Intracellular and extracellular oxidative stress initiated by reactive oxygen species (ROS) advance skin aging, which is characterized by wrinkles and atypical pigmentation. Because UV enhances ROS generation in cells, skin aging is usually discussed in relation to UV exposure. The use of antioxidants is an effective approach to prevent symptoms related to photo-induced aging of the skin. In this review, the mechanisms of ROS generation and ROS elimination in the body are summarized. The effects of ROS generated in the skin and the roles of ROS in altering the skin are also discussed. In addition, the effects of representative antioxidants on the skin are summarized with a focus on skin aging. 2010 Japanese Society for Investigative Dermatology. Published by Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.