Dr Pauline Hili has over 20 years of experience working with natural and organic ingredients, and a deep knowledge and understanding of how the skin utilises vitamins and minerals topically, which are so important for not only skin health, but our overall wellbeing. Dr Hili joined us for our Skin School with a lecture and Q&A session on vitamins and the role they play in our skin care regimens.
If there was one key concept to take away from the evening it was this:
Good health and great skin comes from smart usage of vitamins in our diets and on our skin.
Dr Hili explained that we know from both clinical research and personal experiences that there is no magic bullet against ageing, but we can improve the health, vitality, and resiliency of our bodies and our skin by incorporating the right nutrients into our daily routines.
Topical vitamins have 3 major actions on the skin; Anti-Ageing, UV protective, and Detoxifying. Applying them externally has been proven in clinical testing to be directly effective for skin concerns. In some instances, as with Vitamin C, 30-40% more is attained through topical application of vitamin-rich cream to the skin than by ingestion alone. This is because when you take vitamins internally, they get shared by all your other organs. When applied to the skin in proper concentration, they go straight where they are needed.
In some cases, for example with Vitamin C, the skin has a reserve of particular vitamins which can be depleted by UV exposure and other environmental stressors.
Holiday tip: If you are going away to a sunny locale, or to a winter wonderland with lots of light reflective snow, Dr Hili recommends using a topical product rich with Vitamin C starting a week before your trip, to top up the skin’s reservoir of antioxidant defenses, and help to prevent damage. Remember the attack on the skin’s defenses doesn’t stop once you’re hidden away from UV rays, so it is important to continue to give your skin a good dose of vitamin rich care even after you’ve returned home.
THE ALPHABET OF BEST SKIN VITAMINS
A, B, C, D*, & E – These vitamins support healthy skin tissue, maintain the youthfulness of the skin’s extracellular matrix (where your collagen and elastin are found) and the surface acid mantle (your skin’s own protective barrier), while also helping to move metabolic waste out of the cells. They help clean up the mess in your skin cells after you’ve partied too hard.
Vitamin A – An Anti-Ageing Powerhouse
- • Best Skincare Source: Rosehip oil
- • Get It In Your Food: Sweet Potato, Spinach, Kale, Pumpkin
Vitamin A keeps the cell membranes healthy. It also reduces wrinkles, fades pigmentation and smoothes down roughness. Plant-based Vitamin A is much more gentle on the skin than its synthetic counterparts and is best used at night so it can work with your skin’s repairing processes.
Vitamin B (B3, B5, B7, B12) – Great for all skins, but especially Acne/Oily Skin
- • Best Skincare Source: Apple extracts
- • Get It In Your Food: Eggs, Apples, Avocado
This group of water-soluble vitamins is very important for cell metabolism. Often found together in nature, they detoxify and rebalance the skin. B vitamins increase the production of ceramides, which are involved in cell to cell communication. They also control sebum production by regulating enzyme activity in the skin.
- • B3 (Niacin) aids in the repair of the skin’s outer barrier, and helps detoxify and accelerate lipolysis
- • B5 (Pathenoic acid) helps replenish skin nutrients, may help prevent keloid scarring, and helps heal skin wounds
- • B7 (Biotin) helps maintain skin/hair flexibility
- • B12 (Cobalamin) helps make RNA which produces all the types of collagen (1, 2, & 3 are important for skin health)
Vitamin C – Protection Against the Elements
- • Best Skincare Source: Citrus Fruits, Acerola Cherry
- • Get It In Your Food: Broccoli, Kiwi Fruit, Strawberry, Acerola Cherry
An extremely strong antioxidant with renowned protective properties, Vitamin C is required by skin to produce enzymes, and has a direct role to play in collagen synthesis. It is also important for wound healing, and has corrective properties against photo ageing and UV damage. Very easily destroyed by smoke, pollution, UV exposure, this one is important to replenish.
Vitamin E – Soothing for Irritated Skin
- • Best Skincare Source: Sunflower Seed Oil, Shea Butter
- • Get It In Your Food: Almonds, Pine Nuts, Spinach, Apricots
This fat soluble vitamin is a protective antioxidant that much like Vitamin C, depletes with sun exposure and is not made by the body. Used by the skin to enhance its protective layer, Vitamin E is renowned for its repairative and antioxidant properties. The good news is, you can top up on these properties through topical application.
Vitamin D – The Sunshine Vitamin*
- • Get It In Your Food: Salmon, Eggs, Mushrooms
Research suggests that Vitamin D may be more important than we know when it comes to healing skin conditions like psoriasis. It also plays a role in the healthy production of new skin cells deep within the skins layers. Our ability to synthesize Vitamin D also reduces as we age, so it is even more important to make sure we supplement D3 or up out intake of Vitamin D rich foods for lifelong health both overall, and in our skin.
* Vitamin D is not used topically but is so important for skin health Dr Hili included it as a reminder
In summary, we know vitamins do more than improve surface texture and tone of the skin. They play a vital role in the way new healthy cells form, how they communicate, and how long they stay youthful and vital. Their strong antioxidant properties help clean up the ‘trash’ left over after cellular metabolism. Topically applied vitamins help move the ‘junk’ from of your cells and removes it, much in the way a dietary detox helps your body rid itself of toxins it accumulated through daily life. With targeted application, vitamins may help to correct imbalances in the skin, and help to extend the longevity and youthfulness of our complexions. Dr. Hili is a champion of proper long term maintenance for the skin, and that translates into a daily routine that utilises vitamin enriched preparations targeted for your skin’s needs.
For further reading, Dr Hili highly recommends the writings of Cambridge researcher Aubrey de Grey.
If you’d like to attend a future Skin School lecture, keep an eye on our Events page!