From Seven Seas to Centrum, taking vitamins with breakfast is a pretty natural thing for most of us, but no matter how many of those chewy orange tablets you eat, your body only delivers a small amount of these to your skin.
And that's where vitamin-infused skincare comes into play.
Every day, all manner of serums, moisturisers and cleansers are being formulated with the good stuff.
From vitamin A (a potent anti-ager) to vitamin E, which cleverly acts like a shield against complexion-ravaging UV rays and pollution, vitamin-enriched skincare contains way more than meets the eye.
We've enlisted some of the best experts in the business to explain exactly what each of those little letters does and why you should be squeezing them into your existing skincare routine.
Because it really pays to know your ABCs.
What Does Vitamin A Do For Your Skin?
If you're big on anti-ageing or suffer with spots, you're probably aware that vitamin A in its purest form is also known as star skincare ingredient retinol.
Favoured by dermatologists and facialists all over the globe, retinol's complexion-perfecting properties are second to none.
'Vitamin A or retinol is the gold standard in skin ageing,' says clinical facialist Kate Kerr. 'The reason this ingredient is so effective is that it is a cell-communicator. It attaches itself to skin cells and tells them to behave like younger, healthier versions of themselves.
'Retinol helps speed up cell turnover, thickening the dermis for plumper, younger looking skin and a brighter, more glowing complexion, and it really helps improve hyper-pigmentation, acne, large pores, lines and wrinkles.'
Would You Benefit From Vitamin A?
You're worried about ageing or want to iron away lines and wrinkles. It's also a fantastic treatment for those with acne and scars. 'Vitamin A deficiency can lead to other skin abnormalities like pigmentation and possible breakouts,' says Lorraine Scrivener, skin expert and director of the Eden Skin Clinic.
The Best Vitamin A Skincare Products To Buy Now:
- AlumierMD Retinol Resurfacing Serum 1.0, £75 www.alumiermd.co.uk
- Agera Retinol Rejuvenator 35, £65 www.dermacaredirect.co.uk
- The Ordinary Retinol 1%, £5.80 www.victoriahealth.com
What Does Vitamin B3 Do For Your Skin?
We're all familiar with skin resurfacing ingredients like Salicylic and Glycolic Acid but B3, otherwise known as Niacinamide, is also extremely effective in refining skin texture - and who doesn't want a flawless face?
'Vitamin B3 helps prevent and treat hyper-pigmentation by slowing down the transportation of melanin to the skin's surface,' says Kerr, 'and it's also effective in improving the skin's barrier function to maintain skin hydration.'
But that's not all.
'This particular vitamin also has an antibiotic effect,' says Kate, 'which means it improves skin congestion and acne breakouts, all whilst regulating sebum.'
Would Your Skin Benefit From Vitamin B3?
Your skin is dehydrated i.e. tight, sensitive, peppered with lines and lacks radiance.
B3 is also a must-have for those who suffer with blackheads and spots, thanks to its ability to control oil, and city dwellers will benefit from the antioxidant protection it lends skin against environmental aggressors like pollution.
The Best Vitamin B3 Skincare Products To Buy Now:
- SkinCeuticals Metacell Renewal B3, £100.80 www.skinceuticals.co.uk
- Oskia Bedtime Beauty Boost, £78 www.oskiaskincare.com
- Alpha-H Clear Skin Blemish Control Gel, £16 www.cultbeauty.co.uk
What Does Vitamin B12 Do For Your Skin?
Vitamin B12 is often overlooked in skincare, but according to Time Bomb chemist Dr. Joe Cincotta, it actually plays an important part in speeding up cell regeneration.
Bring on the science!
'Vitamin B12 works by binding to enzymes to help with chemical reactions in the body and the skin,' he says. 'When B12 is absorbed into the skin, it boosts metabolism in the skin cells and this energy speeds up cell recovery and regeneration. In turn, fatigued skin is improved.'
And according to experts, topical use of B12 delivers even better results than oral supplements.
'As much as 99% of what you swallow is not even absorbed,' says Dr. Cincotta, 'it just passes through your body, but continued use of topical vitamin B12 leads to thicker, firmer skin.'
