How many times have you stared at the shelves of skincare waiting for a beautiful white bottle to shout, ‘I have all the juices you need to make your skin awesome, pick me(!)’? If you raised your hand my friend, you are not alone, I’m right there raising it with you.
Here’s the thing, even though you don’t hear those whispers, they’re absolutely encoded onto your ingredients lists.
Some will be front of pack superstars, walk in vitamin C and others will be lounging in the small print.
With all the new, sparkly ingredients to choose from, it’s reassuring to know there remains 3 all-star skincare ingredient families that are well studied and have bucket-loads of goodness to lend skin. Yes, that’s right, just 3;
This article is the first in a 3-part series, guiding you through the exact best vitamins, minerals and omegas for your skin type. Let’s get to this with the first – the 5 best vitamins for your skin.
It’s only polite to start at the beginning of the alphabet ‘eh.
1) Vitamin A
Found in leafy green vegetables and carrots that make you see in the dark *winks*, vitamin A also loves your skin. This vitamin can be covert and you may even have seen it called a retinoid or by names like retinol and retinyl palmitate. All of these names describe forms of vitamin A with a difference in potency, I’ll explain all about these differences but first you may want to know what exactly vitamin A can do for your skin.
Vitamin A is the BOMB for;
- Oily/combination skin types prone to spots.
- Skin types concerned with signs of ageing.
First discovered in the 1960’s and brought to clinical trials in the 80’s there is proof upon proof that vitamin A works. These aren’t just J-Blogs tests, they’re full scale clinical trials. Completed because Vitamin A was first marketed as a prescription drug to treat cystic acne.
Guess what – it worked! Participants also had another side-effect to brag about – their wrinkles had shrunk.
This led to the first official market of a prescription only vitamin A cream, called Accutane. For years Accutane was the only available brand. The manufacturing company Roche held a meteorically gold plated patent, which gave them the only available key to the house of vitamin A skincare. Their lease expired in 2002 which saw lots of new keys cut… and called Retin-A, Renova, Avita…
The prescription form of vitamin A is called tretinoin which is chemically called retinoic acid. You can only buy this form of vitamin A on prescription, but you can find different forms of vitamin A in non-prescription skincare. #HappyDance
Here’s the thing, your skin is like a biological oven. Add skincare into the mix and you’re giving it the ingredients it needs to bake cake. Your skin slots new nutrients into the right cake tins and breaks them down until they’re ready to eat. This is how the mainstream forms of vitamin A work, they’re 2 or 3 steps away from being broken down to retinoic acid.
Our Vitamin A waterfall looks a little like this;
Retinyl palmitate > Retinol > Retinaldehyde > Retinoic acid
If you want some spot busting or anti-ageing powers into your skincare routine, then vitamin A is your answer.
Find yourself a helping dose of vitamin A in these beauties;
- Medik8 Retinol 3 TR £31/15ml, a 0.3% encapsulated version of retinol that releases over time – that’s what the TR stands for.
- La Roche-Posay Redermic [R] Anti-Wrinkle Treatment – Intensive £29/30ml, perfect for sensitive, problem skin types.
- Sukin Rose Hip Oil 25ml £15/25ml, one for natural beauty lovers.
Best for: Anti-ageing, preventative skincare, anti-acne, combination and spot prone skin types.
Found on an ingredients list as: ‘Retin + something’ e.g. retinol, retinyl palmitate, hydroxypinacolone retinoate (no conversion steps needed), retinyl retinoate (1-metabolic step away), retinaldehyde.
Found naturally in: Rosehip oil – the reason why it’s famed (contains natural tretinoin/retinoic acid), sea buckthorn oil.
NOTE: It’s recommended to avoid high doses of vitamin A when pregnant.
2) Vitamin B3 – Niacinamide
If you read to the end of this article and you’re spoilt for choice on the vitamin front, I’d recommend jumping for vitamin B3. This not so well known vitamin is the multi-taking superwomen of the skincare world.
Need to bust an extra 3 hours office overtime while cooking dinner from scratch, having the laundry on and still be on time for your 9pm cinema date? Yup, that’s the kinda multi-tasking our friend vitamin B3 is effortless at.
Studies have shown that vitamin B3 is highly skilled at;
- Lightening, brightening and evening skin tone – especially when combined with another ingredient called N-Acetyl Glucosamine.
- Reducing acne and breakouts.
- Treating fine lines and wrinkles.
- Increases skin hydration by improved barrier function.
- Helps treat skin conditions such as rosacea.
- Protects skin from UV damage – yup, it’s an antioxidant.
Best for: Hyperpigmentation, rosacea, eczema, acne, skin types concerned with ageing, skin types slow to heal.
Found on an ingredients list as: Niacinamide.
Add some niacinamide to your routine with one of these 3 beauties:
- SharkSauce $29.00/30ml, this combines niacinamide with N-Acetyl Glucosamine making it perfect for hyperpigmentation.
- Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Anti-Ageing Night Firming Moisturiser £10/50ml, featuring 3 of the 5 vitamins on this list – B3, B5 and E.
- CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion PM £12/89ml, great for normal to dry, eczema and rosacea skin types.
