare is mind-boggling. They’re good for health and for skin because they help protect against free radicals, which, in a famous example, do the same thing to us that they do to a sliced apple: They oxidize it, turning it brown, and sending it more quickly to…its eventual disintegration, otherwise known as ripe old age.

The sliced-apple example has always resonated with people, but for some reason, until now, nobody was like, so what is it that keeps an apple from turning brown? Apple peels! Apple peels not only keep apples from turning brown, they keep them fresh and young looking (and tasting) for longer than practically any other fruit.

I’m a huge believer in vitamin C—it’s the most-studied antioxidant, particularly for skin, and it clearly works on all sorts of levels to improve many aspects of skin and overall health. I love a green tea, a pomegranate, a what-have-you, but C is what I trust and use every day. I particularly love the vitamin C powder from True Botanicals because when you mix vitamin C into a cosmetic formula, it starts to oxidize the second you open it, so most vitamin C skin treatments, even those with a truckload of preservatives, get less and less potent with each use. The powder—you can mix it with plain old water, a serum, a moisturizer, even an SPF—is always full potency when you apply it.

The powder is so fantastic, and makes so much sense, that (for once), I was intrigued by a new antioxidant—also a powder, also from True Botanicals—made from, you guessed it, whole apple peels. The research on whole apple peels’ antioxidant power shows it’s full of phenolic compounds, potent antioxidants, polyphenols, and more, all of which help to fight free radicals and keep us (and apples) healthy.

I love the C in the morning, so I started doing the apple peel at night, sometimes mixed with True Botanicals’ Renew serum, other times mixed simply with water. My skin—I feel—is so far firmer, brighter, smoother and healthier. Do you need more than one antioxidant? Hillary Petersen, founder of True Botanicals, convinced me as she gestured at the avocado toast with lemons and radishes we were tucking into: “Any nutritionist will tell you to eat a variety of antioxidant foods,” she said. “Why not do the same for skin?”

Skincare always involves some level of hope in a jar, but this hope has more going for it than most: Antioxidants benefit our skin; a powder is a great way to make sure they remain active in skincare; certainly when consuming antioxidants, variety is a huge benefit; and apple peels look to be powerful antioxidant-wise. And my skin looks and feels amazing. Which powder is superior? It’s sort of like comparing—well, apples and oranges.