Skincare has taken the world by storm, and with good cause. There is indeed scientific evidence to ensure that it can be beneficial for the well-being of your skin. However, before tedious jargon overwhelms you, here we are with a dermatologists-backed simple breakdown for the uninitiated.
Before we delve into it, please remember the general rule of thumb - that skincare is not one-size-fit-all. So, what works for someone else might not work for you, and vice-versa. Also, please consult a skin expert before incorporating any of these in your daily routine. Now, without further ado, here they are - the ABC of skincare.
Vitamin A: Anti-Acne, Age-Delaying
“Vitamin A is available as retinol, retinoic acid and retinaldehyde - check the labels of your products for these words”Dr Rashmi Malik, Principal Consultant, Dermatology, Max Hospital, Gurgaon.
“Vitamin A helps in acne management by increasing the cell turnover rate. This property is used in acne management in teenagers by unplugging the keratin plugs in blackheads and whiteheads. It is the same property which is also used for an anti-aging effect as with each added year the cell turnover rate slows down. When an older person uses Vitamin A, it encourages the rate to increase again, helping the skin appear more youthful and toned with finer texture.”Dr Rashmi Malik, Principal Consultant, Dermatology, Max Hospital, Gurgaon.
However Dr Malik adds a word of caution when it comes to retinoids. They can increase the skin’s sensitivity to the sun and can also be very drying. This is why people should use a good moisturiser, start slowly and gradually increase the frequency and strength of application, with an expert’s guidance.
“Vitamin A is responsible for regulating the synthesis and maintaining thickness of the skin. It is essential for preventing its intrinsic ageing.”Dr Manjul Agarwal, Senior Consultant,Dermatology, Fortis Hospital, Shalimar Bagh
Vitamin B: Fights Hyperpigmentation, Calms Inflamed Skin
When looking for a product with Vitamin B, look for the word ‘niacinamide’ in your ingredient list, specifies Dr Malik, also reminding the consumer of its role in fighting hyperpigmentation.
“Vitamin B is an effective anti-inflammatory ingredient and hence helps in hyperpigmentation. It also plays an important role in reducing inflammation in acne and rosacea.”Dr Rashmi Malik
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Additionally, Dr Agarwal comments on the importance of the vitamin in your diet.
“Vitamin B is responsible for multiple internal processes taking place inside the skin and the lack of it can cause angular ulcers in the mouth, darkening of skin over the face and folds and diseases like pellagra.”
Vitamin C: Fights Ageing, Sun Damage, Supports Collagen Production
“Most skin care products are enriched with Vitamin C under different names and formulations. We should look for Ascorbic acid which is the active form of Vitamin C”, says Dr Manjul Agarwal. On its many uses and importance, she adds:
“The vitamin is essential for collagen synthesis and assisting in antioxidant protection against UV-induced photo damage and environmental pollution. It plays a great role in wound healing, and protects from darkening of the skin due to sun by reducing melanin synthesis.”Dr Manjul Agarwal
Dr Malik agrees with her on the uses of Vitamin C:
“Vitamin C helps to counter the ill effects of cumulative sun damage by stimulating collagen production which in turn helps to reduce sagging with age. It is also an antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage. It also has skin lightening properties and is hence included as part of the regimen for management of melasma and freckles.”Dr Rashmi Malik
When being used topically and externally, it should be stored in opaque bottles away from sunlight and direct light, adds Dr Malik.
It is an unstable compound which oxidises quickly and changes colour, often losing some of its efficacy.
Your Diet and the Big Three
While we have primarily discussed the topical application of these vitamins so far, here’s a quick look at their dietary importance too.
Dr Agarwal points out that “Vitamin A is fat-soluble and its intestinal absorption occurs best when foods rich in vitamin A are taken with fats.” The other two are water-soluble and therefore don’t require any specific dietary requirement for their absorption.
She further lists down some dietary sources for all of these three vitamins:
- dark green, leafy vegetables, for example amaranth (red or green), spinach
- orange-fleshed sweet potatoes
- yellow maize
- liver, eggs, milk (including breast milk)
- red palm oil or biruti palm oil
- liver and kidney
- chicken and red meat
- fish, such as tuna, mackerel, salmon
- shellfish, such as oysters and clams
- dark green vegetables, such as spinach and kale
- vegetables, such as beets and potatoes
- whole grains and cereals
- beans, such as kidney beans, black beans, and chickpeas
- nuts and seeds
- fruits, such as banana, and watermelon
- soy products, such as soy milk and tempeh
- green leafy vegetables
Things to Keep in Mind
While all of this is easy enough to accommodate little by little in your daily regime, it is important to always consult an expert first. Secondly, always do a patch test with any product, and introduce products slowly in your routine, never at once. This will allow you to see how well they are tolerated by your skin.