3) Pro-Vitamin B5 – Panthenol
Let’s old school snapchat a few words. Imagine me flashing these name cards real quickly by your eyes – Panthenol… Pantene… Panthenol… Pantene. Did you spot the difference? I bet you did because you are awesome my friend. I bet you also noticed how similar that famous shampoo brand is to our 3rd vitamin ‘eh.
That’s no coincidence.
Pantene is named after our 3rd hero vitamin – Panthenol… and it’s as good for the skin as it is for the hair.
If you’re ultra savvy and you’ve noticed the tell-tale -ol ending of panthenol, do not worry my friend. This is an alcohol, but it’s not the drying kind.
Panthenol has many skincare promises to make you;
- Panthenol helps skin to repair by stimulating skin renewal.
- Rehydrates skin and improves skins barrier function.
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory.
- Helps to regulates sebum production.
Best for: All skin types, but specifically great for combination, oily, spot prone skin types and skin conditions with impaired barrier function such as eczema or rosacea.
Found on an ingredients list as: D-panthenol, panthenol.
Get yourself a dose of panthenol in 1 of these 2 moisturisers;
- Honesty Soothe Facial Comfort Cream £32/50ml, great for sensitive skin, naturally based, vegan friendly and fragrance free.
- La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 Multi-Purpose Soothing Repairing Balm £13/100ml, best for dry damaged skin.
4) Vitamin C
The health fruit of the skincare aisles. Vitamin C is a fab powerhouse of vitamin based goodness for your skin. It’s importance in skin health was stumbled upon over 100 years ago. Back in those days, sailors would leave for sea on a ships with no women, no refrigerators and err you can probably take a guess at the toilet facilities *winks*.
That meant vitamin rich fresh fruit and vegetables were a distant memory by week 3 at sea. It also meant vitamin C was as far away as the land they couldn’t see.
Without a Berocca in their lives, sailors suffered this lack of vitamin C as scurvy.
Scurvy had many symptoms and literally made skin fall apart. It started with soft tissues like gums, progressed to long-since healed scars and eventually took hold on any area of skin that’d mail it an invite.
The lesson was learnt and once sailors realised their zombie making disease was in fact vitamin C deficiency, they always travelled with a supply of citrus fruits.
Now we know that vitamin C is essential to skin manufacturing collagen. Yup, that important skin protein that keeps skin young, fleshy, resilient and bouncy.
We also know it’s very good at;
- Brightening and evening skin tone, reduced hyperpigmentation.
- Preventing UV damage.
- Stimulates collagen and elastin synthesis.
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory.
- Increases skins resilience and ability to repair.
Best for: Treatment of hyperpigmentation, age spots, acne and as protective and preventative anti-ageing skincare.
Found on an ingredients list as: ‘ascorb + something’ e.g. L-ascorbic acid, Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, Tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate, Sodium ascorbyl phosphate, Ethyl ascorbic acid etc.
Naturally found in: Carrot seed oil, rosehip oil, sea buckthorn oil.
Add some vitamin C to your routine with one of these 3 beauties:
- Hylamide C25 Stabilized Vitamin C Booster £26/30ml – a great booster to add to your routine.
- Medik8 C-Tetra £36/30ml – an oil based vitamin C that boasts potency and stability, no browning about this formula.
- Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Eventone Dark Spot Corrector £9.99/30ml – looking for an entry into vitamin C town? Then this is your gal.
5) Vitamin E
Last but so absolutely far from least. Vitamin E is the granddad of skincare vitamins. You’ll find vitamin E in well over 70% of moisturisers. Sometimes it’s there to protect the product from ageing and sometimes it’s there to protect your skin.
Vitamin E is a hard-core antioxidant. One that your skin already makes and knows exactly how to use. We like to call those kinds of ingredients skin-identical. The perfect partners for skin that already has the needed cake tin to slot it into. Also more than perfect for sensitive skin types since your skin won’t even notice you topping it up.
Antioxidants are ingredients that protect skin from being aged. Think of them like shields to ageing attackers like UV damage and pollution.
Vitamin E stops your from ever having to chase premature wrinkles away, because it takes their comfy couch away.
It also works synergistically with vitamin C. That means 2+2 doesn’t = 4. Instead it equals ‘to infinity and beyond’ *winks*. When vitamin C and E are combined or used together their antioxidant capabilities are amplified. That’s why CE serums are a big hit.
Best for: All skin types.
Found on an ingredients list as: Tocopherol, Tocopheryl acetate.
Naturally found in: Several plant based oils including Wheatgerm, Almond, Safflower and Sunflower.
Grab yourself a dose in 1 of these 2 all-rounders;
- Honesty Soothe Facial Comfort Cream £32/50ml, with 1% vitamin E for daily protection from UV damage.
- Medik8 C E-Tetra Pro Collagen Vitamin C Serum £48/30ml, ramped up vitamin CE formula for UV defense and anti-ageing.
Which skincare vitamins do you swear by my friend? Which ones do you use right now? Which products are your favourite? Let’s chat below…
Cheryl Woodman is a scientist & award winning skincare formulator who is more friend next door than bow tie wearing professor. As creator of Honesty For Your Skin her aim is to help you care for your skin in the best ways possible. She is founder of the natural & fragrance free skincare brand Honesty while also hosting 1 to 1 skincare coaching to help you get your best skin yet. Learn more here at www.HonestyForYourSkin.co.uk/Skin-Coach