Frequently asked questions about beauty and skin supplements


Nutrients for Skin

When it comes to topical beauty products, the effects of the ingredients they contain can be more than just skin deep! The beauty industry has had an ugly secret for a long time as most products—both “organic” and regular—contain chemicals that may do you more harm than good. When it comes to these products, the regulation of what “natural” or “organic” means is a bit complex. In most cases, you may find that these topical products deliver short-term brightness and smoothness, but in reality, they may be disrupting your hormones, aging your skin, delivering dangerous toxins to your body, and possibly exposing you to serious conditions, such as skin cancer. That’s right. The topical beauty products you use may actually damage your skin speeding up the formation of age spots, wrinkles, acne, and worse. Even though some products such as sunscreens protect you from harmful UV rays, they may bring about adverse health issues (1).

Most people tend to apply topical products on the face, so while improving the skin on the face, we neglect other areas. You have to understand that your skin is the largest organ in your body covering every part of it. Beauty from the ‘inside-out’ helps cultivate entire skin without concentrating on limited sections. With this approach, your skin inclines to achieve uniformity in terms of suppleness, brightness, and smoothness. Besides, topical products don’t penetrate the inner layer of your skin, the dermis, meaning that their effect doesn't go beyond the outer surface of your skin. Dermatologists argue that, even if topical products’ ingredients make it past the epidermis, only a tiny percentage (e.g. 2% of CoQ10) pass through to the dermis where it is needed the most.

The sun also has the ability to break down most of these topical products which means that you have to keep applying several times during the day. If it’s not the sun, sweating and clothing will also shed off most layers of the applied topical product leaving your skin exposed to skin-damaging agents. Many topical products also include carcinogens—a substance that is capable of causing cancer in living tissues. This could be part of the reason why cancer cases have risen drastically among those applying beauty lotions habitually. One study also found that some topical beauty products contain harmful metals (2). Did you also know that most of the ingredients used in these products are also used in industrial processes to grease gears, stabilize pesticides and clean industrial equipment? That’s correct. The synthetic chemicals used in beauty products are so strong they can clean most industrial equipment, so we can all agree that ingredients that can effectively sour metals may not be the best choice for our skins?!

The regulation of topical skin care and beauty products are not very rigorous by the federal agencies compared to food and drugs. It is important to carefully look at the ingredients on cosmetic products, the same way you do with food labels. So back to answering the question—not all skin care topical ingredients are safe for us! The industry is still unregulated that you cannot always the claims that most manufacturers place on their products. Some of these topical products are filled with steroids that could end up giving you detrimental side effects (3). The definitions of the word “organic” or “natural” could mean different things in different industries (food, drugs, skin care, etc.). Manufacturers are only supposed to use such labels if the ingredients are “certified organic,” but there are instances where manufacturers use prases and claim a product is “made with organic.” Such a statement could mean that the product may contain 75% organic ingredients, and 25% of harmful chemicals.

You should always read the list of ingredients since some could be extremely bad news for your skin and your general health. Most of these harmful ingredients are endocrine disruptors, skin penetrators, skin irritants, and are carcinogenic. There are plenty of such ingredients, and it’s impossible to pinpoint them all here, but here is a list of some that can be extremely detrimental:

  • Silicone derived emollients —used in many topical creams to give them a ‘soft feel.’ You should keep off such an ingredient as it is said to prevent your skin from breathing and may have also been linked to skin irritation and tumor growth.
  • Polyethylene glycol (PEG) —an ingredient used as a penetration enhancer in most cosmetics. It contains two well-known carcinogens; ethylene oxide and 1, 4-dioxane. Keep off!
  • Parabens— used in many skin care topicals such as creams and lotions as a preservative. It may be linked to endocrine disruption, cancer, and fertility issues.
  • Oxybenzone —used in most topical sunscreens. Some studies have linked it to low birth weight, cellular damage, hormone disruption, and allergies.
  • Mineral oil —found in most skin moisturizers. This ingredient may impair your skin's ability to release toxins.
  • Hydroquinone —used in most skin whitening products. It may be one of the most toxic skin ingredients in skin products and banned in several countries. It is possibly linked to reproductive toxicity and cancer.
  • Propylene glycol —this ingredient is used in most skin conditioning products. It is classified as a skin penetrator and irritant. It has been known to be linked with hives and dermatitis in humans. It may also be found in many sunscreens and moisturizers.
  • Fragrance/Parfum —fragrance is found in most cosmetics and is a catchall for hidden toxins such as phthalates. This ingredient is possibly connected to issues such as allergies, asthma, dizziness, and headaches.

