Vitamins can be a tricky subject. You know that you should apply them topically and get enough of them in your diet in order to live your most healthy, thriving life. On the other hand, you don't really know the who, what, when, where, why and how.
What does each vitamin actually do for my skin and overall health?
Where can I find it?
Can I apply it topically?
Let's take it from the top and answer those important questions.
What it does: Vitamin A is an antioxidant that’s used by the upper and lower layers of the skin. It prevents sun damage by interrupting the process that breaks down collagen. It can also:
Does it work topically? Yes, but topical vitamin A can cause skin irritation in some people - so it’s generally only available via prescription.
Where can you find it? Sweet potatoes, carrots, spinach, and mangoes. Another type of vitamin A, called retinoid, can be found in beef, eggs, and dairy.
What it does: Also known as niacin - or niacinamide in skincare products - vitamin B3 helps support the skin, brain, nervous system, and blood cells. There's significant evidence that niacinamide can reduce signs of aging and fade away dark spots.
Vitamin B3 is easily absorbed by the skin. It works by gradually lightening pigment over the course of a few months. It’s also one of the few ingredients that can reduce inflammation and sebum (oil) production, which can balance oily complexion and minimize acne.
Does it work topically? Yes, it’s a popular skin brightening ingredient. It exfoliates and reduces redness too.
Since vitamin B3 is well tolerated by most people, niacinamide can be used twice a day every day (and feel free to use it with vitamin C to get maximum benefits from both of these powerhouse ingredients).
Where can you find it? Meat, fish, milk, eggs, green vegetables, and grains.It appears in skincare products as niacinamide.
What it does: Vitamin B5 is also known as pantothenic acid and panthenol. It’s particularly effective at hydrating the skin and improving the skin barrier function.
Does it work topically? Yes. Vitamin B5 is often used to help speed up the healing process of wounds and one study suggested that it can actually reduce acne blemishes.
Where can you find it? Whole grains, avocado, and chicken. You can also find it in our restorative hyaluronic acid moisturizer.
What it does: This MVP antioxidant does a few things that are great for your skin:
Does it work topically? Yes! But some forms of vitamin C can cause irritation. If your skin is sensitive, start with SAP, the form found in all Eight Saints products. This is the most stable form of vitamin C - it will never oxidize or decrease in effectiveness with time. It also easily penetrates the skin - unlike ascorbic acid, the form that most brands use - which is not easily absorbed.
Where can you find it? Citrus fruit, bell peppers, broccoli, strawberries, tomatoes, brussel sprouts, and other greens. In skin care, look for a high-quality brightening vitamin C cream or a de-puffing, correctional eye cream.
What it does: Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” vitamin D is synthesized by the body using sunlight and is commonly available in supplement form.
Research shows that insufficient vitamin D levels are strongly linked to acne because the vitamin plays a big role in fighting infections.
Does it work topically? No.
Where can you find it? Sunlight, mushrooms, fish, and eggs.
What it does: Also known as “tocopherol,” vitamin E is an oil-soluble antioxidant that repairs and treats the skin. It helps with issues like sun damage and scarring. It also has moisturizing benefits and can:
Does it work topically? Yes, and particularly well in tandem with vitamin C to fight signs of aging and strengthen cell walls.
Where can you find it? Oil-rich foods like nuts, seeds, vegetable oils, fruits, and vegetables. Look for it in skin oil and women's face serum that combine vitamin E with ultra-nourishing oils like marula, jojoba, and grapeseed.
What it does: Vitamin K is great at healing wounds and bruises, particularly because the body needs vitamin K to produce prothrombin, a protein necessary for blood clotting and bone metabolism.
When it comes to skincare, this makes vitamin K particularly effective at:
Does it work topically? Definitely. Vitamin K is often applied the skin to treat spider veins, bruises, scars, stretch marks, broken capillaries, and burns. It’s also used topically to treat rosacea and to speed up healing after surgery. Whether or not it can work deeply enough to help with conditions like dark circles is up for debate.
Where can you find it? Cabbage, liver, kale, and milk. It’s also available in topical creams.
What it does: Choline is a B vitamin that’s important for brain and body function. It helps synthesize neurotransmitters and regulates mood, memory, and muscle control.
The body needs choline to make phospholipids that are vital for cell membranes. Plus, it can assist in the production of collagen and elastin. So it's needed for healthy, wrinkle-free cells and helps your body make the compounds that will maintain your youthful glow.
Does it work topically? Nope - you have to get it through food and supplements.
Where can you find it? Meat, poultry, fish, dairy products, and eggs. Also look for it in cruciferous vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
What it does: Folic acid, otherwise known as vitamin B9 or folate, is important for the proper function of DNA. It’s also a great antioxidant, both when taken orally and when applied topically.
One study found that folate improved cell turnover, increased skin firmness, and reduced wrinkle volume when applied directly to UV-induced DNA lesions on the skin. This makes it great at reversing photodamage and providing anti-aging protectionto the skin.
Does it work topically? Yes! Look for concentrations between 0.05%-0.2%, though you can go as high as 0.5% for intensive treatment.
Where can you find it? Leafy green vegetables, oranges, and beans. When it comes to skincare, you can find folic acid in everything from anti-pollution creams to night eye serums - so you have lots of options to choose from!
Finally, lots can be gained from incorporating monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats (like omega-3 fatty acids) into your routine and diet. These can be found in nuts, seeds, avocados, and fish - basically any natural source of fat.
Luckily, you get one important essential fatty acid - omega 6 - in large quantities, so you don’t need to worry about it. But you should be concerned about getting enough omega-3s.
Why? These fatty acids actually make up a huge portion of cell membranes,. So getting enough of them is critical for proper cell function.
When it comes to skincare, this translates to skin that’s moist, first, and healthy. Omega-3 fatty acids can lower inflammation and strengthen your skin’s natural barrier too, thereby helping prevent wrinkles, acne, and infection. Look for them in barrier-protecting anti aging oil.
Here’s to feeding healthy skin from the inside out!