5 Topical Vitamins That Make a Huge Difference in Your Skin’s Appearance

5 Topical Vitamins That Make a Huge Difference in Your Skin’s Appearance featured image
This article first appeared in the Summer 2021 issue of New Beauty. Click here to subscribe

Vitamins are essential to all living things, but they’re also critical for skin health. These five are pinpointed by the pros for delivering big benefits.

1 / 5

Vitamin Name: Vitamin A

What It Does: According to Monroe, LA dermatologist Janine Hopkins, MD, “Vitamin A, commonly known as retinol, binds to skin’s receptors in order to promote and enhance cell turnover, and repair to address concerns such as sun damage, acne, melasma, and even age-related collagen loss in the skin.”

What Makes It Different: “Vitamin A was the first vitamin approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a topical ingredient that actually changes the texture of the skin’s surface,” New York dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD says, praising the vitamin for treating acne and smoothing fine lines.

Where To Find It: Boscia 0.6% Pro-Retinol Repair and Renew Waterless Advanced Treatment ($48)

Inside Tip:
Mixing vitamins A, C and E together not only protects skin from UV damage, but also encourages healthy skin cell production.

2 / 5

Vitamin Name: Vitamin B3

What It Does: “Crucial for the development of cells in the body, vitamin B3, aka niacinamide, is a powerhouse for strengthening the lipid barrier,” says celebrity aesthetician Joanna Czech, explaining that the ingredient absorbs quickly and evenly into the skin because it is water-soluble.

What Makes It Different: Dr. Hopkins says vitamin B3 is her most-recommended vitamin for skin health, and she prescribes it for both oral and topical use. “The oral supplementation of niacinamide can reduce actinic keratoses and non-melanoma skin cancers,” she adds.

Where To Find It: Dermalogica Smart Response Serum ($135)

Inside Tip:
Niacinamide is often paired with salicylic acid to fight aggressive breakouts and keep pores clean and out of sight.

3 / 5

Vitamin Name: Vitamin B5

What It Does: Also known as pantothenic acid, “vitamin B5, a crucial B vitamin, helps soothe the skin and keep it soft and supple,” explains Saddle Brook, NJ dermatologist Fredric Haberman, MD. “It can also improve skin hydration and reduce moisture loss, acting as both a humectant and an emollient.”

What Makes It Different: Czech says vitamin B5 is known for its anti-inflammatory properties and ability to help the body break down fats. “Therefore, it’s involved in activating the proliferation of skin cells that are important in wound healing and it restores the function of the skin barrier.”

Where To Find It: The Feelist Total Package Youth Protecting Concentrate ($68)

Inside Tip:
When combined with sweet almond oil—full of vitamins A, B, D and E—vitamin B5 softens skin in a flash.

4 / 5

Vitamin Name: Vitamin B5

What It Does: One of the most well-studied vitamins you can use topically, vitamin C has a bevy of skin-care benefits. “It shields skin from environmental damage, brightens and evens skin tone, diminishes the appearance of fine lines, and supports collagen production,” says Czech.

What Makes It Different: Kate Oldham, SVP and GMM of beauty at Saks Fifth Avenue, says vitamin C is a perennial favorite among Saks beauty customers. “People love it because it not only brightens and reduces dark spots, but it is also highly recommended by dermatologists.”

Where To Find It: The Route The Day Drink ($50)

Inside Tip:
When combined with sweet almond oil—full of vitamins A, B, Vitamin C jives well with other antioxidants like green tea and vitamin E, which both boost the molecule’s stability.

5 / 5

Vitamin Name: Vitamin E

What It Does: Vitamin E exists in many skin-care formulas because “it improves skin hydration, acts as an antioxidant and guards the sensitive skin barrier,” says Dr. Haberman, who recommends the ingredient for daytime use in the form of a hydrating serum or light moisturizer.

What Makes It Different: “Vitamin E protects skin cell membranes from oxidation by free radicals, specifically when skin is hit by UV rays,” says Dr. Peredo, who explains that the vitamin works even better when combined with vitamin C. “It provides protection against UV-induced photodamage.”

Where To Find It: The Route The Paris Laundry The Everywhere Oil ($48)

Inside Tip:
When combined with sweet almond oil—full of vitamins A, B, Doctors often recommend vitamin E oil to help reduce the appearance of scars, though more scientific evidence is needed.

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