The skin is the body’s largest organ and it is important to take care of it so that it remains healthy, although it’s not necessarily considered to be the most important organ by our bodies and the nutrients we ingest typically go to other more vital organs first, with little left to nourish the skin. This means that we should make sure that we apply vitamins topically (directly on to the skin) to be sure that it gets what it needs.
Most of us have a regular skincare routine that involves cleansing, toning and moisturising, sometimes with the added boost of anti-aging products, and most of us know that we should wear protective sunscreen to limit exposure to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays. In fact sunscreen is often the first thing on a dermatologist’s list when it comes to skincare, because it’s the best anti-aging product around.
However, a little bit of sun can be beneficial because our body creates vitamin D from direct sunlight on our skin when we’re outdoors. Just 10–15 minutes of daily exposure helps manufacture vitamin D throughout the skin. Vitamin D is one of the best vitamins for your skin, along with vitamins C, E, and F. Taking vitamins in supplemental form can keep your skin healthy and supple and looking youthful, but they are also found in vitamin enriched skincare products such as moisturisers, serums and cleansers, and are a great addition to incorporate into your established skincare routine.
Here’s our guide to the ABC’s of vitamins:
Vitamin A wins the gold star because in its purest form it is also known as retinol, beloved by dermatologists for restoring and regenerating damaged collagen. If your skin is dry, rough, or slow to heal, then this is a good sign that it needs Vitamin A. Using a retinol-based product may make the top layer of your skin dry and flaky, so it’s best to apply it at night and wear moisturiser and sunscreen the next morning. Always sk a dermatologist if you are unsure about how to use it properly. Choose skincare products containing common vitamin A derivatives such as retinol and retinyl palmitate to help minimize fine lines and even skin tone and texture.
Vitamin B is in the rock star category in skincare because these can keep the skin protected from free radicals and therefore keep it more youthful looking. The skin loves Vitamin B and this makes it well suited for faces creams and body creams, particularly for dry or eczema-prone skin. There are several B-complex vitamins that may improve skin health such as B-3, or niacinamide, which may help some signs of skin aging. Some studies suggest that it may help reduce the appearance of age spots and other forms of skin discoloration
Vitamin C is another powerful antioxidant that again protects you from free radicals and can possibly assist in lowering your chance of skin cancer. This vitamin is also known for its brightening effects on the skin and its ability to protect against pollution. Use it to help brighten dull skin and decrease dark spots with continued use.
Vitamin D was traditionally used to treat conditions like psoriasis, but also assists in repairing skin damage and can help in preventing infections that might be caused due to skin injuries as well as being used in creams to rejuvenate the skin. It can be applied topically as an oil to soothe the skin.
Vitamin E is commonly found in skin care products and can aide certain skin disorders as well as being used for skin repair, for cellular restoration from sun damage and as a healing support for scars or burns. Vitamin E is an antioxidant preventing oxidative damage to cells by helping to remove free radicals and is often used for its moisturising properties.
Vitamin F, sometimes thought of as the new-kid-on-the-block vitamin, is probably best known for its ability to hydrate, plump and heal the skin, but it is an excellent carrier oil that can get below the surface of the skin and is often used to facilitate the penetration of other active ingredients such as antioxidants.
Unfortunately, having great skin is not part of our DNA and can be affected by the environment, where we live and by air pollution, so using essential vitamins can help you achieve optimum skin health.
Always contact a dermatologist or seek medical advice if you have any queries or experience any problems using skincare products.