When it comes to protecting the youth of your skin and the overall health of your body, antioxidants are key. One antioxidant in particular — astaxanthin — is proving to have some special anti-aging benefits for skin and body.
This superpowered antioxidant boosts your health from the inside out and can be used topically to “feed” your skin. In fact, the importance of antioxidants for skincare is finally being realized, and they are being included in more high quality products.
Here’s more about what makes this natural compound special and the many benefits it has.
What Is Astaxanthin?
Astaxanthin is a specific type of antioxidant known as a carotenoid. Other carotenoids you may be familiar with include lycopene, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein.
Along with being antioxidants, carotenoids are also the red, yellow, or orange pigments that give certain plants and algae their coloring. For example, lycopene gives the red to tomatoes and beta-carotene the orange to carrots.
Consuming carotenoids, in general, is excellent for your health. They have many known health benefits, especially boosting eye health and potentially reducing the risk of certain cancers.
Astaxanthin, however, is in a class all of its own.
Rather than being found in plant life, astaxanthin is present in certain types of red algae and gives the red or pink coloring to sea animals like salmon, lobster, and shrimp. It’s also found in a few specific types of yeast.
When compared with other carotenoids like lutein and beta-carotene, astaxanthin has shown the strongest antioxidants properties and a better ability to protect against oxidative stress. It’s also proven to be over 500 times more effective than the antioxidant vitamin E and as much as 6000 times stronger than vitamin C.
That’s pretty incredible and is especially good news for your skin!
The Importance of Antioxidants for Your Skin
To understand why astaxanthin has so many benefits for your skin (and the rest of your body), it’s important to look at the role free radicals play in the aging process.
Free radicals and oxidative stress are two terms many people have heard of by now, but not necessarily in connection with skin health. However, if you aren’t combating their effects, your skin will look old prematurely, developing wrinkles, lines, etc.
To start with the basics, free radicals are essentially molecules with an unpaired electron. They form in your body as the result of both natural processes (like exercise) and external factors (like radiation and exposure to toxins).
Because they have an unpaired electron, free radicals are very unstable and react destructively with other molecules, including lipids and proteins that are integral to the health and structure of your skin. They also contribute to the breakdown of collagen and elastin, the two most important anti-aging proteins in your skin.
This is where antioxidants come in with some much needed help.
They are able to donate an electron to free radicals, effectively neutralizing them. And if they are present in great enough numbers on your skin, the damage free radicals cause will be minimal.
But if your body and skin are depleted of antioxidants, free radicals will start causing damage known as oxidative stress. It affects molecules, cells, and tissues in your body and accelerates skin aging, among other harmful effects.
As you can see, antioxidants are critical for maintaining youthful-looking skin- and astaxanthin has some special superpowers in this area.
6 Specific Benefits of Astaxanthin for Skin
Combats Oxidative Stress
Antioxidants work in your body in different ways. Not all of them are effective at fighting free radicals specifically in your skin, though they may be potent in other areas of your body.
Astaxanthin, however, has been shown in lab studies to combat oxidative stress in skin cells. This is incredibly important for slowing the aging process in your skin (as we just discussed) and protecting your skin from further damage.
In fact, the research so far on astaxanthin as a skin antioxidant is very fascinating.
Not only does it work directly by scavenging free radicals, it also appears to activate something called the “cellular antioxidant defense system.” This means that its presence upregulates antioxidant enzymes within your body, including glutathione peroxidase and superoxide dismutase.
This makes astaxanthin a super powerful antioxidant for protecting your skin from free radicals.
Has Anti-Inflammatory Properties
Along with being a powerful antioxidant, astaxanthin also has anti-inflammatory properties. This means it could help to calm both skin sensitivity and redness. So far, it does indeed seem to be very beneficial for those with sensitive skin.
Researchers also believe that astaxanthin could prove very helpful for those with inflammatory skin issues like atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. They see it as part of a new anti-inflammatory drug for skin conditions, although those who prefer a more natural approach may want to try it as a supplement or in a plant-based cream.
Reduces the Appearance of Wrinkles & Age Spots
Wrinkles are often one of the first signs of aging to appear on skin. They form for a variety of reasons but most notably because of the breakdown of collagen and elastin accelerated by free radical damage. Age spots (or sun spots) also appear because of damage to your skin over the years and do not fade easily.
Fortunately for your skin, studies have shown that one of the benefits of astaxanthin is to help reverse the look of several signs of aging, including wrinkles and age spots. It was found to do this after about 8 weeks of use.
Notably, at least one of the studies used a combination of oral and topical astaxanthin. This could mean that consuming it both ways will give your skin the greatest boost.
Helps Improve Skin Texture & Hydration
One of the same studies that looked at astaxanthin and wrinkles also found that it could improve skin texture. Benefits were mainly seen for skin roughness and elasticity, which is great because keeping your skin elastic is also key to preventing signs of aging in the future.
Also, even though astaxanthin isn’t a moisturizer itself, it does have an ability to improve the overall hydration of your skin.
Specifically, it was able to improve transepidermal water loss (TEWL), which refers to water passing through the epidermis (outer layer) of you skin and evaporating. If TEWL gets out of balance, your skin can start drying out and will likely show signs of age more easily.
By improving TEWL, astaxanthin not only helps your skin stay moisturized, it also has even more of an anti-aging effect.
Has Strong Photoprotective Properties
In other research, astaxanthin has shown strong photoprotective properties for your skin. This is a fancy way of saying that it can help protect your skin from the damaging effects of UV radiation.
