Add These Derm-Recommended Vitamins to Your Routine
Not to play parent here, but vitamins? They’re pretty important. While the days of Flintstones gummies may be long behind us, vitamins have become an essential part of nearly every skincare product on the market. And for good reason: Depending on the type, vitamins can strengthen the moisture barrier, prevent signs of premature aging, repair damage (like dark spots), and leave skin soft to the touch. Plus, they work even better when formulated together.
While there isn’t really a vitamin we don’t like, there are five in particular that tend to stand out. Extensive research—combined with ample dermatologist endorsement—makes the following ingredients must-haves in every skincare routine.
VITAMIN AWhen it comes to vitamin A, there are two kinds: provitamin A and preformed vitamin A. The former is what you’ll find in foods like carrots, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and cantaloupe, beneficial for our vision and immune system. The latter, on the other hand, is found in dairy, fish, and meat. It’s more commonly referred to as (drumroll, please) retinol. Yes, the retinol—the highly-respected (its use in dermatology dates back to the 1940s), ingredient for acne, clogged pores, dullness, and aging skin.
Does this mean we’re eating retinol on a regular basis? In some way, yes. You can even take vitamin A supplements, although studies show these aren’t as effective at providing many benefits for the skin (besides antioxidant protection), which is why it’s applied topically. Once retinol touches the skin, it converts to retinoic acid—this is where the magic happens. “Retinol helps combat acne, and it reduces fine lines and wrinkles on the face. [It also] decreases dark spots, facial oil, and acne appearance and it also boosts blood flow on the skin increasing collagen production,” says clinical dermatologist Kesenia Sobchak.
Pretty much any skin type (excluding pregnant and nursing mamas, who can turn to the ferulic acid in our Advanced Restoring Serum for a similar effect) can benefit from retinol. It stimulates cellular turnover, delivering a brighter tone, more even texture, and firmer skin. It also helps heal breakouts and smooths fine lines and wrinkles. Our Gentle Retinol Serum does just that without any skin irritation. For retinol results from the neck down, use a Retinol Body Lotion, too.
VITAMIN B3There are eight types of vitamin B, but the one most relevant to skin health is the third. Also known as niacin, there are two chemical forms of vitamin B3 you’ll find in food and supplements: nicotinic acid and—you’ll probably recognize this one—niacinamide.
You can find sources of this natural antioxidant in beans, greens, and yeast but most apply it topically through skincare. Niacinamide is a derm-favorite ingredient not only because it helps control oil, even out tone, and correct damage, but also because it’s gentle, non-irritating, and pregnancy-safe. “Niacinamide helps lower inflammation that helps fight acne, eczema, skin redness, and other skin conditions caused by inflammation,” according to Sobchak. “It also lowers pore appearance and keeps the skin moisturized for a healthy, smooth tone.”
Find it in many of our serums and treatments, including our Dark Spot Gel.
VITAMIN CVitamin C is one of the first things we turn to when we feel a cold coming on and topically, it’s often our first defense against dark spots and dullness. Its most potent form, L-ascorbic acid, is often found in many skincare products for even tone and dark circles.
Vitamin C is a bit unique in that it’s orange and has a distinct smell. It’s also highly unstable, degrading and losing its potency pretty easily. That’s why many turn to the powder form of vitamin C instead, like Found the Light. It stays fresh for longer periods of time and it can be added to any existing serums, gels, and creams.
Many know vitamin C as an all-star brightener for glowy skin, but it does so much more than that. Vitamin C is an “amazing ingredient that can be used as both an antioxidant and a skin brightener when formulated at high concentrations,” according to dermatologist Tina Alster, MD, FAAD. It neutralizes free radicals and provides a strong defense against stressors like pollution and blue light. It also activates the cells that stimulate collagen, delivering a firmer complexion. Pro tip: For even better results, pair it with niacinamide.
VITAMIN DWhen the sun touches our skin, it induces the production of vitamin D—essential for our bones, muscles, brain, and immune system. We already know, however, that UV rays can also be equally damaging to our skin. Not only can sun exposure cause cancer, but it’s also a common cause of premature aging, skin burns, and dark spots. That’s why it’s so important to wear sunscreen daily, 365 days a year, and to limit excessive sun exposure.
Vitamin D is an antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties so, topically, it can reduce redness, strengthen the skin’s barrier, and help soothe eczema and psoriasis flareups. “Adding vitamin D to your skincare routine prevents moisture loss, dry skin, and improves the skin's immune system,” adds Sobchak.
Not many foods naturally have high sources of vitamin D, but certain ones—such as avocado—can help your body absorb it better. We formulated our Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm with avocado oil for that exact nourishing, skin-soothing feeling.
VITAMIN EVitamin E deserves all the hype in the world; this ingredient is widely formulated in skincare products (although, you’ll probably recognize it under ingredient lists as tocopherol or tocopherol acetate). Many nuts and seeds contain sources of vitamin E, along with spinach, bell peppers, and pumpkin.
This antioxidant’s biggest job is to neutralize free radicals. “Vitamin E has antioxidant properties that help reduce the effects of harmful UV rays on the skin. Applying Vitamin E topically nourishes and protects the skin from damage from free radicals,” says Sobchak. It also has skin-conditioning properties, which is why it’s included in so many products for dryness such as moisturizers, barrier-repair serums, hydrating masks, and body care. Get your vitamin E fix by applying our Rich Moisture Cream or Conditioning Lip Oil.
Shop vitamin-rich skincare below.