These are just a few small samples of harmful ingredients that are available in topical beauty products. The list can go on and on, and it is impossible to completely avoid some of these synthetic chemicals.

Ingestible or beauty antioxidants are a one way to provide nutrition to the entire skin from within. A smart dermatologist would tell you that ‘you are what you eat.’ What this means is that our skin is the fingerprint of what happens inside our body. A recent study shows that if you eat healthy food, it will reflect on your skin, and the reverse is true when you eat unhealthy foods (4). Antioxidants found in vegetables, herbs, seafood, and fruits (among other foods), help your body fight free radicals and can protect you from most skin issues. This is a holistic treatment to supply nutrients to the entire body’s skin to ensure that you achieve a uniform, vibrant skin. You can obtain larger quantities of these antioxidants from natural foods, superbly prepared supplements, or from prescribed capsules.

Nutritional status plays a major role in the maintenance of healthy skin. Numerous rigorous studies have proven that there is a huge link between skin and nutrition (5). Changes in your nutritional status that alter your skin’s structure and function can directly affect your skin’s appearance. There is also a lot of important new research that shows the power of antioxidants in determining the way your skin feels and looks—and even how well it ages. To do these, such nutrients have to be broken down into essential components once they are ingested into the body in form of foods. Enzymes and digestive bacteria in your guts are solely responsible for ensuring food components are broken down into molecules; such molecules travel into the small intestines where they are then absorbed into the bloodstream to benefit your skin and entire body.

According to one scientific study, we achieve a healthy, radiant skin from the consumption of certain minerals, vitamins, and other beneficial compounds (5, 6). There are nutrients that are known better for playing a role in immunity of the skin, some for proper growth, and some for treating major skin issues. Most nutrients are crucial for your skin radiance and general health, but the following are the most important:

Vitamin C— could be one of the most powerful antioxidants out there. It is known for its helpfulness in the synthesis of collagen—an important protein that makes your skin supple ( 7 ). It has also been used to prevent changes associated with photo aging (8).

Vitamin A—this vitamin may be crucial for skin repair and maintenance ( 9 ). If you have a dry or flaky skin, you might be suffering from Vitamin A deficiency.

Vitamin E—is known to be one of the key components for healthy skin. It can help fight free radicals that damage your skin and speed up skin aging by possibly causing wrinkles ( 10 , 11). It is known to work best when combined with vitamin A.

Zinc—this is an essential trace mineral that can help in healing wounds and repairing damaged tissues (12). Besides, it may help in many other physiological functions such as cell division, which are also important to your skin. Solid studies have also suggested that zinc may prevent and reduce acne.

Omegas-3s—these Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs) could be vital in healing inflammatory conditions such as eczema. They could also maintain your skin’s suppleness and reduce wrinkle formation. Studies have also shown that these fatty acids protect your skin from ultraviolet radiation (UVR) (13).

Nutrients are obtained from our daily foods and you may only need to know the right combinations to achieve the right balance. They're those foods that are filled with vitamins, others are loaded with omegas, and others with minerals. All these food components could be essential in one way or another in ensuring that you achieve a beautiful, glowing, and blemish-free skin. You can obtain vitamins, antioxidants, minerals, and other nutrients directly from vegetables, fruits, herbs, seafood, liver, and eggs among many others. You can also acquire these nutrients directly from food supplements and capsules as prescribed by the healthcare practitioners.

Major skin nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, and essential fatty acids will not only enhance your natural beauty; they can also help curtail inflammation, acne, wrinkles, and other skin-related problems. You do not need to move mountains to obtain these nutrients as they are sitting right in your grocery store! The following are the food sources from which you can obtain major skin nutrients including Vitamin C, Vitamin E, Vitamin A, Zinc, and Omega-3s.

