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Hit up any derm in any city at any time of the day (well obviously during office hours) and ask them what the most important skincare ingredients are in anyone’s regimen. Each one will give you the same exact answer: sunscreen, retinol, and antioxidants. For the unacquainted, antioxidants are basically like Power Rangers for your face. They come in all sizes and shapes and potencies, but every single one has the same mission, which is to protect your skin from free radical damage.

As for free radicals, the short of it is that they’re unpaired atoms that desperately latch onto anything they can find, including your delicate skin. This speeds up the aging process, leaving you with premature fine lines, wrinkles, age spots, and loss of volume and elasticity. When you apply a topical antioxidant – like EGCG, which we’ll dish on in a sec – you’re essentially creating a shield between your skin and those free radicals.

egcgSource: Amanda Edwards/WireImage/Getty Images

Soo… What is EGCG?

It might sound like a ‘90s rapper, but EGCG is a super potent antioxidant that stands for “epigallocatechin gallate.” (You can see why they abbreviate it!)

“EGCG is an active ingredient of green tea, a natural compound, and popular antioxidant,” notes Dr. Michelle Yagoda, a facial plastic surgeon based in NYC. “It’s of interest to product formulators because it is easy to combine with other topical ingredients because of its attraction to water.”

In other words, the ingredient plays really well with others. Like vitamin C, though, it can be an unstable ingredient. That simply means it’s susceptible to breaking down when it’s not well formulated, when it’s packaged poorly, or when it’s exposed to light and oxygen. It’s key to find high quality formulations in air-tight containers.

Dr. Yagoda adds, “Antioxidants’ anti-tumor and anti-inflammatory properties make them a necessary step in the skincare regimens of those with a past history or a particularly high risk of skin cancer.

How to Incorporate EGCG Into Your Routine

EGCG is gentle, non-toxic, and considered a safe ingredient for all skin types, says Dr. Yagoda. Like many other antioxidants, it’s best to apply EGCG products in the morning. When you apply it obviously depends on the formulation, but in creams or serums it’s best to apply after cleansing and toning. From there, you can apply your sunscreen and makeup, and then face the day – literally – knowing your skin is warding off any ratchet free radicals that come your way. If you’re not sure where to start, here are some awesome products for you to check out.

100PercentPureEgcg100% Pure Green Tea EGCG Concentrate Cream, $45, is the perfect cream for anyone who’s craving both deep hydration and antioxidant protection. It’s loaded up with moisture-boosting acai butter, hydrating and soothing plant-based squalane, EGCG, and energizing yerba mate to help promote skin elasticity and firmness.

TheOrdinary

Consider The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG, $6.70, a wakeup call for your face. It’s a lightweight formula that boasts a 5% concentration of caffeine, which helps to nix dark circles and puffiness while firming your skin. The addition of EGCG ensures you get your daily dose of antioxidants, too.

PaulasChoiceResist

Paula’s Choice Resist Ultra-Light Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum, $39, is basically an antioxidant party for your skin. In addition to EGCG, it contains a blend of resveratrol, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which are also some of the most potent antioxidants you can find. This product also contains hyaluronic acid, which plumps and hydrates to reduce fine lines, along with skin-restoring niacinamide.

Glo-Conditioning-Mist

For the lazy girl’s dose of EGCG, keep a bottle of Glo Skin Beauty’s Conditioning Mist, $30, in your purse or in your desk drawer. This conditioning tonic is an awesome afternoon pick-me-up for several reasons. For starters, it hits you with a dose of refreshing moisture via water and hyaluronic acid that wakes you up. (We can all benefit from that around 2 p.m., right?) At the same time, EGCG creates a protective shield over your skin while the inclusion of a long list of botanical extracts and oils means skin is nourished along the way.

To recap, EGCG may sound like a complicated ingredient, but don’t stress it. This potent antioxidant, which is derived from green tea, protects your skin from unwelcome free radical damage. Consistently using EGCG, along with any of your other favorite antioxidants, means your skin will keep glowing for longer than it would otherwise. Go get it, guys.