Many skin care products are formulated to include a few different vitamins, and this is because of the incredible benefits that vitamins can bring to the skin. From vitamin A to vitamin E, this guide will help you to understand the skin-related differences between some of the most common vitamins used in skin care.
While you may not notice vitamin A written on the ingredient labels of your skin care products, you have probably seen retinol, retinoic acid or retinyl palmitate featured several times. These are both derived from vitamin A, and are known for being one of the most powerful anti-aging ingredients out there.
So, what exactly does vitamin A do?
Its most revered benefit is that it is a cell-communicator, which means that it attaches itself to your skin cells, and then instructs them to act like a younger and healthier version of themselves.
As you can imagine, this means that it can affect just about every part of your skin…
Here are just a few of the ways in which vitamin A could help you:
- Speeds up the cell turnover process, which is something that declines with age
- Thickens and plumps up the skin
- Boosts the production of collagen and elastin
- Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
- Controls oil production
- Reduces inflammation
- Reduces pigmentation
- Minimizes large pores
However, vitamin A can have some negative side effects too…
This is quite a potent ingredient, and can be quite drying and irritating on the skin, especially if your skin type is sensitive or dry. Over-using the ingredient, no matter what your skin type may be, can also lead to thinner, and more vulnerable, skin.
To make sure that vitamin A will not have an adverse effect on your skin, it is important to do a patch test with the product containing the vitamin before applying it to your entire face. You should also begin using the product gradually, just a couple of times a week, and slowly build this up, as this will help your skin to grow accustomed to it.
Certain types of vitamin A, such as retinyl palmitate, have also been found to damage the skin when exposed to sunlight, meaning that products that contain these are best used at night.
The B Vitamins
There are eight different B vitamins out there, and each one has its own benefits when it comes to skin care.
Here is a quick overview of each:
- Vitamin B1/Thiamin – A powerful antioxidant that detoxifies the skin and boosts circulation. It also protects against free radicals, slowing down the aging process. A deficiency in thiamin can result in hyper sensitive skin, resulting in redness, acne or flakiness.
- Vitamin B2/Riboflavin – An important vitamin for acne, as it helps to maintain mucus secretion, preventing breakouts. It also stimulates the cell turnover process. A deficiency in riboflavin can result in acne breakouts, as well as dry and cracked skin, especially around the lips.
- Vitamin B3/Niacin – Helps with the production of ceramides and fatty acids, both of which are key components of the skin’s natural protective barrier. Also helps to heal a number of skin conditions, including rosacea, acne, eczema and sun damage.
- Vitamin B5/Pantothenic Acid – This vitamin is a humectant, meaning that it draws water from the air into the skin, keeping the skin hydrated. It also reduces redness and inflammation, while strengthening the skin’s natural barrier, making it another great B vitamin for acne.
- Vitamin B6/Pyridoxine – Helps with the growth and repair of skin cells, while reducing acne breakouts by regulating hormone levels.
- Vitamin B7/Biotin – Neutralizes free radicals and helps to maintain the production of fats in the skin, creating a smooth and plump complexion. A deficiency in biotin can result in flare-ups of acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rashes.
- Vitamin B9/Folic Acid – Stimulates the cell turnover process, while helping to detox the skin, clearing it of impurities. However, too much folic acid will result in an increase in acne, as well as dry and patchy skin.
- Vitamin B12/Cobalamin – Regulates the production of pigment in the skin, meaning that it can help to prevent pigmentation and dark spots. It also boosts metabolism in the skin, speeding up cell turnover. Research has shown that topical use of vitamin B12 actually delivers better results than oral supplements.
One of the most important skin care vitamins out there, vitamin C is a vitamin that just about everybody should be using, from teenagers to those who are battling against wrinkles and fine lines.
Because vitamin C is one of the most potent antioxidant in skin care, and there are not many other ingredients that can compare to the way in which vitamin C is able to protect and strengthen the skin.
In addition to speeding up the cell turnover process, meaning that skin is regenerated at a quicker rate, vitamin C is also able to keep the skin hydrated, by strengthening its natural protective barrier. Studies have shown that those who use vitamin C topically do not tend to experience dry skin or roughness.
Vitamin C also regulates collagen production in the skin, which is something that naturally slows down with age, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. This makes it a fantastic anti-aging ingredient, as it can really minimize fine lines and wrinkles.
When it comes to sun damage, this is an another area in which vitamin C can help, as it can repair damaged skin cells. These healing powers also translate to wounds, with vitamin C able to speed up the healing process.
It is common knowledge that vitamin C can be found in so many fresh foods, so why does it need to also be included in skin care products?
The answer is simple – by applying it topically, the vitamin is able to directly enter into your skin cells, thereby working its magic much more efficiently.
