If vitamins are the micronutrients our body needs in order to function, then it's only logical that using the best vitamins for your skin can have a profound effect on your appearance. But vitamins have not always been vitamins.
Let’s back up for a minute: Until the 1900s, no one had any idea there was such a thing. Then a Polish biochemist named Casimir Funk (yes, the best name ever, we know) came along. He was studying beriberi disease, and realized all the sufferers were deficient in what’s now called vitamin B1 or thiamine.
Casmir coined the term himself: After realizing these nutrients were essential to human function, he chose the name “vital amines,” with vital coming from the root word “vita” meaning “life” in Latin. But more than a century later, trying to figure out what each vitamin actually does — and which ones are best for you — can still feel a bit like wading through a bowl of alphabet soup.
If you’re deciding which ones to ingest, we suggest consulting a doctor or nutritionist. But if you’re looking to figure out the difference between a vitamin C serum and a vitamin A-derived cream, knowing the benefits of each can empower you to make the best choice for your skin.
And choices abound.
Vitamin-enriched skin care products can protect against free-radical damage, treat fine lines and wrinkles, and lessen hyperpigmentation. Basically, there’s a vitamin out there for every one of your skin concerns — you just have to know which one provides which benefits. That’s why we dedicated this article to the best vitamins for your skin, so let’s take a look…
Can Ingesting Vitamins Help Your Skin?
Taking vitamins orally won’t necessarily make an impactful difference in the state of your skin. That’s because ingesting a vitamin doesn’t allow for the same targeted application as skin care. If you consume lots of vitamins, they will be distributed everywhere in your body and on your skin — not only to your face. And unless you’re actually deficient in a particular nutrient, you’re just urinating out the excess you’ve taken in.
So while taking supplements might not be the most direct path to getting glowing, healthy skin, some studies have proven vitamins useful in preventing and treating specific conditions. According to a 2019 study published in the JAMA Dermatology, increased amounts of vitamin A — which can be found in foods like carrots, sweet potato, spinach, eggs, and fish — in your diet can lower your risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma, the second most common form of skin cancer.
The Best Skin Care Vitamins
We know vitamins are critical for our overall health, but when applied topically, how exactly can they benefit our skin? Here’s a comprehensive breakdown — in the order of most searched to least.
Vitamin E — called alpha-tocopherol — has been a staple in the skincare industry for a long time. It’s a moisturizing antioxidant, which guards the skin barrier and improves skin hydration. It also protects skin-cell membranes from oxidation by free radicals, specifically when the skin is hit by UV rays. In fact, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, the vitamin has UV protective benefits when combined with vitamin C.
Topical vitamin E has also emerged as a popular treatment for a number of skin disorders, due to its antioxidant properties. One of the most popular applications is the treatment of burns, surgical scars, and wounds; studies are mixed about whether it’s actually beneficial, though.
Vitamin C — also called L-ascorbic acid — is an antioxidant that boosts collagen production, decreases pigment formation, and protects against environmental stressors. Like other antioxidants, vitamin C neutralizes free radicals to protect against damage caused to skin cells by things like pollution and UV rays. Damaged skin cells mean accelerated signs of aging — like lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.
But vitamin C is also adept at treating hyperpigmentation. It inhibits the action of the enzyme tyrosinase — the main enzyme responsible for the conversion of tyrosine into melanin — and therefore decreases melanin formation. Topical application of some formulations of vitamin C can even effectively decrease discoloration caused by melasma, one of the hardest pigment issues to treat.
However, topical vitamin C must be handled with care: It can be unstable, meaning it breaks down and is ineffective when exposed to oxygen or sunlight. The best formulas use L-ascorbic acid and are packaged in airtight containers in order to protect the formula from oxidizing. If a vitamin C-based product changes color, it’s usually a sign that the vitamin is breaking down and is less effective. So keep a close eye on your formula of choice.
Vitamin A is widely-considered among the most effective skin care ingredients around. It comes in many forms, though its most famous derivative is the over-the-counter retinol. And it’s worth noting that vitamin A was the first vitamin approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a topical ingredient that actually changes the appearance of the skin’s surface. It works by binding to receptors in skin cells, in turn strengthening the protective function of the epidermis, protecting collagen against degradation, and stimulating skin cell turnover. For the same reason, vitamin A is a powerful acne fighter, too.
Retinoic acid, also known as tretinoin, is a vitamin A derivative that’s available only by prescription. It’s been evaluated as a topical treatment for both hyperpigmentation and fine lines, and is a dermatologist-favorite for delivering results with relatively mild adverse effects like redness and increased sensitivity.
There’s a lot of talk about vitamin D these days. We naturally produce this vitamin from sun exposure, but should we sit outside and risk UV damage? Uh, absolutely not. But it’s important to make sure we have enough: Research has found an association between vitamin D deficiency and diseases like cancer and diabetes. It’s also a key factor in bone health. If you’re concerned you’re deficient in vitamin D, please — please! — don’t go out in the sun unprotected. Instead, apply your sunscreen and head to a medical professional, who will assess your levels and potentially advise you to take vitamin D supplements.
Unlike other vitamins, vitamin B refers not to a single vitamin, but a group of them. There are eight different types: thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3), pantothenic acid (B5), B6, biotin (B7), folate (B9), and B12. Phew!
A form of vitamin B3 called niacinamide is one of the B vitamins most commonly found in skin care. Niacinamide is best known for helping skin maintain its normal barrier function, and reducing dryness and soothing related conditions like eczema. It increases the level of lipids — called ceramides — in the skin, making it ideal for moisturizing. It can also improve the appearance of your skin tone and texture. In fact, niacinamide is referred to as “fuel for your skin cells” because it enhances many of the processes that are important for creating healthy, well-balanced skin. It helps to reduce the appearance of pores, dark spots, pigmentation, redness, and fine lines and wrinkles.
Vitamin B5 — also known as pantothenic acid — is another important B vitamin that’s often used in skin care. It’s really good at soothing the skin and keeping it soft and supple. Pantothenic acid improves skin hydration, reduces moisture loss, and has anti-inflammatory effects, making it beneficial for those with irritated skin.
Vitamin F is just starting to gain traction in the skin-care world. However, it’s always been known to play an important role in our health thanks to its ability to reduce some types of inflammation and improve heart health.
While its name certainly implies otherwise, vitamin F is not actually a vitamin. That “F” refers to fatty acids. Vitamin F is primarily found in linoleic acid (an omega 6 fatty acid) and linolenic acid (an omega 3). Together these help regulate and promote the healthy function of our body, including playing a role in the health of our skin. Vitamin F aka fatty acids assist in normal skin function and protect a healthy skin barrier, while also acting as an effective skin-soothing agent.
Also of note: people who are acne-prone tend to have low levels of linoleic acid. Some studies have found that applying linoleic acid on the faces of people with mild acne helped diminish their blemishes.
“Vitamin” F — and note the quotes there — is incorporated in many different hydrators like moisturizers and serums. While the specific application will vary by product, vitamin F (you’re more likely to see linoleic acid and linolenic acid on an ingredient list) can generally be used both morning and night as part of your daily routine since it’s rather mild.
Wild Naturals Vitamin-Rich Skin Care
Now that you know the importance of vitamins in skin care, it’s time to switch out your entire face and body regimen with ingredients and products that will elevate your skin to the next level—the natural way! Wild Naturals products are brimming with natural ingredients containing all forms of vitamins and minerals for healthy, glowing skin, no matter your skin type!
Shop now at the Wild Naturals online store and see the difference for yourself.