The ABCs of Skin Care Vitamins

Knowing various vitamins—especially those that are widely used in skin care—is crucial for estheticians when it comes to treating clients. These essential nutrients are vital for maintaining healthy skin, strengthening the protective barrier, and achieving a beautiful, glowing complexion. Read on to learn about the key vitamins commonly found in skin care and how they can enhance your client's overall complexion. 

Vitamin A 

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin known to increase cell turnover, shedding old and damaged cells. This vitamin is a powerful active commonly known as a retinoid. Retinoids target a wide range of skin conditions, including preventing acne, fine lines, age spots, and dehydration. There are four main categories of retinoids: Retinyl esters, retinol, retinaldehyde, and retinoic acid. The first three are available over the counter, while retinoic acid is prescription-strength only. Retinoids work by binding to and activating retinoic acid receptors in the skin, changing its appearance and texture.1 

What you should understand about retinoids, though, is that it doesn’t matter which type you use. The skin can only use its most biologically active form, which is retinoic acid. Retinyl esters, retinol, and retinaldehyde all need to convert to retinoic acid when they enter the skin in order to be effective. The more steps it takes to convert to retinoic acid, the weaker and milder it will be.2 

Vitamin B 

There are a host of B vitamins with different benefits for the skin. The most common B vitamin found in skin care is niacinamide, or vitamin B3. This vitamin is beneficial for all skin types and is used to treat inflammatory conditions like acne, rosacea, and eczema. In other words, it’s great for sensitive skin and works to tone down erythema and enhance the skin’s barrier function.3 

Other B vitamins found in skin care include vitamin B5, or pantothenic acid. This vitamin is known for boosting hydration and for its wound-healing properties. It’s particularly beneficial for dry and sensitive skin types.4 Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, works to regulate sebum production and can often be found in products for acne or oil-prone skin types.5 Vitamin B12, or cobalamin, has anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties, making it an excellent vitamin for eczema.  

Vitamin C 

Vitamin C, or L-ascorbic acid, is by far the most popular and widely used skin care vitamin for its ability to reverse the signs of aging and brighten the skin. It’s celebrated for its ability to fade pigmentation, stimulate collagen, protect cells from oxidative damage and pollution, and even combat acne.  

Traditionally, Vitamin C is water-soluble, but in skin care formulations, using a stable form of vitamin C that’s acceptable to the skin makes it highly effective. The various types of vitamin C include L-ascorbic acid, or pure vitamin C. This form is water-soluble. Ascorbyl palmitate is a form that is fat-soluble, and tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate is a form that is oil-based and fat-soluble.6 

By Maggie Staszcuk 

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