Can supplements for skin really provide amazing complexion transformations? Keep reading to find out.
I know you’ve seen them—the hair, skin, and nail supplements claiming to give you smoother, brighter, acne-pore-wrinkle-free skin. There are either rave reviews or full out criticism and it’s hard to tell if these supplements actually work. Here, we breakdown how supplements affect skin and give you the facts on whether or not you need to be taking them.
First off, do supplements for skin work?
Like a lot of things in life, it’s complicated. The short answer would have me tell you no, but there are varying facets to understanding how supplements work and how they affect the body. There are tons—and I mean tons—of supplements on the market but they’re usually split into two different categories: supplements for acne and those for anti-aging. These products claim to clear up your skin and smooth it out, leaving you looking more youthful.
Let me give it to you straight up: When it comes to acne supplements, your skin isn’t clearing up because of these supplements. Here’s what’s most likely happening: Along with taking these supplements, you’ve started incorporating healthier food into your diet, like antioxidant-rich plants, veggies, and omegas. You’re eating healthier, and replacing simple carbohydrates and sugar laden food with healthier veggie-rich foods will make anyone’s skin clear up. This just means what you eat has an affect on your skin’s health, so if your topical products aren’t working, there’s a good chance your diet could be affecting it.
Joshua Zeichner, the director of clinical and cosmetic research at the Department of Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital says the jury is still out on supplements for skin. “Neutraceuticals are oral supplements that offer benefits to skin and hair. While many offer the hope of flawless skin, we don’t really know how much of a benefit many have,” he says. “We do know that a healthy diet provides the building blocks needed for healthy skin functioning. Supplements may provide additional vitamins, nutrients, and antioxidants that may otherwise be lacking.”
However, there is one supplement that has shown results for the skin. “One supplement called heliocare contains a botanical extract called polypodium leucomotas which has been clinically proven to offer the skin some protection against UVA light,” says Zeichner. “It should not be used instead of sunscreen but can help enhance the effect of sunscreen and regular sun protective behavior.”
What about supplements that aren’t vitamin and mineral-based, like collagen supplements? These are different than your traditional skin care supplements because instead of adding a healthy boost of vitamins, minerals and omegas, these are usually single ingredient collagen pills or powders that claim to boost collagen synthesis. This increase is meant to smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, and improve overall skin elasticity.
According to Zeichner, “Collagen is a large molecule that is broken down in your gut. It is thought that the component amino acids may be absorbed into the bloodstream to provide the body with adequate storage for proper functioning of the skin.”
There are two different types on the market: traditional collagen and collagen peptides. Traditional collagen supplements are especially controversial given that they claim to increase collagen synthesis. The most common type of collagen used in these supplements is hydrolyzed collagen, a specific kind that is chemically broken down into smaller molecules that can improve barrier permeability. This kind was created because traditional collagen molecules are too large and cannot effectively penetrate the skin.
I hate to break it to you, but there are no studies that suggest that once absorbed into the body, a collagen supplement will have any effect on collagen production. Long story short: Save your money.
On the other hand, collagen peptides are different than their traditional forms. Both topically and internally, studies have shown that the peptides can have an effect on skin health. While taking collagen peptides hasn’t proven to increase collagen synthesis, they have improved skin by helping to keep it moisturized and decreasing transepidermal water loss.
If you have dry skin, it might be worth it to give collagen peptides a chance, but keep in mind that they’re not going to magically erase all of your wrinkles. Applying topical products with collagen peptides, like the Hanskin Bio Origin The Ampoule Serum (a concentrated serum packed with saccharomyces ferment filtrate, peptides, and adenosine), can do the same while also adding other beneficial ingredients to your skin. Plus, more studies show that topical application of collagen peptides can work to increase collagen production, so it seems like it’s more worth it to stick with skin care products containing collagen peptides than waste your money on supplements.
The bottom line:
Skin care supplements aren’t going to revolutionize your routine, but they’re worth a try if you think your diet is affecting your skin. But keep in mind: Supplements “work” because they’re adding beneficial ingredients to your body, not because any of the ingredients are miracle workers.
And if you’re going to give supplements a try, here’s some shopping advice from Zeichner: “When choosing a supplement, look for one that has proven effectiveness. It is not necessarily the ingredient, but rather the ingredient or combination of ingredients in that particular product that is important.”