Antioxidants make up half of the most effective anti-aging ingredients. They help fight signs of aging, soften the look of lines, and reduce hyperpigmentation. On top of that, antioxidant moisturizers offer the benefits of an anti-aging cream with the convenience of a smoothing, softening moisturizer. Plus, the best antioxidant moisturizers are pretty low maintenance. And they’re more skin-friendly than, say, a retinol cream.
There’s an array of antioxidants formulated into moisturizers. Some of them are vitamin derivatives like vitamin C and vitamin E. And some of them are polyphenolic antioxidants (plant-derived) like green tea, ferulic acid, and resveratrol.
But let’s get one thing out of the way first; the deal with antioxidants and free radicals. This helps better understand how antioxidants benefit your skin. If you don’t need any schooling, feel free to skip this part.
Technically speaking, antioxidants reverse the detrimental effects of free radicals caused by oxidative stress. And the major cause of oxidative stress is UV exposure followed by smoking. Confusing? No worries.
I’m a visual person. If you’re like me, here’s an illustration of how free radicals work. This is such an embarrassing oversimplification that it’s basically an insult to an array of scientific departments. So don’t tell anyone. The analogy isn’t perfect. But bear with me.
Imagine a weird society with weird morals made up of couples living in houses next to one another. Inside one of the houses lives a happily married couple. One day, a singleton comes out of nowhere and steals the neighboring wife/husband. Not being able to stay alone, the person who was left alone steals the partner of their neighbor. Every single partner that’s left alone ruins the neighboring marriage. This goes on and on until the society “collapses”.
The first singleton would be oxidative stress. The first person who was left alone was our first free radical, which kept creating more free radicals.
The collapse would translate to damage to your skin in the form of wrinkles, dehydration, hyperpigmentation, and so much more.
And in this scenario, antioxidants would be the savers who chased down the cheater and brought them back, keeping the fabric of the society intact.
How to Choose an Antioxidant Moisturizer
To find the best antioxidant moisturizer for your skin type, keep your skin goals and skin type in mind. The rule of “oil-free for oily skin” still applies.
Each antioxidant has a unique benefit. Vitamin C, for example, increases radiance whereas vitamin E increases moisture.
With that in mind, someone with a lot of sun damage would benefit from a combination of antioxidants including vitamin C to boost collagen production.
Similarly, for sensitive skin types, an antioxidant moisturizer would mean something that’s packed with anti-inflammatory antioxidants like green tea, oatmeal, or licorice extract.
Find below the best antioxidant moisturizers.
Best For Sensitive Skin: Amorepacific Time Response Skin Reserve Creme
We’re familiar with the soothing and anti-inflammatory benefits of green tea. But green tea is a potent antioxidant itself due to a certain compound it contains; epigallocatechin gallate (EGCG). Because it’s majorly anti-aging and equally soothing, this green tea antioxidant moisturizer is great for people with sensitive skin.
It protects the skin against free radicals while reducing inflammation, irritation, and redness. The Korean moisturizer delivers antioxidants with a replenishing emollient base made with shea butter and sunflower seed oil. It also has barrier-restoring vitamin B3 (niacinamide), energizing caffeine, and antioxidant-rich ginseng.
Best For Oily Skin: Boscia Green Tea Oil-Free Moisturizer
Because it’s anti-inflammatory, green tea is great for people with oily and acne-prone skin as well. Green tea keeps excess oil in check and helps with acne-induced redness. This one is conveniently formulated without oil. So it won’t clog pores or aggravate acne.
The cream is super lightweight and hydrates with hyaluronic acid and algae. It’s also enriched with anti-inflammatory burdock root. You can get your daily dose of antioxidants while calming and soothing the skin.
Best For Hyperpigmentation: Ole Henriksen C-Rush Vitamin C Gel Moisturizer
Did you know that applying topical vitamin C works better for your skin than taking it orally (1)? With vitamin C, the possibilities are endless. The pure and the most potent form of it, ascorbic acid, neutralizes free radicals, reduces redness, stimulates collagen production, and fades dark spots.
Because of its unstable nature, pure vitamin C is hard to come by in moisturizers. This vitamin C cream contains three forms of it, including ascorbic acid, for maximum effects. It brightens the skin, soothes with panthenol, and hydrates with hyaluronic acid. The gel form absorbs easily and leaves the skin looking radiant, making it an amazing antioxidant moisturizer for reducing hyperpigmentation and acne marks.
Best For Dry Skin: The Body Shop Vitamin E Intense Moisturizer
As a fat-soluble antioxidant, vitamin E is usually found in face oils. When formulated into creams, vitamin E makes the best antioxidant moisturizer for dry skin. Besides being a potent protector, vitamin E soothes irritation and boosts moisture.
