Admittedly, all vitamins have an important role to play. Many are sold as essential supplements without which it would seem impossible to have a perfect complexion. But few studies support their effectiveness. What vitamins does the skin truly need? How effective are vitamin-based creams and food supplements?
It seems that without them our skin would look horrible. Vitamin A for dry skin problems such as acne or psoriasis. Vitamin B3 to prevent sun allergies. Vitamin B6 to balance oily skin. Vitamin C to repair sun damage, delay skin ageing and help collagen production. Vitamin D, produced by sunlight, to better absorb calcium and phosphorus, strengthen bones and prevent cavities. Vitamin E to fight free radicals and stimulate microcirculation. Finally, vitamin K (lately fashionable in cosmetic products), to prevent varicose veins and spider veins and reduce bags under the eyes.
In the USA, half of the population takes vitamins in supplement form. The market is worth about 27,000 million dollars a year, according to Consumer Reports. The cosmetics sector eulogize vitamins so it can sell its products in the form of creams – cosmeceutics – and pills –nutricosmetics. But the scientific community, claiming that evidence of benefits is unclear, calls for further studies in humans.
Despite doubts about their benefits, we now have – as well as the retinoids (vitamin A) – creams containing vitamins B, C and E, designed to stake a claim on shelf space and consumer pockets.
The industry is promoting the BB creams, which are claimed not only to be makeup, moisturizer and sunscreen, but also to repair the skin and improve its appearance. Like sunscreens, they contain zinc oxide or titanium, and they also have antioxidants, hyaluronic acid and silicone-based ingredients, such as dimethicone, which smoothes the appearance of the skin.
The existence of such a classical all-in-one formula at an affordable price (usually less than 10 euros) obviously does not preclude the marketing of more specific and more expensive treatments or of cosmetics focused on the benefits of a single vitamin.
Vitamin C creams are not recognized as anti-ageing products in the USA; they are, however, sold as potent antioxidants that help the formation of collagen. Creams that contain vitamin E (particularly alpha tocopherol) claim that they remove expressions of age from the face and limit the depth of wrinkles. Creams containing vitamin B are claimed to have a positive effect on the eye area.
But they all have low concentrations of antioxidants (which the skin absorbs poorly), their effects are only short term and there is no clear evidence oftheir benefits.
In short, another myth. There are no miracles, in fact. Not even in the form of tablets, pills, capsules or tablets, even though nutricosmetics are sold as revitalizing, antioxidant and repair supplements. The active ingredients are the same as in the creams, just the doses are higher –something that is not necessarily better.
In fact, some health professionals insist that we need to consider the side effects of consuming excessive amounts of vitamins. According to the Mayo Clinic, too much vitamin A can cause headaches and joint, liver or nervous system problems, as well as birth defects in pregnant women.
Too much vitamin C causes nausea and diarrhoea, headache, bloatedness, vomiting, insomnia and kidney stones. And too much vitamin E interferes with the action of anti-clotting agents.
As always, it is best to abide by common sense. A healthy diet, proper hygiene and some exercise should be sufficient to maintain healthy skin.
By: Anna Solana, science journalist
Source: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology & The Huffington Post