Skin Care Vitamins, From A To E
Ask a general layperson the dictionary definition of a vitamin, and you’re likely to be met with a confused glance and possibly some made up nonsense. Well, actually, they’re (broadly and surprisingly vaguely) a chemical compound of a nutrient that living organisms require. So, glad we’ve cleared that up.
We’re all in agreement: a diet containing vitamins is a Good Thing. But the use of vitamins in skincare products is also important, both for skin heath and for superficial, beauty enhancing reasons. Here’s a vitamin ‘n’ skincare cheat sheet.
The active form of vitamin A is retinoic acid, which skincare nerds will know to be related to retinol. Retinol is really the gold standard of skin actives, both in terms of fighting persistent acne and in anti-aging. It does this by regulating skin cell turnover, meaning less clogged pores, a smoother surface, a more even tone and a youthful glow. Really, what’s not to like about that?
A great gentle, “beginners” vitamin A is the Mad Hippie Vitamin A Serum. It effectively exfoliates through its retinoic powers, but has a bunch of soothing, calming and hydrating ingredients (hyaluronic acid, ceramides and aloe vera) to minimize potential irritation. It’s also reasonably priced and from a clean, vegan brand.
If you’re in need of something more serious, consider Differin Gel. Containing the form of retinol known as Adapalene, it’s the strongest acne fighter that can be purchased over the counter. It’s also effective on some signs of aging like fine lines and hyperpigmentation. Be aware, though: this stuff is serious. Approach with caution and use sunscreen.
Vitamin B is typically found alongside hydrating heavyweight hyaluronic acid to boost moisture retention by the skin. Basically, this means it makes skin hold onto water better, so it looks plump, dewy and youthful. It can also help reduce redness and inflammation, perfect for sensitive skins and rosacea sufferers.
A Bargain with a capital (vitamin) B is The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. It’s a thin, non sticky gel serum which can be patted on before moisturizer in order to up the soothing and hydrating levels. If you have crepey lines, it can also be used on top of makeup to effectively blur and smooth.
Vitamin C is essentially the gold standard in terms of protecting and repairing skin. It’s especially great for city dwellers dealing with pollution, or those over a certain age who want to give skin a boost. It helps heal surface damage while preventing more from happening.
The vitamin C to end all vitamin Cs is surely the Skinceuticals C E Ferulic. It’s extremely potent and contains multiple types of vitamin C – alpha tocopherol, an l-ascorbic and ferulic acids. It’s pricey, but for those who its designed for a few drops each morning will provide noticeable results.
For those balling on a budget, the Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum is a milder, yet still effective alternative.
Vitamin D also protects and repairs skin – basically, it’s another useful tool in your anti-ageing skincare arsenal. It has less of an effective on brightening as vitamin C, and is better for compromised skin – the keyword here is fortifying.
Power Dose D by Dr Brandt is a great option for a dose of vitamin D to the skin. It’s deeply hydrating, making skin smoother, but also somehow bouncier.
Vitamin E is reparative, soothing and moisturizing. Like all vitamins, it helps fight off free radicals, which sound amazing but are actually extremely destructive to your skin. It strengthens the skin’s moisture barrier, meaning it can help treat post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation and stretch marks, too.
A truly lovely vitamin E option is the Alpha H Vitamin E Serum. It’s ideal for compromised or irritated skin that needs some comfort and love. It’s recommended for use after treatments to aid healing, but can also be a useful part of your regular routine.
For those without any particular skin concern, who just want a general skin boost or to help with skin health overall, going for a product with a cocktail of vitamins might be a perfect choice. They’re likely less potent but more generally useful.
The Mario Badescu Vitamin A D E Neck Cream is designed to fight neck skin ageing in three key ways. Exfoliation from the vitamin A, protection from the vitamin D and repair from the vitamin E. Do you really need a neck cream? I don’t know, ok? But if you want one, this is the one I’d go for.
Plantioxidants are also firmly aboard the vitamin bandwagon with their satisfyingly named ABCDE Eye Cream, which claims to diminish lines, brighten, firm, calm and repair thanks to the ABCD and E respectively.
Finally, an old vitamin infused classic is the Embyolisse Lait Crème Concentré. It’s a fairly basic yet wonderfully effective moisturizer, which contains rather vague claims of “vitamins and fatty acids.” Either way, it’s supremely hydrating, soothing and smoothing, and works perfectly under makeup. Plus, it’s fancy and French.
Annie Walton Doyle is a freelance writer based in Manchester, UK. Her work attempts to justify and intellectualize the choices one makes in "personal aesthetics," with a healthy dose of stupidity. When not touching makeup, she enjoys pubs, knitting, nature and mysteries."
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