This one delivers vitamin E into the skin while moisturizing with shea butter, olive oil, and nutrient-rich grapeseed oil. It hydrates with hyaluronic acid and also calms the skin with vitamin B5 (panthenol). The moisturizer replenishes dry skin and leaves it soft and smooth.
Best with SPF: Paula’s Choice Super-Light Wrinkle Defense SPF 30
Sunscreen is the ultimate anti-ager. And combining your sunscreen with a potent antioxidant blend simply enhances your protection against premature aging. This all-in-one cream brings mineral sunscreen and antioxidants together in the form of a tinted moisturizer.
It contains vitamin C, vitamin E, EGCG, and resveratrol to arm the skin against free radicals. It treats and prevents sun damage. Using an antioxidant moisturizer with SPF reduces your chances of forgetting to put on sunscreen. And it saves you the trouble of layering products too.
Best Affordable: The Inkey List Vitamin B, C, and E Moisturizer
This is one of the most affordable antioxidant moisturizers. Only $5.99! The vitamin-infused formula includes vitamins C and E for their anti-aging benefits. And just a heads up, these two are usually labeled as “synergistic antioxidants”.
They work better when paired together. Because vitamin C regenerates vitamin E and extends your free radical protection (2). Vitamin B3 helps the skin retain moisture while vitamin B5 soothes the skin. The gel-like formula disappears into the skin and leaves it supple and bouncy.
Best For Eyes: Drunk Elephant C-Tango Vitamin C Eye Cream
This one is an amazing antioxidant fest great for the tricky eye area. Five forms of vitamin C target wrinkles and dark circles around the eye area. The vitamin C eye cream plumps the thin skin and softens fine lines with a powerful bunch made with ceramides, cucumber, hyaluronic acid, and aloe.
Plus, it contains Argireline, which is a neuropeptide that limits muscle contraction and smooths out wrinkles. The vegan eye cream is also fragrance-free and perfect for caring for the under-eyes without the need for heavy actives.
Best For Night: Estee Lauder NightWear Plus Anti-Oxidant Night Detox Creme
For irritation-free, night-long skincare, a night moisturizer jam-packed with antioxidants can help undo some of the day’s damage. This one is made with a variety of antioxidants to reverse UV damage. It has vitamins C and E to maximize the anti-aging benefits and boost collagen production.
And it contains a rich blend of humectants like hyaluronic acid, sodium PCA, squalane, and algae. The cream bathes the skin in moisture while infusing it with wrinkle-fighting antioxidants. The formula is non-comedogenic, so any skin type can use it to wake up to healthier skin.
Best For Combination Skin: Youth To The People Superfood Air-Whip Moisturizer
To replenish combination skin without causing congestion on the oily parts, this antioxidant moisturizer is made with a non-comedogenic base from sunflower seed oil. And it’s full to the brim with antioxidants like vitamins C, E, and green tea.
But it also contains extracts from leafy greens, which are readily rich in antioxidants too. And to make sure that the oily parts are hydrated, the cream has hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and panthenol. It’s incredibly light and does not leave the skin greasy.
Best Organic: Juice Beauty Antioxidant Moisturizer
This one is formulated with amazing oils -all packed with fatty acids that help restore the skin barrier. It binds water to the skin with hyaluronic acid and soothes the skin with aloe.
Nourishing avocado, safflower seed, jojoba, and almond oils lock in moisture and keep the outer skin layer soft. The moisturizer layers the skin with antioxidant vitamins C and E to keep wrinkles, and dark spots at bay.
This concludes our recommendations for the best antioxidant moisturizers. One thing to keep in mind is the conflict of ingredients. The majority of antioxidants work very well with other actives. But vitamin C is a little bit tricky. It tends to get irritating when combined with retinol or exfoliating acids. This is not the case with all vitamin C products. You may be fine with applying a vitamin C cream on top of an exfoliating toner. But it’s still something to keep in mind. If there’s some sort of irritation or breakout, at least you know what the problem is.
Read Next: The Best Antioxidant Serums
- Baran, R., & Maibach, H. (2017). 24. Photodamage: protection and reversal with topical antioxidants: Vitamin C [E-book]. In Textbook of Cosmetic Dermatology (Series in Cosmetic and Laser Therapy) (5th ed., pp. 199–200). CRC Press. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781315160504
- Niki E. (1987). Interaction of ascorbate and alpha-tocopherol. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 498, 186–199. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1749-6632.1987.tb23761.x