  • Vitamin C— is known to help in the production of collagen and other elements required to make your skin supple ( 7 ). You can obtain this nutrient from food sources such as cucumber, Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, cauliflower, and broccoli. Most fruits are also filled with this nutrient, so feel free to fill up your grocery cart with a variety.
  • Vitamin E— may help in fighting free radicals that damage your skin ( 10 ). You can acquire it from foods such as wheat germ, leafy greens, sunflower seeds, olives, almonds, and peanuts.
  • Vitamin A— is linked to making your skin retain moisture to avoid dryness. Natural food sources include milk, carrots, liver, eggs, leafy greens, pumpkins, and many others.
  • Zinc— can help in the repair of damaged tissues and is known to aid in wound healing ( 12 ). You can obtain zinc from foods such as poultry and red meat, whole grains, seafood, nuts, and beans.
  • Omega-3s— are linked to diminishing inflammatory effects and fighting UV rays ( 13 ). You can obtain these EFAs from foods such as spinach, soybeans, seafood, fatty fish, fish roe, walnuts, chia seeds, fish oil, and flax seed among others.

It can be challenging to get all the necessary nutrients for your skin from your daily meals. There is a chance that even if you practice a healthy, well-balanced diet, you might still fall short of essential nutrients for your skin. This may be brought about by a number of factors. First, when you cook your food, its nutrients may lose the efficacy. You might have heard it from nutritionists that you “shouldn’t overcook your meals as you may ‘kill’ the important nutrients” well, this is true! Second, you have to eat high quantities of certain foods just to get the right amount of nutrients they have to offer. For instance, to get 10 mg of lycopene, you have to consume 10 broccoli buds or 5 tomatoes.

Third, improper farming practices may also deplete the soil (and eventually the foods) the essential minerals and nutrients (14, 15). For instance, when plants are grown on the same land over and over again, the soil can lose microbes, minerals, and vitamins faster than they can be replaced, meaning that such crops have fewer nutrients to grow. Besides, fertilizers only contain enough nutrients for the plants to grow, but not enough to support human health. Pesticides, fertilizers, and radiation tend to taint our foods. Vegetables, fruits, and other food sources are also seasonal, and availability tends to be an issue. So it is correct to say that we probably don’t get consistent nutrients from our daily meals.

Dietary supplements can be used as one of the ways to bridge your nutritional needs when your daily foods fall short. Besides, this is an accurate way to ensure that you are taking just the right balance of nutrients. Did you know even taking too much of some nutrients can be bad for your health? That is true. Excessive intake of some nutrients such as Vitamin A can lead to dangerous, toxic levels that can bring detrimental effects to your body. Supplements are particularly important for vegans or vegetarians who eat a limited variety of foods. If you have had surgery on your guts and you are unable to absorb nutrients into your bloodstream properly, supplementation is often highly recommended. Nutrient absorption is also known to decline with age ( 16), therefore, the older you get the more you need nutrients as supplements. Getting the right kinds of foods to obtain the required nutrients is also sometimes challenging. Therefore, supplements can come in handy when availability and bio-availability of nutrients becomes a challenge.

It depends on the ingredients and dosage of the multivitamins. Understanding what is beneficial for your skin and doing a comparison of the ingredients of your multivitamin will be the first step. In general, most multivitamins don’t include sufficient antioxidants to address your area of concern. For example, a product may be an assortment of vitamins such as Vitamin K, D, E, A, B and fall under multivitamin category but may not contain necessary nutrients for your skin. Most multivitamins may be idyllic for your workout goals or weight loss, but they may be insufficient when it comes to keeping your skin in an awe-inspiring shape. Depending on your age, the condition of your skin, you may need nutrients known to help skin such as Vitamin C, A, Vitamin E, and Beta-Carotene when it comes to dealing with skin issues.

There has been a number of clinical studies that have shown that beauty comes from the inside. Numerous research has connected the link between general inner-health status and outward appearance of your skin (17). This is the reason why flavonoids, tocopherols, carotenoids, vitamins, antioxidants, and other plant extracts have widely been used in skin care industries either as oral supplements or topically applied agents in an attempt to make your skin glow. Dr. Taylor MD, FAAD, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at the College of Physicians and Surgeon at Columbia University in New York believes that there is no doubt that nutrients have a tremendous impact on how our skin looks and feels. Many dermatologists will also tell you that the best way to treat your skin is through a holistic approach that addresses skin conditions from the ‘inside-out’ using skin nutrients such as vitamins, minerals, essential fatty acids, and other compounds. This study shows the effectiveness of nutrients to our bodies, but if we begin to list all the studies that prove the effectiveness of skin nutrients, we’ll spend eternity. There exists categorically many!

