Skin care is different for each of us. Some of you may struggle with dry skin while others may be on the opposite end of the spectrum with oily skin. It also tends to vary depending on where you live and what time of the year it is. Skin care is very much dependent on your genetics and lifestyle choices, the latter of which can be altered to help those struggling who have issues with their skin. This article lists some of my top recommendations for supplements for those struggling with their skin.
Skin quality primarily refers to facial skin and is an overall term that describes its following parameters: moisture content, tightness, and clearness from acne. Aside from genetics and where you live skin quality is largely due to two influences: aging and photoaging.
Aging, or natural aging, typically results in very fine wrinkles that appear over time. This is primarily due to the deterioration of collagen in one’s face, which is responsible for maintaining the overall tightness of facial features as well as providing additional structure. As collagen breaks down, the skin begins to loosen and it becomes more susceptible to bruising and blemishes. Keep in mind that this process occurs in everyone and starts being noticeable in your 30’s and 40’s.
A reduction in skin quality due to photoaging is similar to aging, though the mechanism is due to prolonged ultraviolet radiation (UV Rays) exposure. If you have ever been sunburnt, you have felt this process in action though the term is often referred to the accumulated damage over a longer period of time. The wrinkles that form due to photoaging are often more pronounced and noticeable, unlike the finer wrinkles that form due to natural aging.
The following supplements have been studied and are known to improve the quality of skin and help combat the effects of aging and photoaging:
Vitamin A (aka retinol), when used topically once a day (typically in the evening before bed), has been clinically proven to improve the quality of skin through notable reduction of wrinkles and help with dryness. It has also been shown to improve the pigmentation and elasticity of skin though in only three studies. The most commonly used formulation of Vitamin A that has been used in these studies is all-trans retinoic acid (ATRA), also known as Tretinoin. ATRA has been shown to increase collagen formation in the body and while suppressing the enzymes responsible for breaking down collagen. If you’re looking to improve the quality of your skin, start with Tretinoin as it has the most scientific evidence to support the improvement of skin quality.
Bladderwrack is a type of brown seaweed that is rich in fucoxanthin, a compound that has been previously studied to help with thyroid function and metabolism. Brown seaweed is typically present in many topical skin care products and it has been known to be a powerful antioxidant and very anti-inflammatory. The bioactive compounds that are responsible for these effects are known as L-fucose compounds and a lot of research is currently being done in this area. Bladderwrack works by enhancing the release of glycerol from far cells, which in turn stimulate the production of collagen. When supplementing with bladderwrack, you’re looking for products which have ‘fucoxanthin’, ‘fucoidins’, or ‘fucophlorethols’ on the label and it should be ingested with food as these compounds are fat soluble. Consider taking these with your fish oil and in doses of 500 – 4,000 mg.
Green Tea Catechins
If you’ve read some of my past articles, you’d know that I’m a big fan of green tea. The active ingredients in green tea, epigallocatechin-3-galate (EGCG), have been implicated in benefiting just about every organ in the body. Oral ingestion in 1400 mg doses have been shown to improve skin quality in addition to its plethora of health benefits. If you’re looking for a supplement to improve the quality of your skin which have properties to improve your general health, green tea should be on your list.
Pycnogenol is a special formulation of pine bark extract that has a 65 – 75% procyanidin content which are similar to catechins found in grean tea extract. Other sources of procyanidin are grape seed extract and cocoa. Similar to green tea extract, the pynogenol taken in doses of 100 – 200 mg twice a day have been shown to improve skin quality as well as providing a number of health benefits such as better cognition and increased blood flow. Pyxnogenol is typically more expensive than green tea due to its specific formula being patented. Try green tea extract before experimenting with this supplement and note the results before adding pycnogenol.
As you can imagine, an expansive range of things can affect the quality of your skin, much of which can be out of an individual’s control such as genetics and locale. Luckily, simple changes to nutrition and hygiene can influence skin quality to very significant degrees. I can’t stress enough the value of eating fruits and vegetables, particularly red colored vegetables and leafy greens. Including these in your diet with will go a long way to better skin quality (and improved health as well!). The biggest tip I got for skin care that had noticeable results came from a forum comment:
“Make sure your pillow cover is clean before you sleep at night. Either replace it with a fresh cover or put a clean towel over it daily.”
Skin Care Summary
Aging and photoaging (due to UV rays) are the primary influences on reduced skin quality. In order of effectiveness, the following supplements have been scientifically shown to improve the quality of skin: Vitamin A, bladderwrack, green tea extract, and pycnogenol. When trying supplements, remember to experiment with one at a time to maximize your dollars. Also remember that simple changes in nutrition and hygiene amount to very noticeable differences in skin quality. Hope this helps!