Why Topical Vitamins Are Essential For Awesome Skin
What’s the deal with vitamins in skincare and do they really work? Here’s what we know about our ABCs…
Drink plenty of water… get a good night’s sleep… don’t forget to take your vitamins. This stuff has been drummed into you for years, but are you aware that topical vitamins are just as important to your skin’s health as the ones you eat?
Skincare ingredients frequently come and go, and some (yes, we’re talking to you snail mucus) just seem downright insane. But in an often confusing beauty world, there are plenty of ingredients that make absolute sense. Hyaluronic acid and glycerin in your moisturizer? Hell yes. Salicylic acid for exfoliating the skin? Count us in.
And then there are topical vitamins. From A through K, vitamins are an essential part of an effective skincare routine and they offer so many benefits to your skin, it’s hard to write them all down in one blog post. But don’t worry, we’re going to nail it because whether you’re looking to brighten and strengthen or nourish and soothe, you’re going to need at least one skincare vitamin in your life.
Here, we talk you through six of the best…
The Anti-Aging Must-Have: Vitamin A
Vitamin A is rarely mentioned on skincare products, but it’s one of the most important and highly effective ingredients in skincare. Confused? Don’t be, you simply know it as retinol – or the prescription version, tretinoin. Penny. Drops.
Retinol and tretinoin are the topical forms of vitamin A and are two of the absolute darlings of skincare ingredients, without question. We know that’s a bold statement, but ask any derm to name their number one skincare ingredient and we bet retinol would come up more than anything else.
When absorbed by the skin, retinol gets converted into retinoic acid which is super smart acid because it’s able to ‘communicate’ with your skin cells to active collagen production and stimulate cell turnover. This offers a whole host of benefits to aging skin, namely reducing lines, wrinkles and dark spots. As a sidenote, it may also be used to treat acne.
Retinol can be a little irritating if not used wisely, but we combine it with hyaluronic acid in our Retinol Serum to help hydrate the skin as it works. Because we're clever like that.
The Sensitive Skin Solution: Vitamin B3
We love a bit of vitamin B3. So much so that we recently launched a whole new serum dedicated to it in the form of Niacinamide Serum – vitamin B3’s other, more common name.
Vitamin B3 is fast gaining momentum in skincare for its multiple benefits for all skin types. For one, it’s a potent antioxidant so great for limiting damage caused to the skin by lifestyle and environmental aggressors (sun, booze, pollution etc.).
Vitamin B3 also has powerful anti-inflammatory properties which means it’s ideal for reducing redness, swelling and irritation. Couple all this with the fact that it’s very well tolerated by most skin types and you’ve got the perfect ingredient for anyone with sensitive or acne-prone skin. And that’s not all. It may also be a valid option for soothing rosacea or eczema – just remember to always seek expert advice from your skincare professional first.
The Hydrating Healer: Vitamin B5
While we’re on the subject of the mighty B vitamins, we can’t move on without a shout-out to vitamin B5, also known as pantothenic acid or panthenol, the alcohol form of pantothenic acid.
Great for most skin types, vitamin B5 is a humectant like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. This means it has the power to draw water into the skin to help keep it hydrated. But it’s hydrating powers don’t end there, because vitamin B5 is also an emollient, so it not only attracts water to the skin, but it also seals and locks it all in. This is one of the main reasons we use it in our Eye Cream, FYI.
Research also shows that vitamin B5 helps strengthen and heal the skin’s barrier function, making it perfect for aiding in the treatment of sun burn, eczema and itchy skin. Nice work, B5.
The Glow-Getter: Vitamin C
You’ll be no stranger to vitamin C, we’re sure of it. But do you know exactly how darn good this stuff is for your skin? No? Then here we go.
Vitamin C is one of the most popular antioxidants used in skincare. It’s mildly exfoliating, inhibits melanin production and has the ability to help reverse sun damage. This makes it a super popular choice for anyone looking to include a hard-working antioxidant serum in their routine, but particularly for those seeking to help lighten hyperpigmentation and add radiance to their skin.
Vitamin C can be listed in your skincare ingredients in many forms, including l-ascorbic acid, ascorbyl palmitate, sodium ascorbate and sodium ascorbyl phosphate. We know that’s a lot to remember, but just look for some kind of ascorbic/ascorbyl/ascorbate term and you’ll know that's some kind of C vit. BTW, we use sodium ascorbyl phosphate in our vitamin C range because it offers all the benefits with very little irritation. Winner.
The Master Of Moisturizing: Vitamin E
Often seen on your ingredients label as tocopherol, tocopheryl acetate or alpha-tocopheryl acetate, vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that’s naturally produced by your skin where it helps support, strengthen and maintain its overall health.
Levels of vitamin E deplete over time, however, so adding it to your skincare routine is a darn fine idea – especially if you notice your skin getting drier with age. Why? Because on top of its ability to fight free radicals and protect your skin from the sun, vitamin E has awesome emollient properties which means it’s the bomb at helping to repair and smooth cracks in your skin. And anyone with dryness or dehydration will know exactly how annoying and itchy cracked skin can be.
Try our Hyaluronic Acid Serum for a potent moisturizing hit of hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and vitamin E.
The Skin Strengthener: Vitamin F
A member of the omega-6 family, vitamin F is a blend of essential fatty acids, hence the ‘F’. No, honestly, that’s where it gets its name. You see, sometimes skincare really is quite simple…
Vitamin F is also known as linoleic acid and unlike most of our favorite vits, it can’t be produced naturally by the body, so including it in your diet (olive oil and leafy greens will take care of that) and skincare is vital.
So, what are its benefits for your skin? Well, vitamin F promotes ceramide production which are some of, if not the most important components of your skin’s barrier. Ceramides make up around 50 percent of your skin’s composition and basically hold everything together to keep your skin healthy and strong – kind of like the mortar in a brick wall. Like all the other good stuff in your skin, however, ceramides deplete with age, so anything you can do to help keep them replenished is a great shout. Oh hi there, vitamin F.
The Undereye Brightener: Vitamin K
Vitamin K is relatively new to the skincare world and much research is needed to prove its effects on the skin. That being said, it has definite potential – specifically for helping to reduce dark circles around the eyes. And here’s why.
A fat soluble vitamin produced by the liver, vitamin K is also known as phytonadione. It's essential to your overall health and plays an important role in blood clotting. Because of its role within the blood clotting process many skincare experts and manufacturers believe vitamin K can offer similar effects when applied topically to things like bruising, swelling, redness and excess blood that pools under your eyes. Yes, that's the stuff that causes unwanted dark circles.
The jury's still out on vitamin K, but it's one to keep an eye on. No pun intended.
So, what do you reckon? Time to add a vitamin or two to your skincare routine? We think so.
About Georgia Gould
Georgia is an award-winning beauty writer who has been in the business for over 20 years. British-born, she began her career as a magazine beauty editor in London before moving to San Francisco, CA in 2012 where she now continues her love as a freelance writer and editor. As well as her editorial work, Georgia has created content for many high-profile beauty brands, including Clarins, L’Oréal, Procter & Gamble, Simple and TRESemmé. Her passions include retinol (obviously), golfing, skiing and walking her beloved Schnauzer, Dave.