Collagen or Co-Enzyme Q10? Vitamin B12 injection, or Vitamin C powder in your first glass of water of the day? Maybe you’re more of the spirulina smoothie type, or perhaps you’re into probiotics. In the last few years, “nutricosmetics” have exploded in popularity, and moved the market away from garden variety multivitamins to a multi-multi-billion dollar industry – in fact, Net-A-Porter reported that last year, shoppers were spending more on supplements than they were on skincare.
Supplements are also becoming ever more seamless, with no more need to palm a cocktail of pills when you can spritz under your tongue or add to food – in many workplaces, it’s now utterly commonplace to hear a vitamin shake being mixed up in the kitchenette.
Vogue spoke to Cadogan Clinic consultant dermatologist Dr Catherine Borysiewicz and aesthetic doctor and Integrative Beauty founder Dr David Jack about how to navigate the buzzwords and choose the right supplement for you…
The first thing to understand is that the potency of an ingredient topically doesn’t guarantee the same result orally. Of course, a powder or pill labelled with ingredients you recognise might suggest it’ll offer similar benefits to your favorite serum, but your digestive system doesn’t metabolise ingredients in the same way your skin does. “Collagen supplements are a fairly good example of this,” noted Dr Borysiewicz. “Collagen is essentially a protein complex. When that reaches your GI tract, your body will break it down into amino acids, just like any other protein. It’s very hard to establish whether the collagen you ingest will actually reach the skin as collagen – it may be converted into something else.”
Collagen supplements were originally designed for injury recovery, not for aesthetics. “They’re a bulk meal of amino acids,” added Dr Borysiewicz. However, there are other theories about how they may be beneficial. For example, there’s a school of thought that they may work by your body noticing a sudden influx of collagen, which it perceives as the result of an injury, and so produces more.
That being said, they do offer other benefits. Plenty of collagen supplements are formulated with other skin-friendly extracts and vitamins, making the amino acid boost an added bonus. “Likewise, for anyone suffering with an inflammatory disease like eczema or psoriasis, they could be helpful,” said Dr Borysiewicz. Collagen is also fairly hard to get into your diet (unless you’re a big fan of chicken livers), and so a supplement may well be just that – a supplement to your dietary intake. “If I was going through a really hectic period and not eating as well as I may like, I might consider taking one,” concluded Dr Borysiewicz. Anyone living off late-night Deliveroo sushi and harried handfuls of snacks between meetings, take note.
Vogue recommends Rejuvenate Veggiecol (£34.89, available at Facethefuture.com), which includes a vegetarian collagen peptide, alongside hyaluronic acid, Vitamin C & B, and zinc.
What vitamins should you take for your skin?
“Vitamin C and E are some of the ultimate skin supplements,” said Dr Jack (you can hear the sound of countless tubes of Berocca being picked up, but hang in there). “They work in synergy really well together, and they’re powerful antioxidants.” Vitamin D is another seemingly-humble addition that packs serious benefits: “There are so many studies that show the myriad of benefits of Vitamin D, and in order to get enough through sun exposure alone, you’d have to lay out until you were burnt, which obviously would be terrible!” explained Dr Borysiewicz. “I also really like the options we have now with powdered varieties that you can add to water or a juice. They’re far easier on the stomach, and these antioxidants like Vitamins C & E really do help safeguard against environmental damage, which can cause both skin ageing and acne.”
Vogue recommends BetterYou Vegan Health Spray with Vitamin D3 and B12 (£14.95, available at Betteryou.com), and Sarah Chapman Skinesis Omega Booster, which provides a vegetarian source of Vitamin E, and fatty acids derived from sea buckthorn oil (£64, available at Lookfantastic.com)
Read more: The Skincare Ingredients To Know In 2019