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Ingredient Explained


Whenever you hear antioxidants, you’re most likely thinking of vitamin Cresveratrol, or tocopherol, you name it. Just when you were thinking you know them all, a new hard-to-pronounce compound comes into the radar, and everybody raves about it: astaxanthin for skin. It may sound like medication, but astaxanthin is an ingredient with huge antioxidant activity (and more stable than vitamin C) that you’ll be ready to add to your forever-expanding routine after reading about the good it can do for your skin. And it’s all backed by science.

What is astaxanthin?

Astaxanthin is a fat-soluble carotenoid (red pigment) that occurs in various red algae, shrimp, and salmon — causing their pink-red color —with a key role in the defense mechanism against external damage. The same does when applied to the skin: it acts as an antioxidant that offsets free radical damage, preventing oxidative stress. Actually, it has been found that astaxanthin is more potent at scavenging free radicals than other carotenoids like lutein, beta-carotene, and lycopene.[1]

Astaxanthin skin benefits

Neutralizes free radicals: Astaxanthin mops up free radicals, helping protect the skin against pollution and UV damage, and preventing oxidative damage that leads to premature skin aging. It has been found that oral astaxanthin has 65 times higher antioxidant activity than vitamin C and 50 more than vitamin E, thou these claims weren’t confirmed in topical application. According to studies, astaxanthin is also more stable than vitamin C.

During one research, the combination of ascorbic acid and astaxanthin showed a better antioxidative effect compared to each one alone.[5]

Reduces aging signs: Astaxanthin has anti-aging benefits when ingested or used topically “by enhancing moisture content and skin elasticity, reducing facial wrinkles and sebum oil due to its antioxidant, anti-inflammatory effects and improved effects on skin barrier integrity.”[2]

Encourages DNA repair: When cells that have been exposed to UV are damaged, astaxanthin aids in improving their DNA repair capacity, speeding up their recovery.[3]

Increases moisture in the skin: By preserving collagen degradation thanks to its antioxidant activity, but also because it has a role in inducing collagen production, astaxanthin keeps skin moist and plump.[4]

Prevents hyperpigmentation: Free radicals, especially UV, induce dark spots, and astaxanthin can prevent them as it counteracts the damage caused by external foes. 

Protects against UV damage: Oral and topical astaxanthin has been found to repair UV-induced damage and better protect against it when combined with vitamin C.[5]

Anti-inflammatory: Astaxanthin is an anti-inflammatory agent, making it a go-to for reactive and breakout-prone skin and whenever you face redness or sensitivities.[2]

The takeaway

Everybody can use astaxanthin for skin as it’s a gentle ingredient that has myriad benefits, but above everything, it’s s potent antioxidant that aids in keeping photoaging at bay. Thanks to its versatility, astaxanthin is added to various skincare products as it easily mixes with other skincare actives. From all, astaxanthin pairs incredibly well with antioxidants, such as vitamin C, ferulic acid, and tocopherol, boosting each other power and teaming up to keep your visage defended against external foes.


  1. Naguib YM. Antioxidant activities of astaxanthin and related carotenoids. J Agric Food Chem. 2000 Apr;48(4):1150-4. doi: 10.1021/jf991106k. PMID: 10775364.
  2. Xiangyu Zhou, Qingming Cao, Caroline Orfila,Jian Zhao andLin Zhang, Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis on the Effects of Astaxanthin on Human Skin Ageing, 24 August 2021
  3. Davinelli S, Nielsen ME, Scapagnini G. Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review. Nutrients. 2018;10(4):522. Published 2018 Apr 22. doi:10.3390/nu10040522
  4. Chou HY, Lee C, Pan JL, Wen ZH, Huang SH, Lan CW, Liu WT, Hour TC, Hseu YC, Hwang BH, Cheng KC, Wang HM. Enriched Astaxanthin Extract from Haematococcus pluvialis Augments Growth Factor Secretions to Increase Cell Proliferation and Induces MMP1 Degradation to Enhance Collagen Production in Human Dermal Fibroblasts. Int J Mol Sci. 2016 Jun 16;17(6):955. doi: 10.3390/ijms17060955.
  5. Oh S, Kim YJ, Lee EK, Park SW, Yu HG. Antioxidative Effects of Ascorbic Acid and Astaxanthin on ARPE-19 Cells in an Oxidative Stress ModelAntioxidants (Basel). 2020;9(9):833. Published 2020 Sep 6.
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