ANTIOXIDANTS: your first-line defense against summer's ruin ..

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As powerful antioxidants, polyphenols are not just good at strengthening weak blood capillaries: they are impressive free radical scavengers too – able to neutralise the reactive molecules within skin which are triggered by foes like UV light and which age it by weakening the collagen and elastin fibres that keep skin supple, springy and youthful. This is why antioxidants form the bedrock of modern skincare – you may have noticed how they play an increasing role as topical ingredients and oral supplements. One of the biggest bonuses of antioxidants, I think, is the way they can ramp-up a topical cream’s energy and performance without altering its texture – most pertinent in winter. In the past, fortifying skin against the depleting effects of the cold and central heating meant using super-hydrators as rich as butter – not ideal for all skins. Now dermatologists say it is better to up your antioxidant quota topically and orally because this makes the most difference to the strength, texture and health of your skin at this time. Along with sunscreen, antioxidants are part of your skin’s first-line defense against the sun's ruin; take them as:

* oral supplements: antioxidants work best when combined, so take a supplement which includes antioxidant vitamins B, C and E, and naturally-occurring antioxidants like selenium throughout the winter months.

* topical fortifiers: antioxidant creams make excellent seasonal thirst-quenchers for skin, helping to retain moisture otherwise sapped by temperature extremes.

* dietary boosters: the most potent antioxidant foods are berries (including seasonal sloes), red grapes, broccoli, garlic, tomatoes, spinach, carrots and dark chocolate. Enjoy them in abundance.