Skin care and supplement manufacturers are quick to claim that the right vitamin can revolutionize skin health, fight aging, and cure acne.
Vitamins are not revolutionary, however. They are naturally occurring substances that the human body needs to function normally.
So, the main way in which vitamins affect skin health is by ensuring that the body remains healthy overall.
Sweet potato and dark leafy greens contain vitamin A.
Many multivitamins contain 100 percent or more of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A. Other good sources of vitamin A include carrots, dark leafy green vegetables, sweet potatoes, and eggs.
Retinoids, including retinol, tretinoin, isotretinoin, and similar chemicals, are manufactured forms of vitamin A.
These products come in creams and serums to apply directly to the skin. Many studies support the benefits of retinoids for skin health.
Retinoids increase the rate of cell turnover. This can improve the texture and tone of skin, exfoliate dull and lifeless skin, fight acne, and slow the signs of aging.
A 2015 study found that retinol and retinoic acid increased skin thickness over 4 weeks. Retinoids also increased collagen gene expression. After 12 weeks, study participants had visible reductions in wrinkles.
Retinoids can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun. For this reason, it is vital to wear sunscreen while using retinoids, and for several weeks after. Retinoids can also be drying, so people should use a quality moisturizer and start slowly.
Try applying retinoids once or twice per week before going to bed, then gradually increasing the frequency of use to once daily.
Several B-complex vitamins may improve skin health. The water-soluble vitamins are readily available as supplements, including as supplements that include all 12 B-complex vitamins.
Research into the role of vitamin B-complex supplements is promising, though inconclusive. A 2018 study found that vitamin B could help the body produce healthy new skin cells.
Not all research has found such benefits, though many studies suggest that B-complex vitamins are most effective when people apply them directly to the skin.
Vitamin B-3, or niacinamide, may help some signs of skin aging. Some studies suggest that it may help reduce the appearance of age spots and other forms of skin discoloration. Some women report improvements in their skin and hair when taking prenatal vitamins that contain folic acid.
Folic acid may also improve signs of skin aging, according to one 2011 study. Researchers found that a cream containing folic acid and creatine supported collagen gene expression and collagen fiber density. Collagen tends to decline with age, which cause wrinkles and saggy skin.
Vitamin B-5, or pantothenic acid, may help with both acne and skin aging. A randomized controlledtrial from 2014 found that people who took a B-5 dietary supplement for 12 weeks saw significant reductions in acne and skin inflammation.
One 2010 study examined the effects of a skin cream containing vitamins E, B-5, and B-3. The cream improved skin tone and texture within 6 weeks. It also helped with age spots and hyperpigmentation.