We have been educated on the importance of vitamins from a young age. Whether you’ve been force-fed Centrum with your breakfast as a child, or have listened to multiple conversations about how vitamins are essential for your health, it’s safe to say you might already know a thing or two about their benefits. When it comes to your skin, however, vitamins seem like a rather grey area. Whilst some of them generated major beauty trends and have become staples in our routines (we see you, Vitamin C), you may often find yourself confused about the exact benefits of each vitamin and, most importantly, how to get all the goodness into your skin. And we definitely don’t blame you. From serums and moisturisers to digestible powders and gummies, the possibilities are endless when it comes to caring for your complexion and giving it all the TLC it deserves. But fear not, we’ve put together an easy guide about the ABCs (and beyond) of vitamins.
In skincare, Vitamin A defines the group of retinoids – or, to put it simply, retinol. In its purest forms, vitamin A is a hero age-defying ingredient that helps speed up cell turnover and slows down (and even slightly reverses) the clock when it comes to skin ageing. As well as acting like a wrinkle-fighter, retinol has also proven itself to be an amazing treatment for acne scars, hyper-pigmentation and discoloration.
When ingested, as well as benefiting your skin, Vitamin A is also essential in supporting your body’s immune function, your reproductive health and even your vision. You can get your dose of Vitamin A from foods such as salmon, eggs and dairy products (containing retinoids) or carrots, sweet potatoes and tomatoes (sources of carotenoids). Additionally, there are a handful of Vitamin A supplements on the market that your skin and general health can benefit from; experts, however advise not to overdo it. Luckily, you can get a sufficient dose of vitamin A from multivitamins, as it is one of the most common ingredients.
Vitamin B3 is amazing at helping with hyper-pigmentation and evening out your skin tone. Also, if you suffer from excess oil and congestion within your skin, you’ll be happy to hear that this wonder ingredient helps regulate sebum production and can even ease the effects environmental aggressors, such as city dust, have on your complexion. Skincare products containing vitamin B3 are amazing at smoothing out your skin’s surface, reducing texture and re-balancing oils.
As a supplement, vitamin B3 (also known as niacin) supports the normal function of the nervous system and maintains energy levels, helping your body fight fatigue. This vitamin can be found in foods such as cereal, eggs, chicken and oily fish; experts advise that niacin deficiency is a rare condition - your normal dose of multivitamins, combined with a healthy diet, should provide you with enough vitamin B3.
Vitamin B12 is also an amazing fatigue fighter that helps boost the glow of your complexion. It increases the production of collagen and elastin, making it a powerhouse if you’re trying to combat any signs of ageing. Your skin is not the only thing that can benefit from this vitamin; in fact, vitamin B12 promotes healthy hair and nails as well (we’ll call it a win-win). Experts point out, however, that you are more likely to see results within your skin from its topical use, rather than relying on supplements.
Ingested, vitamin B12 helps with red blood cell formation and it is believed to boost your energy levels and keep your nerves healthy. You can get your vitamin B12 intake from fortified cereal, beef, nutritional yeast, tuna, eggs and dairy products. If you are vegetarian or vegan, nutritionists advise that you choose some supplements to keep your levels of vitamin B12 topped up.
Turning up your skin’s wattage, Vitamin C is the one that gives you that much desired glow! Strengthening your skin’s barrier, this vitamin boosts the production of collagen and elastin and reveals a brighter, healthier-looking complexion. When applied topically, Vitamin C acts as a super-potent antioxidant that shields your skin from free radicals and even boosts the efficacy of your SPF, making it a go-to for all skincare lovers and a big favourite amongst dermatologists.
Vitamin C is an essential in your diet too – helping with collagen synthesis, it supports the firmness of your skin even when ingested. This vitamin is also a key immunity booster, so experts urge us to ensure we keep our levels up through a healthy diet; oranges, strawberries, blackcurrants, broccoli and peppers are the all sources of vitamin C. Our bodies do not produce or store this vitamin, so it’s your responsibility to get those greens in!
This is another amazing antioxidant that supports your skin’s barrier, boosts its vibrancy and helps keep it springy by maintaining its elasticity levels. Vitamin D is also amazing at calming inflammation, so if you suffer from sensitivity, scarring or active spots, this is definitely worth incorporating into your routine. Similarly to vitamin C, vitamin D protects your skin from free radicals too and it has a crucial role in supporting skin cell division, growth and repair.
Topical and oral application of vitamin D are known to have different benefits. When synthesised through sun exposure, this vitamin helps maintain optimal health and keeps bones strong by ‘instructing’ your gut cells to absorb calcium and phosphorus. When it comes to your skin, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to acne in previous research, as this particular vitamin has an essential role in fighting infections. Spinach, kale, soybeans, oily fish and cheese are all popular sources of calcium and vitamin D; if your dietary restrictions stop you from getting the right amount, experts recommend opting for supplements.
Another hero beauty ingredient, vitamin E helps soothe and hydrate your skin and it is used in many moisturisers for its nourishing properties. Paired with Vitamin C, it can help neutralise the effects of free radicals and sun damage, and its anti-oxidant properties keep your complexion luminous and healthy. Also known as a natural anti-inflammatory, Vitamin E is amazing at quenching parched skin in all the hydration it needs.
When ingested, vitamin E supports vision, reproduction and blood health. Giving you the same skin benefits, nuts, seeds, leafy vegetables and fruit juices are amazing sources of vitamin E that allow you get enough of this amazing nutrient. Some good news - experts say that we are unlikely to become deficient due to its widespread across a variety of foods, so a healthy diet should give your body all the vitamin E it needs. However, if you’re in need of supplements, there are plenty on the market to help boost your levels.
A less talked-about vitamin as opposed to its louder and more famous sisters, Vitamin K is starting to make an appearance in more and more product formulations due to its skin-boosting properties. Known to keep dark circles at bay and help with skin elasticity, this vitamin is a must for those looking to tackle any problems with the under-eye area – including deeper wrinkles such as crow’s feet. Paired with other glow-boosting ingredients such as caffeine, Vitamin K can do wonders when it comes to banishing dullness and revealing a healthier complexion.
Experts say that the majority of us are deficient in Vitamin K – thank God for the supplements! You can get your dose from leafy greens, spinach and kale; and we urge you do to so, as it plays an important part in bone and heart health. When ingested, vitamin K can also help improve your memory function, so definitely make sure you get this essential goodness in your body.
By Maria Bita