Since vitamin D is naturally produced in the skin when it is exposed to sunlight, it does work in a slightly different way when applied topically, which is why you will still find a few skin care products that contain the vitamin.
Studies have shown that vitamin D is effective when it comes to calming redness and inflammation, meaning that it can help with everything from acne to eczema.
Just like many of the other vitamins, vitamin D is also an antioxidant that can help to protect the skin from free radical damage (also known as “oxidative stress”).
Vitamin E helps the skin in a number of ways, but it is also often included in skin care products in small amounts, as it works as a preservative.
How do you know how much vitamin E is actually in a product?
Take a look at the ingredients list. If vitamin E, which is also known as tocopherol or tocopheryl acetate, is listed at the end, then chances are that there is not enough of it in that product to benefit your skin.
So, what exactly does vitamin E do?
To begin with, this is a great one to partner up with vitamin C, as the two work together when it comes to neutralizing free radicals. Using the two of them together will double the anti-aging effects that you will experience.
Vitamin E is also key in reducing transepidermal water loss, which means that the skin remains hydrated and moisturized for longer, giving it a clear and plump appearance.
Here are a few of the other benefits that you will experience by incorporating vitamin E into your skin care regime:
- Enhances the effectiveness of sunscreen ingredients
- Strengthens the skin’s natural protective barrier
- Speeds up the skin healing process
- Regulates the lipid balance in the skin’s barrier
- Protects against pollution and other environmental stressors
Vitamin K, which is also known as phytonadione, is not as widely used in skin care as the other vitamins mentioned, but you will still find it in certain products.
This is because its effects on the skin are quite specific…
Vitamin K is one of the best ingredients out there when it comes to reducing dark circles underneath the eyes.
Wondering how it does this?
This vitamin is able to strengthen the capillaries that lie underneath the skin. Since one of the most common causes of dark circles is weakened capillaries, vitamin K can really help.
Vitamin K is also able to target and reduce any fluid retention from around the eyes, quickly minimizing any puffiness, while increasing circulation to create a brighter appearance.
As you can imagine, vitamin K is most commonly found in eye creams, and other products that target the skin around the eyes.
Another benefit to vitamin K is the way in which it can increase the skin’s resiliency. Studies have shown that this vitamin is able to minimize scars, reduce the intensity of spider veins, and fade stretch marks, so you will also often find it in products that target these skin issues.
Want to make the vitamin K in your skin care products even more effective?
Try combining it with a product that contains vitamin A, as studies have shown that the two work extremely well together.
In addition to understanding more about the different vitamins used in skin care, you should also be aware of some of the important minerals out there that can benefit your skin. Many of these often work in conjunction with vitamins, boosting their effects, which is why most skin care products will contain a mixture of the two.
These are some of the key skin-boosting minerals that you should be keeping an eye out for:
- Selenium – This mineral protects the skin from sun damage, lowering your chances of sunburn. It is also a potent antioxidant that repairs DNA damage, while playing a major role in skin elasticity.
- Copper – Works with vitamin C and zinc to develop elastin, which is one of the building blocks of your skin’s structure.
- Zinc – Deficiencies in zinc are common, and these often manifest as acne. When used topically, zinc is able to regulate oil production and minimize breakouts. Zinc is also key in collagen production, wound healing, and cellular repair, while containing antioxidant properties that can protect the skin from UV damage. This is why it is often used in sunscreens.
- Sulfur – One of the most abundant minerals in the body, sulfur makes up a large part of the skin. When applied topically, sulfur inhibits the growth of bacteria, which reduces inflammation and acne while speeding up skin healing.
- Silica – If you want wrinkle-free skin, silica is essential, and a deficiency in this will manifest in the form of wrinkles, fine lines and other visible premature signs of aging.
Can Different Vitamins and Minerals Be Layered on the Skin?
With each vitamin and mineral playing such a unique role in your skin’s health, combining several of them will only result in greater benefits.
However, keep in mind that when applying different skin care products on top of each other, you should wait for a couple of minutes in between each product, to give the active ingredients in each some time to penetrate into your skin before being diluted.
Remember that the thinner and lighter the product is in consistency, the closer it needs to be applied to your skin. This will ensure that the vitamins contained in each are able to work efficiently.
Can These Vitamins and Minerals Be Used in Their Simple, Pure Form?
While you could technically apply the pure vitamins and minerals to your skin, there would not be much point in doing so, as they will not be able to properly penetrate into your skin.
This is why they need to be incorporated into actual skin care products, as these will have been formulated in a way to make the vitamins more bio-available.
Quality skin care products will also contain the most beneficial carriers for each vitamin, which helps to push them even deeper into the skin.