Vitamins equal good, especially when it comes to our skin, right? It’s one of those beauty facts widely accepted, but the precise benefits of vitamins in skincare aren't necessarily understood by most.
Including these essential nutrients in our diet has obvious perks: keeping our bodies in working order (always a plus), but these organic compounds act completely different topically than they do on an internal level, opening up a new world of possibilities which can be game-changing (or even devastating if you don't use them wisely).
We chatted with top natural cosmetic formulator Pedro Catala, founder of Twelve Beauty, about the vitamins in skincare that you'll find within ingredients list, and what they really have to offer your skin.
If you’ve ever heard of retinol, then you have come across one of vitamin A’s aliases more commonly used in the beauty world. First used as an acne treatment in the form of Retin-A, it was soon discovered that alongside its ability to combat pesky blemishes, vitamin A also went to work on fine lines and wrinkles.
As Catala explains, it does this with its “great regenerating properties which stimulate cellular turnover”, leaving skin looking noticeably more youthful and smooth when used regularly. Who can deny the perks of constantly looking fresh-faced?
Although it’s hailed as one of the best anti-agers out there, there’s a catch. Catala says that topical vitamin A applications have the scientific community divided "as new data reveals that some forms of vitamin A can have a negative impact on the health of the skin.”
First up, what makes it so effective can also allow it to be potentially irritating to sensitive skin types. Also part of the retinoid family, synthetically produced retinyl palmitate (which is slightly milder than retinol) has had a mixed reception, with some studies linking it to skin photosensitivity. Our best advice? Stick to using retinoids in your evening skincare routine to be on the safe side.
Top picks: If you want to err on the side of caution, then Pai's Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil is a great place to start. The high amounts of beta-carotenes are an alternative to stronger forms of vitamin A. Want to try the real deal? Then Marie Veronique's Gentle Retinol Night Serum is your best and cleanest bet with stellar reviews.
This group of vitamins are beauty must-haves inside and out, as they’re vital for keeping many cellular functions running smoothly. This includes your skin cells. Some play a more important role than others though when it comes to achieving healthy skin.
Catala is a particular fan of niacin (B3), as it is "responsible for several activities in the skin, such as the stimulation of the synthesis of sphingolipids, free fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides; all of which play an integral role in maintaining the superficial hydrolipidic film", i.e your skin's protective barrier, which if not properly tended to can lead to "an increase in skin dryness.” Anything that helps us avoid a case of flaky faces goes right into our good books.
Another much-loved B vitamin in the beauty world "panthenol (B5), has great moisturizing properties” and is “also as an emollient with has soothing activities.” Catala also notes that it lends itself particularly well to maintaining the right moisture levels on the scalp, too, which is why you’ll often find it as a star ingredient in many haircare products.
Top pick: B vitamins like to stick together, and you'll find a whole host of them in the Herbivore Botanicals Rose Hibiscus Face Mist. Star ingredient coconut water contains vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, B6, B9, and B12, and it's the perfect vehicle for delivering these water-soluble vitamins deep into the skin.
Also known as ascorbic acid (in its most potent form), this antioxidant is equally known for its powerful brightening effects as it is for the difficulty in harnessing them. Vitamin C is highly unstable as exposure to light and air will quickly make it “undergo oxidative degradation”, Catala says.
“Adding vitamin C into your skincare regime does not guarantee that your skin will benefit from it," he explains. "Protecting the ingredients inside the formulas is paramount to guarantee safety and effectiveness.” This means that many products on the market claiming to be miracle workers thanks to this ingredient are quite often making empty claims.
However, when a talented formulator is able to overcome these obstacles, then the results can be stunning. Not only can it be of huge help to those who suffer from hyperpigmentation and uneven skin tone, but vitamin C boosts collagen production for firmer, plumper skin.
Top pick: The True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster harnesses the potency of ascorbic acid by leaving the mixing to you. Just add to your favorite serum as you apply, and presto --you'll have a serious glow the next morning!
Possibly the most famous of beauty vitamins, many people will be familiar with the sight of "with vitamin E" on the exterior of their lotions and potions. Aside from the skin benefits, Catala explains why it is often favored by cosmetic formulators; “it is included in the oily phase of the emulsions as protection from oxidation and to prevent rancidity of the oils.” In other words, its antioxidant properties help to preserve the product.
This comes in handy with skin as well, as it “counteracts the effects of free radicals on the skin and slows the aging of cells," notes Catala. Alongside this, tocopherol and tocopherol acetate give the skin’s barrier a natural booster, helping it to retain that all-important moisture.
Top pick: Lips can always take advantage of anything that keeps moisture in and protects from the elements. Not only does the Twelve Beauty Hyaluroil Lip Treatment have heaps of vitamin E to do just that, but hyaluronic acid provides intense hydration.
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