Ingredients rich in antioxidants

All skincare products are made to protect normal skin and repair damaged skin. At griffin+row, naturally-derived ingredients are blended in each formulation to cleanse, hydrate, nourish and enrich the skin. griffin+row devotees will be pleased to know that the healing properties associated with the formulations in all griffin+row skincare are corroborated by published scientific data.

Free radicals and the ageing process

Free radicals are highly reactive species that are generated during normal physiological processes. These radicals have one or more unpaired electrons which make them highly unstable and short-lived. In an attempt to attain a more stable state, these radicals attack proteins, lipids and DNA in the cells and tissues of the body resulting in less serious results such as premature ageing right through to serious diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and neurological disorders, autoimmune diseases etc. Mainly derived from oxygen and nitrogen, these radicals are called reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), respectively. ROS include superoxides, peroxides, singlet oxygen, hydroxyls, etc. while RNS are nitrosyl and NO• nitric oxide 1

There are physiological agents that counter the effect of free radicals. However, the constant onslaught of free radicals takes its toll and brings about the ageing process. Over time, weakened muscles, sagging skin and gradual loss of efficiency lower the immune status and strength of the body.

Free radicals in the skin

The skin is the only organ where the ravage of free radicals is apparent. Skin also has the highest concentration of ROS 2

Ageing in skin is directly proportional to the extrinsic and intrinsic damage caused by ROS.

Chemicals in food such as food colouring, contaminated water and even emotional stress can damage the skin from within (intrinsic). Exposure to ionising radiations (sunlight included), harsh chemicals, heat, dust and particulate matter systematically damage the skin from the outside (extrinsic) (see Fig.1).

UV exposure leads to formation of ROS and activation of cell-surface receptors. This in turn leads to the activation of a class of enzymes called matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs). MMPs digest skin collagen and elastin and destroy the firm and supple texture of healthy, youthful skin. ROS also leads to hypopigmentation (loss of pigment) due to impaired differentiation of pigment-containing cells (melanocytes) or faulty transport of pigment (melanin) to skin keratinocytes. Similarly, nitric oxide derived radicals (RNS) promote hyperpigmentation – dark spots – by activating the enzymes tyrosinase and tyrosine protein 1 3

Fig1. A brief overview of how free radicals hasten the ageing process in skin. ROS = Reactive oxygen species; RNS = Reactive nitrogen species.


The use of natural products in skin maintenance ensures that harmful synthetic chemicals which are often added for fragrance or other purposes do not hasten the ageing process. The damage done by free radicals can be partially undone or slowed down by using ingredients that are rich in antioxidants.

What are antioxidants?

For a molecule to be stable, it must contain the correct amount of electrons. Free radicals are unstable molecules that are missing an electron. This can cause them to react with other molecules, such as DNA, and damage them. Antioxidants give free radicals missing electrons, therefore neutralising them and preventing them from causing harm.

Molecules that counter the activity of free radicals are called antioxidants or free radical quenchers. The body has a repertoire of antioxidants that suppress the harmful effects of free radicals. There are two main types of physiological antioxidants in the body 4

  1. Enzymes that degrade free radicals: These include superoxide dismutase, catalase and peroxidase. These enzymes convert superoxide or peroxide free radicals to water.
  2. Non-enzymatic antioxidants: These are molecules such as Vitamin C (ascorbic acid), vitamin E (tocopherols), glutathione (a tripeptide of cysteine- glutamic acid-glycine) and beta-carotene that react with, and convert, free radicals to harmless entities. Ascorbic acid is also an inhibitor of tyrosinase.

 Given the high levels of free radicals, it is advisable to assist the physiological mechanism with agents that destroy free radicals in order to maintain body tissues.

Antioxidants in griffin+row formulations

At griffin+row, the blend of ingredients that go into each formulation ensures that relevant actives reach deep into the skin and repair the damage caused by free radicals. It is not surprising, almost all the ingredients have been chosen for their antioxidant activity.

Common antioxidants found in griffin+row ingredients:

  • Tocopherols – Vitamin E (the common name given to tocopherols) is a fat soluble compound found in several essential oils. Except for Santalum spicatum (Australian sandalwood) oil, most of the essential oils used in griffin+row formulations contain tocopherols. Tocopherols interact with free radicals and ‘quench’ their reactivity.
  • Ascorbic acid – Commonly known as Vitamin C, ascorbic acid is a water soluble compound that can react with ROS. Mainly found in fruit pulp, residual vitamin C is present in grape seed extract and in the essential oil of steam-distilled Citrus sinensis (sweet orange).
  • β- carotene – Also called pro-retinoids since they are precursors to retinoic acid (vitamin A), β- carotene has a molecular formula with alternating double bonds that can take up electrons from free radicals. A common component of green plants, it is the main antioxidant in aloe vera gel.
  • Catechins/protocatechuic acid – As natural phenol derivatives, catechins can actively remove ROS, mopping up free radicals at a high rate. Grape seed extract retains the catechins from the fruit pulp while rose hips and shiitake mushrooms contain a significant amount of this antioxidant.         
  • Limonene – Limonene is a monoterpene that has a strong antioxidant activity. Associated with a delightful fragrance of oranges, it is present in all the members of the genus Citrus -Bergamot, Citrus paradisi (grapefruit), Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) as well as in grapeseed extract.

