We know vitamins are critical for our overall health, but when applied topically, how exactly can they benefit our skin?
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. 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.
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.
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.
Vitamin B5 — also known as pantothenic acid — is another important B vitamin that’s often used in skin care. Panthenol improves skin hydration, reduces moisture loss, and has anti-inflammatory effects, making it beneficial for those with irritated skin.
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.
Vitamin E — called alpha-tocopherol — has been a staple in the skincare industry for a long time. 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. It also protects skin-cell membranes from oxidation by free radicals, specifically when the skin is hit by UV rays.
Technically known as phytonadione vitamin K is a fat-soluble vitamin. It is thought to be able to reduce inflammation, redness, and swelling. It can even benefit skin conditions such as eczema.