In the last decade antioxidants from a group of polyphenols have been proposed as one of the most effective functional ingredients of anti-ageing properties that counteract the effects of oxidative damage to the skin. It has been shown that the use of polyphenols affects skin protection and mitigates inflammatory conditions of the skin. Numerous studies have confirmed that polyphenols by neutralizing free radicals, antioxidant activity and by their ability to chelate ions of transition metals can effectively reduce the level of nonprotein inflammatory mediators. The biological activity of polyphenols in the skin is primarily determined by their physicochemical properties and the ability to overcome the epidermal barrier as they try to reach appropriate receptors. This study reviews literature on the effects of polyphenols relating to the physiological processes in the skin and role of the major plant polyphenols in cosmetology and dermatology. Copyright © 2015 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.