5 Vitamins That Will Give You Glowing Skin All Year Long
Photography by Thitikorn Suksao/Freepik
One way to get the best of beauty-boosting ingredients is to dose your skin with nutrient-rich cosmetics.
We’re all conscious of the importance of throwing a multivitamin down the hatch and getting our five-a-day, right? But now, thanks to science, we know the things you put on your body do as much good as what you put into it. Pick the right vitamin-enriched product and you’ll see faster, more effective results. Here’s how to care for your skin, from the outside in.
Vitamin A: The Youth Booster
What it is: Heard of retinoids? This form of vitamin A is one of the most powerful ingredients for skin regeneration, explains WH skin specialist, dermatologist Dr Dagmar Whitaker. Also look out for words such as retinol, retinyl esters, retinoic acid, retinyl palmitate, acitretin and adapalene on ingredient lists.
Why use it? It’s more like, why not use it? The benefits are huge, explains cosmetic doctor Dr Maureen Allem, founder of Skin & Body Renewal clinics. Number one: volume! Retinoids stimulate collagen, which plumps up the skin, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They also prevent the transfer of pigment (melanin) into the skin cells, so they reduce your chances of pigmentation. Plagued with pesky large pores? This wonder vitamin will help shrink them too.
Does it work? Of all the vitamins used in cosmetics, vitamin A’s effectiveness is most supported by evidence. Note: you may need a doc’s script if you’re going to use a high-dose cream, and always use it with a high SPF sunscreen.
Vitamin C: The Skin Protectors
What it is: A powerful antioxidant, which means it eats up free radicals, the nasties that cause cell damage (culprits include chemicals and UV rays). Whitaker reports that it’s one of her favourite vitamins for skin because the cellular repair work it does is so powerful.
Why use it? Fans claim it helps reverse UV damage and skin ageing, can be used to treat acne and can reduce pigmentation. “It’s definitely the new kid on the block. We’ve underestimated the role of antioxidants in skincare in the past,” says Whitaker.
Does it work? While vitamin C has a reputation for being unstable in product formulations (it struggles to stay active), it’s still worth seeking out. It’s shown to increase collagen production (including dermal collagen, which is significant for wrinkle reduction), reduce the appearance of skin discolourations, strengthen the skin’s barrier response, enhance the repair process, reduce inflammation and help skin to better withstand exposure to sunlight, explains Allem. That’s quite a list of benefits!
What it is: Vitamin E is a naturally-occurring antioxidant.
Why use it? It protects against the daily onslaught of pollutants and UV rays, and may even reduce your risk of skin cancer. It’s also a player in the skin’s lipid metabolism, which means it’ll stay more hydrated, and for longer.
Does it work? Whitaker explains that while vitamin C trumps it as an antioxidant, vitamin E does help to smooth skin and boost hydration.
Vitamin B: The Hydration Booster
What it is: There are a number of vitamin B derivatives added to cosmetics, but look out for the powerful vitamin B5 (pantothenic acid), which helps moisturise, soothe and heal skin and offers regeneration benefits, says Allem.
Why use it? Provitamin B5 can function as a humectant, which means it helps to stabilise your skin’s barrier function, reducing water loss.
Does it work? “By applying a provitamin B5 formulation to the skin, you will increase hydration and improve its softness and elasticity, so it’s ideal for the treatment of dry, scaly or rough skin,” says Allem.
Vitamin F: The Essential Fatty Acid
What it is: Linoleic, linolenic and arachidonic acids aren’t technically vitamins at all, but they’re commonly known as vitamin F.
Why use it? Want your skin’s barrier function to work properly? Vitamin F helps with the maintenance of water retention in the skin.
Does it work? Unfortunately your body doesn’t make this “vitamin” itself but because it’s both water-binding and an antioxidant, it’s considered an essential fatty acid needed for good skin health. Slap on linoleic acid and it’ll just irritate your skin, so it needs to be used in combination with other skin-loving ingredients. While you may struggle to find it in cosmetic products, skincare hydrators and regenerators such as serums and masks are sometimes laced with this water-holding ingredient.