What is oxidative stress?

Oxidative stress occurs when free radicals – unstable molecules that contain an unpaired electron – become prevalent in the body and especially in the skin. This excess of free radicals reacts aggressively with other molecules in the skin, such as proteins, lipids or DNA, and can cause significant damage. Possible damage includes an accelerated ageing process of the skin, visible signs of ageing such as wrinkles and pigmentation spots or a loss of elasticity.

To ensure the quality and effectiveness of cosmetic products, it is therefore crucial to measurably minimise oxidative stress in the skin and take suitable stabilisation measures. This requires a thorough understanding of the underlying mechanisms of oxidative stress and the specific requirements of individual ingredients and products.


Causes of oxidative stress

There are many causes from internal processes in the human body to environmental factors that cause oxidative stress in the skin. The most common influences include:

– UV radiation: overexposure to the sun is one of the main causes of oxidative stress in the skin. UV rays can generate free radicals and overwhelm the skin’s antioxidant defence mechanism.

– Pollution: Pollutants in the air, such as particulate matter and exhaust fumes, can also cause oxidative stress and damage the skin.

– Smoking: Tobacco smoke contains a variety of chemical compounds that can trigger oxidative stress and therefore accelerate skin ageing.

– Diet and lifestyle: An unbalanced diet, alcohol consumption and stress can also lead to an increase in free radicals and cause oxidative stress.

Antioxidants are used to protect our skin from radicals. They can neutralise free radicals and prevent damage to cell structures.


Challenges for cosmetic formulations

The development of effective cosmetic formulations to combat oxidative stress in the skin poses a number of challenges:

– Stability of active ingredients: Antioxidant actives that can fight free radicals need to be stable in the formulation to ensure their effectiveness.

– Penetration into the skin: Many antioxidants have difficulty penetrating into the deeper layers of the skin where oxidative stress causes the most damage. The formulation must therefore ensure that the active ingredients can penetrate the skin effectively.

– Synergies between active ingredients: The combination of different antioxidants can create synergistic effects and increase the effectiveness of the formulation. However, the selection and combination of these active ingredients requires careful research and development.

– Long-term efficacy: Cosmetic formulations should not only offer short-term effects, but also provide long-term protection against oxidative stress and support skin health.


The importance of antioxidants in cosmetic formulation

Antioxidants also play a decisive important function in the stabilisation of cosmetic products against oxidative processes. Various ingredients in cosmetic formulations lead to a deterioration in product stability due to oxidation. Vegetable oils, vitamins, essential oils and other sensitive ingredients are particularly susceptible to oxidative processes and can become rancid, change colour or smell unpleasant. The use of antioxidants slows down the oxidation of sensitive ingredients and increases the stability of the product.



There are a variety of antioxidants that can be used in cosmetic formulations for oxidation protection as well as free radical scavenging in skin protection – including Carnosic Acid, Tocopherol, Magnolia Officinalis Bark Extract, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract and many other raw materials.

Choosing the right antioxidant depends on several factors, including the type of product, the sensitive ingredients and the desired effectiveness.

Careful selection and dosing of antioxidants is critical to the success of a cosmetic formulation. Too high concentrations can lead to instability, while too low concentrations may not be sufficient to provide effective protection against oxidative stress. It is therefore important to find the right balance and use antioxidants in a targeted manner.

Through innovative research and technology, we have developed a variety of products that not only ensure product protection, but can also protect the skin from future damage.


Cosphaderm® Tocopharin as a solution

Our latest antioxidant blend addresses precisely these challenges. The antioxidant blend, which protects both the oil phase of a formulation and the skin from oxidative stress, consists of carnosolic acid derived from rosemary, mixed tocopherols and organic sunflower oil. Cosphaderm® Tocopharin is an easy-to-integrate blend with no impact on the odour or appearance of a formulation. The mixed tocopherols it contains are widely used as highly effective natural antioxidants to protect oil and fat components susceptible to oxidation. The contained carnosolic acid is extracted from rosemary and not only supports the tocopherol in protecting the oil phase, but also shows a pronounced effect in protecting the skin from oxidative stress.

Studies have verified and proven both its outstanding product protection capabilities and its protective properties for the skin.


You can find more information about Cosphaderm® Tocopharin here.


If you would like to learn more about natural product protection or need help selecting raw materials for your formulation, please do not hesitate to contact us. Our team of experts will be pleased to help you at any time.