As you age, your skin can show the evidence of how you’ve lived. Sun damage, laugh lines, wrinkles, and a dull complexion are all common, if not inevitable.
However, we’re inspired by celebs who’ve taken aging in stride. Helen Mirren, who’s now 73, is known for her sassy approach to aging. Even when she was 30, she said, “It used to drive me crazy that the ads promoting skin products were using pictures of 15- and 16-year-old girls.” 59-year-old Allison Janney has said, ”There are a lot of things I’m noticing as I get older. I’m trying to grow old gracefully and embrace it, but I also want to fight it and do little things here and there to help.”
When it comes to caring for your skin’s health, there are two approaches. You can treat it directly with topical applications of nutrient-fortified products; or, you can work from the inside out with multivitamins, skin-based supplements, and a healthy diet.
Let’s break down which approaches are most effective, which vitamins can improve your skin now, and how to preserve your radiance as you age.
What’s the Deal with Skin Nutrition Supplements?
Skincare supplements, known as nutricosmetics, offer the promise of an improved external appearance by consuming elixirs, capsules, or tonics.
They came on the scene about 12 years ago. However, the claims made by the products usually aren’t reviewed by the FDA, and scientific “studies” can involve as few as eight people, as in the case of one dermatologist’s research on pomegranate supplements and a pomegranate lotion.
Back then, a critical response was, “They are unlikely to hurt you, but they may hurt your pocketbook,” said a Mount Sinai School of Medicine clinical professor of dermatology. That sentiment is still being repeated today. “Taking [skincare] supplements is not going to replace a healthy diet,” said Dr. Vivian Bucay, M.D., of the University of Texas Health Science Center.
What Vitamins Does Your Skin Need?
Whether you’re considering a supplement that’s targeted to your skin’s health or a multivitamin to help support your overall well-being, there are a couple things to consider.
First, some vitamins are water-soluble, which means that your body will use what it needs and get rid of the rest. Taking these vitamin supplements won’t cause any harm. Common water-soluble vitamins are Vitamin C and B-complex vitamins.
On the other hand, lipid-soluble vitamins such as vitamins A, D, E, and K are stored in the liver and fatty tissues. Because they’re eliminated more slowly, excessive intake can put you at risk of toxicity.
While all these vitamins are important to healthy and radiant skin, a smart approach to adding vitamins into your skincare routine is to begin with a dermatologist or physician testing your current vitamin levels. This can inform you as to what supplements can be most beneficial.
Especially for those who don’t have the best diets, are on strict meal plans, or have digestive problems, multivitamins or skincare vitamins can be a helpful way to help your skin shine from the inside out.
Using Vitamins Topically
You skin can get an immediate boost by using vitamins externally with creams, serums, and moisturizers.
Here are some key vitamin additives to look for in your skincare products:
Vitamin A: Also known as retinoids, vitamin A is a widely recognized wrinkle-reducer that can also repair hyperpigmentation and help build your skin’s collagen. Studies show that after seven days of using a 1 percent topical retinol, subjects saw some reversal in the skin’s age appearance. However, when use of topical retinoids is discontinued, the skin returns to its baseline, so regular use is necessary to sustain the improvements.
Vitamin C: As one of the best antioxidants, Vitamin C can limit the damage and wrinkles that result from excessive sun exposure. After topical use of vitamin C (3-10% solutions) for 12 weeks, subjects saw decreased wrinkling, increased production of collagen, and smoother skin. Results may vary, however, because those who have a high dietary intake of vitamin C could see little to no effect from topical application. Even though the natural form of vitamin C, ascorbic acid, has the best absorption, it degrades from air, heat, and light, which means that a product’s nutrition could vary widely.
Vitamin E: This strong hydration vitamin is often incorporated into many natural moisturizers to fight dry skin. When applied topically, vitamin E can fight inflammation, minimize sun damage, reduce free radicals, and repair scars, burns, and stretch marks.
Essential Fatty Acids: Omega-6 and omega-3 are a critical part of maintaining youthful skin, preventing both wrinkles and sun damage while increasing collagen and skin elasticity. It’s currently thought that the best way to achieve skin benefits from essential fatty acids is through topical application.
Best Foods for Your Skin
In addition to vitamin-based cosmetic products, a healthy diet of vitamin-rich foods can have a significant long-term effect on your complexion.
Dermatologist Kenneth Mark, MD, recommends the following foods as the top five choices for diet-based skincare.
1. Salmon: The pink color of salmon comes from astaxanthin, which is “thousands of times more potent than Vitamins C and E.” Plus, it contains omega-3 fatty acids, which help your skin stay moisturized and youthful.
2. Green Tea: With specific antioxidants called catechins and polyphenols, green tea can improve skin’s elasticity and help protect against sun damage.
3. Blueberries: They have a rich vitamin profile, but they also contain a powerful antioxidant called anthocyanins, which can contribute to firmer skin and decreased free radicals.
4. Kale: This super-green has a healthy reputation for a reason. It’s rich in the carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, which can minimize sun damage and help repair the effects of free radicals.
5. Carrots: The beta-carotene that makes carrots good for your eyes can also help your skin.
Do you want specialized help in caring for your skin? Visit Texas’ Ogle School Salon for microdermabrasion and skin treatments.