Unique antioxidants in griffin+row ingredients:

  • Barbaloin: Present in aloe vera gel, barabaloin (also called aloin) is a bitter yellow coloured compound. It is an anthrone glucoside and protects cell membranes against free radical attack.
  • Caffeic acid: Caffeic acid like rosmarinic acid (see below) is a member of the hydroxycinnamic group of secondary plant metabolites. It can rapidly mop up hydroxyl radicals and contributes significantly to the antioxidant activity of Centipeda cunninghamii.
  • Rosmarinic acid: Found in significant quantities in rosemary essential oil, rosmarinic acid is a caffeoyl ester and a free radical scavenger.
  • Carnosic acid: Also found in rosemary essential oil, carnosic acid is a diterpene. While rosamarinic acid and the flavone isocutellarein 7-O glucoside are good antioxidants in the aqueous phase, carnosic acid (and carnosol) can scavenge free radicals in the lipid phase. The molecule is also a metal (Fe2+ and Cu2+) chelator and prevents the damage of molecules caused by these ions.
  • Procyanidin: Procyanidins derived from grape seed extract have an antioxidant activity higher than either vitamin C or vitamin E.
  • Gallic acid: Gallic acid (3, 4, 5 – trihydroxy benzoic acid) and its derivatives form a group of simple but potent antioxidants. Grape seed extract contains significant amounts of gallic acid and gallic acid derivatives.
  • Sulphated polysaccharides: The brown alga Undaria pinnatifida (Wakame seaweed) contains at least two types of polysaccharides that are highly sulphated. These molecules show extraordinarily high free-radical scavenging activity.
  • Galactolipid (GOPO): The galactolipid GOPO found in rose hip oil is an inhibitor of the enzyme matrix metalloproteinase which is activated by free radicals in the skin. This molecule thus prevents the breakdown of collagen/ elastin and protects against premature ageing.

The main antioxidants in griffin+row ingredients are summarised in Table 1.

Table 1. Antioxidant properties of griffin+row ingredients



Antioxidant molecule



Aloe barbadensis (Aloe vera)

Ascorbic acid (Vit C) Tocopherols (Vit E)

ß- carotene


· Remove ROS and RNS

· Inhibit the activity of lipoxygenase which causes cell membrane damage

5, 6, 7

Avocado oil

Vitamin E

· Reacts with and removes nitric oxide




· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Centipeda cunninghamii

(Old man’s weed)

Flavonoids, caffeic acids

· Reacts with and removes nitric oxide

9, 10

Citrus paradisi

(Grapefruit seed oil)

Vitamin C, limonene

· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Citrus sinensis

(Sweet orange oil)


· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Grape seed extract

Gallic acid



· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Grapefruit seed extract

Vitamin C, vitamin E, narigenin, limonene

· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Jojoba oil

Vitamin E, g-tocopherol

· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Lavendula angustifolia



· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Macadamia nut oil


· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Rosa damascene (Damask rose)


· React with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Rose hip oil




Galactolipid GOPO

· React with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)

· GOPO inhibits metalloproteinase activity (and thereby prevents collagen damage) triggered by formation of free radicals

8, 17

Rosmarinus officinalis (Rosemary)

Rosmarinic acid, Carnosic acid, carnosol, 1,8- cineole

· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)

· Binds to metal ions (iron Fe2+ and copper Cu2+) and prevents metal mediated oxidation reactions

18, 19

Shea butter

Vitamin E, a- tocopherol, catechins

· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)

· Catechins mop up most free radicals


Shiitake mushroom

Protocatechuic acid

  • Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)

21, 22, 23

Sweet almond oil

Tocopherols, Tocotrienols

· Reacts with and removes reactive oxygen species (ROS)


Undaria pinnatifida


Sulphated polysaccharides

· Mops up hydroxyl, peroxyl and nitric oxide radicals.

· Prevents lipid peroxidation and protects against membrane damage.

25, 26

The activities associated with the various active ingredients listed in Table 1 shows that griffin+row formulations are made to handle every type of damage caused by free radicals. The simple scavenging of ROS/RNS, inhibition of enzymes such as lipoxygenase and matrix metalloproteinase and even chelation of free Fe2+ and Cu2+ has been duly considered while making the formulations. In addition, the powerful antioxidant 1, 8- cineole (eucalyptol) 27 is present in Fragonia™ and rosemary oil and may contribute to the overall free radical quenching activity.

It should be noted that the Cleanse, Nourish and Enrich formulations have the centess+complex™ which can counter every type of free radical damage caused by ROS/RNS and lipid peroxidation. The latter two are also packed with the goodness of lavender, rosemary essential oil and rose hip oil to complete the arsenal of antioxidants that work towards keeping the skin healthy.

It may appear that a certain amount of redundancy in the antioxidant properties makes the formulations unnecessarily complex. This is because the potency of activity differs between essential oils based on their individual constituents. For e.g. Citrus sinensis (sweet orange) predominantly contains limonene whereas Citrus paradisi (grapefruit) also has ascorbic acid. Again, while the antioxidant activity of limonene from Citrus essential oils is comparable with that of lavender, they have a higher content of linolool and linalyl acetate. Lavender is by far the best ingredient to protect against lipid peroxidation.

The combination of essential oils and ingredients with different antioxidant activities also ensures that the different outcomes of ageing of skin are delayed. An even skin tone, decrease in hyperpigmentation (age spots), increased firmness of the skin and prevention of wrinkle formation are some of the outcomes expected with regular use of these products. In addition to these, the deep penetration of the skin due to the balanced combination of oils, supplies free radical quenchers to the inner layers of the skin.

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