When it comes to understanding what exactly antioxidants are, trichologist Gretchen Friese puts it simply. Antioxidants are substances that work to neutralize the harmful effects of the oxidation caused by free radicals in the body and/or on the hair. They help to prevent the formation of oxidative stress.
TYPE OF INGREDIENT: Protectors and neutralizers
MAIN BENEFITS: Protect hair from UV and sun damage, help promote hair growth, increase blood circulation in the scalp, can help tame frizz, and fight free radicals
WHO SHOULD USE IT: Generally, all hair can benefit from antioxidants. However, those with damaged hair will often profit from the use of antioxidants the most.
HOW OFTEN CAN YOU USE IT: Typically, antioxidants can be used daily when found in routine-use products such as shampoo and conditioner. When used as a mask, antioxidant products can be used one to three times per week according to Camp.
WORKS WELL WITH: Antioxidants work well with one another. Often, you'll find more than one antioxidant ingredient in your products., i.e. vitamins A, C, and E.
DON’T USE WITH: Generally, antioxidants can be used with most ingredients.
Benefits of Antioxidants for Hair
Experts agree that the benefits of antioxidants for hair run deep (into the scalp). Given that antioxidants boost both skin and hair health, their benefits can be seen from root to tip. There are many reasons consumers should be using antioxidants in their hair care routines
Most importantly, they are a key ingredient in having healthy hair follicles which leads to stronger and thicker hair. Similar to how antioxidants in our diet boost our immune system, using antioxidant-rich hair care products helps to boost the circulation in our hair follicles and feed our scalp nutrients so that the follicles don’t weaken over time, promoting healthy hair growth.
Improve hair growth: The experts all note that antioxidants can help improve hair growth by boosting blood circulation and nutrient supply to the scalp, which in return encourages hair growth. In a 2021 study conducted by the Society of Cosmetic Scientists, results showed that when adding antioxidants to shampoo and conditioner, a group of subjects with thinning hair saw less shedding and more fullness, concluding that antioxidants were in fact successful in helping hair growth and retention.
Protect hair follicles: Antioxidants are protective ingredients. They neutralize free oxygen radicals, which are unstable oxygen molecules that develop as a result of the body’s normal metabolism, and exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation and environmental pollution. Free radicals can damage cellular structures such as DNA, lipids, and proteins.
Help reduce frizz: The effects of free radicals as mentioned can also translate to dry, frizzy, brittle hair. Antioxidants help prevent these issues.
Help prevent premature gray hair: Antioxidants prevent the breakdown of melanin in the cortex of the hair strand which helps improve color retention and the integrity of hair. Which means strong and healthy hair with possibly less graying. Relieve dandruff: Antioxidants can help with a variety of conditions including dandruff. Salicylic acid specifically works to dissolve dandruff and relieve the scalp.