While sunlight is very good for our bodies and needed for the production of vitamin D, too much of it hitting your skin causes something known as photodamage. Photodamage simply refers to skin changes and signs of aging that result from prolonged exposure to the sun. This includes wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, roughness, and more.
By offering your skin powerful protection against UV damage, astaxanthin can actually help prevent more signs of aging from forming. It also goes deeper than just the appearance of your skin, helping to prevent deterioration as well.
Just a few more benefits of astaxanthin that make it one of the best anti-aging antioxidants we know of!
Counteracts DNA Damage
Another reason UV damage can be so harmful for your skin is because it affects DNA. Overexposure to UV radiation can alter the structure of DNA and damage it, both of which play a role in the development of skin cancer.
Research has shown that astaxanthin can counteract these effects in a few ways.
First, it can inhibit UV-induced DNA damage, helping to prevent it from occurring at all. Astaxanthin can also “improve the DNA repair capacity of cells exposed to UV radiation.” This means it can actually help your skin to recover from UV damage at a cellular level.
All of this may give astaxanthin an ability to help protect against skin cancer, but more research still needs to be done in this area.
Other Health Benefits of Astaxanthin
Decreases Inflammation and Oxidative Stress
Astaxanthin can reduce the effects of oxidative stress within your body as well as in your skin. This is especially beneficial for one particular area of health: inflammation.
Chronic inflammation has become something of an epidemic and is believed to increase your risk of many chronic diseases. Oxidative stress is one specific cause of inflammation within the body, something astaxanthin can help with.
In fact, one study showed that supplementing with astaxanthin reduced markers of both inflammation and oxidative damage in the body.
Boosts Immune Response
Many antioxidants are beneficial for your immune system, and astaxanthin is no exception. Research has found that it can enhance immune response and heighten the activity of natural killer cells. Natural killer cells are a key component of your immune system, since they are active against tumors and virus-infected cells.
This gives astaxanthin potential against infection and possibly even cancer, though more studies still need to be done.
May Protect Against Osteoarthritis
Osteoarthritis is a disease characterized by cartilage degradation. It’s a progressive disease, which means it continues to worsen as cartilage deteriorates, and can cause pain, stiffness, and inflammation.
One study found that astaxanthin could potentially protect against osteoarthritis by maintaining cartilage homeostasis. It also inhibited inflammation and oxidative stress, which are btoh contributing factors to arthritis development.
The anti-inflammatory properties of astaxanthin may also make it able to improve existing symptoms of osteoarthritis. Research in this area is currently underway.
Protective of Brain & Heart Health
Other notable benefits of astaxanthin include protective properties for both your brain and heart.
Oxidative stress takes its toll on your brain as well as the rest of your body. By combating this, astaxanthin has demonstrated neuroprotective properties that may help to prevent age-related cognitive decline and neurodegenerative diseases. Animal studies also show that it can increase the formation of new brain cells.
Another exciting study found that astaxanthin supplementation led to significant improvement in cognitive function is participants with mild impairment.
As far as your heart goes, astaxanthin has shown an ability to lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels and raise HDL (good) cholesterol levels. It can also improve sugar metabolism and has shown a potential ability to protect against atherosclerosis. All excellent news for heart health!
Supports Eye Health
Like other carotenoids, astaxanthin can help to keep your vision functioning as it should. Along with all its other antioxidant effects, astaxanthin has been shown to protect retinal cells against oxidative stress, something very important for eye health.
Taking it with other carotenoids, like lutein, can be even more beneficial for protecting your sight.
May Switch on the ‘Longevity Gene’
All humans have a gene known as the FOXO3 gene that protects against aging. About 33% of people have a specific version of it that is associated with increased longevity. Some researchers believe that deliberately “activating” the FOXO3 gene will make it act like the longevity version in everyone.
This is important because animal studies have found that astaxanthin can increase the activation of the FOXO3 gene by nearly 90%. Results still need to be confirmed in humans, but this could be a huge anti-aging breakthrough!
Using Astaxanthin for Skin Benefits
To get the skin-boosting benefits of astaxanthin, you can use it internally, topically, or both.
If you’re interested in using it as a supplement, look for one that is derived from Haematococcus pluvialis algae. This is widely considered to be the best natural source of astaxanthin. Also, be sure to avoid synthetic astaxanthin, which is at least 20 times less effective than the natural version and is questionable at best for use by humans.
Topical use is also very effective and delivers astaxanthin straight to your skin.
Look for organic skincare products that combine astaxanthin with other natural plant extracts. More antioxidant ingredients, particularly ones packed with vitamin C, and quality moisturizers to keep your skin hydrated are especially beneficial. Apply daily for 8-12 weeks before expecting to see results.
Feed Your Skin Astaxanthin with the Age-Defying Dream Cream
If you want to get the powerful anti-aging effects of astaxanthin for your skin, look into the Age-Defying Dream Cream from Purity Woods. It combines astaxanthin sourced from organic red algae with vitamin C packed ingredients like camu camu and Indian gooseberry.
The Dream Cream also has some of nature’s best and most effective moisturizers and over 25 premium, plant-based extracts in total.
It’s also 100% USDA Certified Organic (which means zero chemicals or GMOs), excellent for all skin types, and quickly goes to work reversing the appearance of wrinkles, crow’s feet, age spots, sagging skin, etc.
Head here to learn more about the Age-Defying Dream Cream and start your journey to more youthful-looking skin!