Nutrients to Control Acne

Your skin has tiny pores which can sometimes be blocked by dirt, dead skin cells, bacteria, or oil. When this happens, you may develop a “zit” or what we commonly call a “pimple.” If your skin pores are frequently blocked, you may develop many pimples, a condition we normally refer to as acne. Several studies have frequently link acne with hormonal changes (18), but as we see below, acne can be caused by several other factors including:

  • Puberty— teenage acne is majorly caused by increased levels of a hormone called testosterone.
  • Bacteria— when bacteria building up on your pores you may develop acne.
  • Excessive oil —your skin follicles are responsible for producing oil. When this is done profusely, it may result in acne ( 19 ).
  • Dead skin— when dead skin accumulates in your pores, acne may develop.
  • Genetic orientation— acne runs in families. Studies show that if both your parents had acne, there is a high chance that you may also develop the same. If one or both of your parents have adult acne, you may also develop acne during your adulthood.
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome— this is a common condition for women which can bring about acne and weight gain ( 20 ).
  • Menstruation period— some women develop acne just before their menstrual cycle.
  • Pregnancy— it is common for women to develop acne during the early stages of their pregnancy.
  • Certain medication— some medications may also cause acne. For example, lithium which used to treat bipolar disorder and depression.
  • Processed foods— yes, some processed foods may cause acne because they often contain compounds that promote oxidative stress and inflammation which causes acne breakout ( 19 ).
  • Smoking— several studies associate smoking with adult acne among older people (21).
  • Some cosmetic products may also trigger acne formation.


No. What causes acne is pretty much the same regardless of how old you are. When dead skin, excessive sebum (the oily, waxy substance your skin oozes), and dead skin block your pores, you will develop acne no matter how old you are. Some are tiny and near the surface (e.g. blackheads and whiteheads) and are easy to eradicate, but some are severe and deep in the skin (e.g. nodules and cysts) and are tougher to exterminate. The only difference between teen acne and adult acne is that teen acne is commonly focused on the face and neck, and is often related to hormonal changes that occur naturally during puberty. Conversely, adult acne can be brought about by environmental factors, diet, medications, and bodily changes during pregnancy and menstruation (22). Adult acne tends to center more on the lower parts of the face, around the chin, as well as along the jawline.

There are over 32 nutrients that are considered absolutely essential for human health, but there is a classic group of vitamins and minerals that are believed to be specifically vital for clearing adult acne. Below are six nutrients that are considered beneficial by many dermatologists when it comes to fighting adult acne:

Vitamin C— is proven to strengthen the structure of your skin and healing the wounds and spots left behind by acne (23). Filling your body with this essential nutrient will accelerate the rate at which your acne clears up.

Vitamin A—this nutrient is excellent in reducing your skin’s oil output. Vitamin A, however, should be taken at a safe dose because it is linked to some dangerous side effects. A safe dose can improve several body conditions that cause acne.

Vitamin E— is known to be used for unblocking clogged pores and restoring your skin's radiance. A certain study shows that vitamin E deficiency leads to acne breakout (24). So the less vitamin E intake may mean higher chances of developing acne.

Zinc—this mineral is believed to be remarkable when it comes to fighting existing adult acne and diminishing chances of new ones developing. Of all the nutrients available to fight acne, zinc is the most firmly backed by scientific studies.

Selenium—like zinc, selenium is also a powerful mineral that has the ability to fight adult acne. It helps your body produce a compound called glutathione, which can fight acne. A lot of studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of selenium in dealing with acne (25).

You should always consult a healthcare practitioner when starting or changing your treatments for acne. They may recommend you topicals and a combination regimen of essential nutrients to work from the inside-out. Topicals may only address your acne on the surface without addressing the root causes. Nutrients, on the other hand, can go skin deep and help with the underlying causes to your acne problems.

No, dietary supplements do not require FDA approval. Supplements are however regulated by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) through the FTC Act and the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA) as well as Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA).

