A new study has said anti-aging creams which are rich in antioxidants could infact be harmful to younger people's skin.

Scientists in the United States bred mice which produced excess free radicals to mirror the effects in humans, while they expected to see accelerated ageing, but instead they found the animal's skin improved.

The mice in the study aged and their skin cells became increasingly damaged by free radicals, eventually stopping dividing completely.

According to Professor Judith Campisi at the Buck Institute for Research on Ageing, in California, it's essential to look across the entire lifespan when examining mechanisms implicated in the aging process as mechanisms that benefit us when we're young, cause problems as we age.

She further said that said eating or applying large amounts of antioxidants might have damaging effects to the skin in young people because free radicals are necessary to keep skin regenerating effectively.

Free radicals are atoms which have missing electrons and so steal electrons from other healthy atoms, which causes cell damage in a process known as oxidation.

Antioxidants essentially ‘donate’ their electrons to neutralise free radicals and stop them from causing any more harm.

While health experts and beauticians have long recommended eating foods rich in antioxidants, it appears that it may only work in older age.

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.