The human body is unable to synthesise vitamins at all or only in insignificant amounts. So we eat a healthy diet full of vitamins and minerals and/or supplement our diets with multi vitamins to fulfil our bodies needs.
Well that’s great but what about the needs of our skin “the body delivers only a certain percentage of vitamins to your skin, no matter how much you ingest” says Mary Lupo, MD, Clinical Professor of Dermatology at Tulane University School of Medicine. To deliver the maximum anti – ageing benefits we need to apply skin loving Vitamins in appropriate concentrations topically to our skin. So lets have a look at the Vitamins that pack the biggest anti – ageing punch.
VITAMIN A A fat soluble vitamin, it and its derivatives are used in skincare for its rejuvenating properties. Vitamin A normalises keratinisation by regulating skin cell growth and differentiation. It improves collagen density, improves skin elasticity, tone and texture, reducing lines and wrinkles while smoothing the skin. There have been many studies on Vitamin A and its derivatives, it has been tried and tested and anyone who wants younger looking skin should use a product containing one. These products should be used at night as sunlight inactivates most forms of Vitamin A. Prescriptive retanoids work best but are irritating causing redness, scaling and flaking that can last for weeks so it is best to start with an over the counter product with a lower dose.
VITAMIN C A water soluble vitamin and powerful antioxidant necessary for collagen synthesis. As we age collagen production slows down so supplementing our skin with an active form of Vitamin C at an adequate level will improve elasticity and reduce wrinkles. Vitamin C has also been shown to neutralise UV induced free radicals and in one study women who treated sun damage with a Vitamin C cream for six months saw significant improvement in fine lines and wrinkles. Studies have also shown that Vitamin C reduces the production of melanin and prevents oxidation of melanin and so will reduce pigmentation – lightening the skin. Vitamin C containing products should be used in the morning and with products that also contain Vitamin E as using both of these together will increase the antioxidant activity of the product four times. VITAMIN E Renown for its potent anti – oxidant activity VE is also an excellent moisturising and rejuvenating ingredient that protects and heals. Studies have shown VE reduces UV-induced cellular damage with clinical improvement in the visible signs of skin ageing documented with a significant reduction in wrinkle formation. Look for products that combine VE with VA as VE has a sparing effect on VA increasing the storage of VA when applied topically.
VITAMIN B3 Niacinamide, niacin or nicotinic acid is a very stable water soluble vitamin that increases levels of ceremides and fatty acids, both very important components of the protective outer layer of the skin - strengthening the skins outer layer keeps moisture in and irritants out. The study showed 2% of VB3 to be more effective than Vaseline for reducing water loss and increasing the hydration of the skin. In another study a cream using 5% of VB3 for a period of 12 weeks showed there was an improvement in the appearance of wrinkles, skin discolourations, redness and sallowness while improving elasticity. Used at a level of 4% VB3 has an anti-inflammatory action on acne with studies showing it to perform as well as prescriptive medicine clindamycin but without the risk of antibiotic resistance. Shown to improve flushing/blushing of rosacea and inhibits the transfer of pigment to skin cells thus minimising pigmentation. As with all of the mentioned vitamins make sure it is listed towards the centre of the ingredient listing and not the end.
PROVITAMIN B5 Or D- panthenol has been used for years in hair care products namely due to its humectant (water attracting) activity improving the elasticity of hair. D- panthenol is inactive but readily converts to pantothenic acid in the skin. In skincare it is used for its moisturising, regenerating and softening effect. VITAMIN K Has been shown to be effective in lightening under eye circles. Fragile capillaries allow blood to seep into the skin under the eyes and VK’s stops seepage by controlling blood clotting. Studies using a product with a combination of VA and VK resulted in significant lightening of dark circles after a period of four months, it was however not clear whether it was the VK alone responsible for the effect or the VA - so look for a product that contains a combination of both of these ingredients. If you want to provide your skin with the nutrients it needs to fight free radical damage, increase collagen production and keep your skin healthy, strong and hydrated you need to use skincare products that contain high levels and active forms of these Vitamins while of course maintaining a healthy diet and lifestyle.
Nicole O’Sullivan dip. Nut., dip Bot Med., dip.