In addition, FDA requires the manufacturers to manufacture supplements following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) to ensure supplements are produced in a quality manner and are accurately labeled. The FTC monitors and pursues deceptive, false and misleading advertising. The FDA is charged with inspecting manufacturing facilities, reviewing labeling and monitoring products for safety.

Yes, chocolate and milk have been shown to have an effect on acne by a few studies. For example, according to a study conducted among women in Portugal, tobacco smoking and consumption of whole milk, and excessive intake of calories cause adult acne (26). Milk tends to have anabolic hormones—some of which are similar to the ones used by body builders to build muscles. These hormones are mostly androgens and are responsible for causing acne. Numerous studies have also linked chocolate consumption to worsening acne. According to a certain study, dark chocolate is particularly worse as it exacerbates acne more than other types (27).

Milk and chocolate are not the only foods that could worsen acne, for those with acne-prone skins, you should also keep off certain kinds of foods. Most studies assert that adult acne is specifically associated with Western diet, high calorie intake, high glycemic load, and dairy (28). For example, sugar, in most foods, is responsible for aggravating hormonal acne. Insulin and IGF-1 are connected to blood sugar levels and the more you consume sugar, the higher your blood sugar levels, the more likely you will develop acne. Sugar is practically sebum! Keep off such foods if you want to break your acne curse.

Photoprotective Nutrients

wrong with Sunscreen

Sunscreens are intended to protect your skin from UV rays through their active agents. Despite the fact that sunscreen protects your skin, they have several limitations. The effect of most sunscreens wear off after a diminutive period due to swimming and sweating, calling for reapplications every 60-90 minutes. It is not always practical to do this, especially if you are engaging in outdoor activities like swimming. Some studies have also connected sunscreen with toxicity levels that can be harmful to human health (29). Many sunscreens contain chemical substances like oxybenzone, parabens, and cinoxate among others, which are carcinogenic meaning that they can put you at risk of developing cancer. So despite the fact that topical sunscreens may protect you from harmful UV rays, they may expose you to other detrimental health conditions.

According to studies, photo-protective nutrients can be used as a supplement and may be taken a few hours before you step outdoors into a hot sunny day. Such nutrients are normally ingested to guard your body against the harmful rays in addition to wearing a broad spectrum sunscreen. You may wonder how this is possible. Right? Sunburn is a type of inflammation that can be controlled effectively using some nutrients ( 30). As such, photo-protective foods can be much more important than slathering topical sunscreens. Besides, some of these nutrients can soothe your sunburn in case you miss taking them before you hit the door. Photo-protective nutrients can be obtained from foods that are rich in antioxidant and other compounds such as polyphenols, which possess substantial ability when it comes to protecting your skin from sunburn. You can obtain such compounds directly from their natural sources almonds, Swiss chard, broccoli, bell pepper, eggplants, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, kale, red cabbage, and berries among others. Some of these nutrients can be obtained in the form of supplements and taken as recommended by a health practitioner.

Unlike topical sunscreen products which can be shed off through sweating and swimming, photo-protective nutrients tend to last longer in the body according to some of the studies. So when you are heading out on the summer days, load up on these nutrients and limit your exposure and they will assist in keeping you safe from the harmful rays. But you should understand that excessive exposure to sunlight can still cause sunburn regardless, so wear light clothes and seek a shelter.

Yes! The recommendation is to use sunscreen always when you are exposed to sun. The nutrients considered as "photo-protective" may be used as a supplement as there are limitations for the topical sunscreen products, i.e. water, sweat, the frequency of application, etc. The effect of these nutrients has been known to work when used in conjunction with a broad spectrum sunscreen (3). We also recommend that you avoid excessive exposure to sunlight especially during the months of summer. You should also consider wearing a light cloth and sheltering yourself under a parasol.

There are some studies that show that photo-protective nutrients may help protect you from sunburns. For example, optimizing blood levels of Vitamin D may have a protective effect against skin cancer and sunburn (31). Taking about 5,000 IU of Vitamin D3 a day may protect you against harmful UV rays. Another study shows that a daily intake of a certain highly potent antioxidant called ‘astaxanthin’ can protect you from sunburn (32). This compound has been known to act as an internal sunscreen and is also considered as an anti-aging supplement. Other studies show that antioxidants such as vitamin E and C could also guard the skin from sunburns.