Introducing Apothaka® barrier defence AOX serum

Posted by Natasha Dauncey on

I wanted to dedicated a full post to the latest addition to my (small but perfectly formed) range: my new barrier defence AOX serum. Read on to find out more about why I created the formulation, key ingredients and their benefits!

Why do we need antioxidants (AOXs)?

The skin constantly produces free radicals through regular internal (cell and metabolic) processes and external assaults (UV exposure, pollution and irritants).  Although the skin has an impressive AOX defence system allowing it to protect itself from damage, as our skin ages this system becomes less effective and free radical generation increases. When the skin can’t protect itself as well, this free radical damage leads to oxidative stress, which in turn results in inflammation and skin ageing causing fine lines, wrinkles, dehydration and dryness.

Topical antioxidants (AOXs) can be used to enhance the skin’s own AOX defence system. These work by stabilising free radicals before they cause damage, and provide an additional safety net alongside sunscreen – offering protection and reparative benefits. What’s more, studies suggest that AOXs are more effective when used in combination, owing to their synergistic activity. Whilst I already include a few antioxidant ingredients in some of my range (niacinamide, tocopherol, CoQ10), I wanted to create a dedicated AOX serum with a combination of antioxidants which offered these synergistic effects.

There are a multitude of AOXs derived from different sources, which offer varying levels of support in the fight against free radical damage. As each AOX can benefit the skin in different ways / at different sites of the skin, and the fact that combinations of AOX can have a synergistic effect, Barrier defence AOX serum has been thoughtfully formulated with 8 different antioxidants to offer comprehensive protection from the various types of ROS (reactive oxygen species). In addition to their antioxidant benefits, many of these ingredients also offer skin soothing, hydrating, anti-inflammatory and wound healing benefits which helps to complete the formulation.

So, what’s in it?

Whilst ascorbic acid (L-AA) is considered a gold standard AOX, its instability is a major issue for formulating. L-AA based serums are renowned for oxidising quite quickly (which is particularly annoying given their often steep price!), resulting in lower efficacy over time.  Additionally, L-AA is more effective at a much lower pH – and this can cause irritation for some people (myself included!). Instead, I opted for a vitamin C derivative instead – and one with some great properties, encapsulated ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (ATIP). The key benefits of this particular derivative are:

  • multifunctional – offering antioxidant and brightening benefits, reduces visible signs of skin ageing (reduction in depth of fine lines / improved skin hydration)
  • lipid soluble allowing for a better affinity for the skin (vs water soluble ingredients)
  • pH tolerant over a wide range – by keeping the pH at a more “skin friendly” level we can minimise risk of irritation vs L-AA
  • encapsulated to extend delivery for continued efficacy and improved stability

Whilst vitamin C derivatives are perceived as less efficacious, it’s worth remembering that a less effective derivative which has not degraded at all because it is encapsulated will be more effective than a “stronger” one which will oxidise in the formulation. And as Apothaka® is all about skin-friendly formulations, it was a no brainer to use a gentler alternative to L-AA which would still offer the benefits of Vitamin C!

Other AOXs featured in Barrier defence AOX serum include:

  • astaxanthin - provides important antioxidant activities through free radical scavenging and activating the skin's cellular antioxidant defence system, protecting the skin from damage and inflammation
  • white tea extract – from the same plant as green tea but made using the tender, new leaves which are rich in polyphenolic flavonoids, typically referred to as catechins. These compounds deliver teas’ potent antioxidant activity, and white tea variety has the highest concentrations of catechins vs green tea
  • tocopherol (vitamin E) – prevents free radical production, including free radical damage from UV exposure, prevents lipid peroxidation
  • co-enzyme Q10 – reduces production of free radicals and helps to regenerate Vitamin E, helps to reduce DNA and UVA-induced damage
  • licorice extract - protects the skin against oxidative stress, offers AOX, anti-inflammatory and de-pigmentation benefits
  • acai berry extract – helps to protect against free radical damage to the skin during the inflammatory process
  • chia seed extract - isolated polysaccharides extracted from the seed are bio-transformed via fermentation offering wound healing, anti-inflammatory properties. Soothes and moisturises the skin, provides AOX benefit and improves the texture of the final formulation

A note on packaging

Packaging shouldn't be about how "pretty" something looks, and it's a particularly important factor with antioxidant formulations. Whilst it’s well known that ascorbic acid degrades quickly in the presence of air and light, other antioxidants are also susceptible to this – it just doesn’t happen as fast! Therefore, airless AND opaque packaging was crucial for my antioxidant formulation, in addition to my considered choice of antioxidants for comprehensive protection.


AOX based serums can often have an oily / greasy feel owing to the base ingredients used to help enhance stability.  As you know, I'm all about lightweight enjoyable textures, so barrier defence AOX serum has a beautifully light texture which is easily absorbed and is suitable for all skin types. You can apply it alone, before moisturiser, or combine it with a bit of barrier support serum - which is how I love to use it. This reduces the number of steps and results in an even dreamier texture!

I hope you'll try my latest addition if you haven't already - I've already started getting some wonderful feedback on initial results with it, and I'm really encouraged by the fact so many of you with sensitive skin (who can't use L-AA serums) are able to use this without any signs of irritation!

You can purchase Barrier Defence AOX Serum here

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