Would Your Skin Benefit From Vitamin B12?
You're concerned about ageing. 'B12 reduces the signs of ageing skin by increasing the production of collagen, elastin and hyaluronic acid, which is nature's hydrating powerhouse,' says Dr. Cincotta.
The Best Vitamin B12 Products To Buy Now:
- Time Bomb Complexion Cocktail With A Shot of B12, £24.50 www.timebombco.com
- Nurse Jamie B12 Energy Shot, £16 www.cultbeauty.co.uk
- Karin Herzog Tonus B12 Toning Body Cream, £33 www.lookfantastic.com
What Does Vitamin C Do For Your Skin?
According to skin experts, if you're going to incorporate any vitamin into your skincare arsenal, it should be vitamin C, as it's ability to protect and strengthen the skin is second to none.
'Vitamin C is one of the most important skincare ingredients,' says Kerr, 'and it should be included in everyone's regime, from teens just starting out with skincare to those after strong anti-ageing benefits.
'It's one of the most potent antioxidants around, which means it not only helps shield the skin from free radical damage caused by environmental aggressors, but it increases protection against sun damage. In fact, a vitamin C-based serum with SPF50 is the foundation of all of my clients' day-time regimes.'
And even though we can easily get vitamin C from various fruits, vegetables and supplements, it's especially important that your skincare boasts a dose of the all-rounder, too.
'Using it topically is essential as it gets to the skin cells directly to boost collagen and elastin and to reduce wrinkles,' says Margo Marone, co-founder of The Organic Pharmacy.
Would Your Skin Benefit From Vitamin C?
More or less everyone will benefit from a vitamin C serum or cream, especially those who are keen to guard their skin from ageing UV rays and pollutants which can zap a complexion of its natural glow.
You might also find vitamin C beneficial if you suffer with hyper-pigmentation, too.
'It also has a profound effect on our melanin producing cells,' says Donna Tait, co-founder of Katherine Daniels Cosmetics, something which The Organic Pharmacy's Margo seconds. 'It prevents pigmentation damage and has an energising effect which gives skin back its radiance, its even tone and its luminosity.'
The Best Vitamin C Skincare Products To Buy Now:
- The Organic Pharmacy Antioxidant Face Serum, £84 www.theorganicpharmacy.com
- Murad Essential-C Day Moisture SPF 30, £55 www.murad.co.uk
- Katherine Daniels Repairing Nourishing Mask, £27.40 www.katherinedanielscosmetics.com
What Does Vitamin D Do For Your Skin?
Vitamin D is synthesised in the skin when exposed to sunlight, but topical vitamin D works differently - and facialist Kate Kerr believes it's something that shouldn't be missed out of your skincare line-up.
'Vitamin D is another great antioxidant that protects against free radicals, but it also helps to calm inflammation,' she says.
Would Your Skin Benefit From Vitamin D?
You suffer from acne or sensitive skin. 'Vitamin D has been shown in studies to minimise acne lesions and to improve eczema and dermatitis,' reveals Kerr, but as Lorraine mentions, it is always important to consult your doctor before self-treating a skin condition.
The Best Vitamin D Products To Buy Now:
- Zelens Power D High Potency Provitamin D Treatment Drops, £110 www.lookfantastic.com
- Dr. Brandt XYY Power Dose D Sunshine Vitamin Face Serum, £47 www.lookfantastic.com
- Farmacy Eye Dew, £33 www.cultbeauty.co.uk
What Does Vitamin E Do For Your Skin?
Vitamin E is a hero ingredient in the beauty sphere, especially for those who suffer with ultra-dry and sensitive skin, but it's also one of the best antioxidants out there.
'Vitamin E never fails to deliver softer, more hydrated skin,' says Lorraine. 'It's so intensely moisturising and this keeps the skin looking and feeling plump and smooth, but the best part is that it also contains effective antioxidants which are known for protecting against pollution and other environmental stressors.'
And teamed with vitamin C, it is even more powerful.
'Vitamin E works with vitamin C to neutralise these free radicals,' explains Kerr, 'and this prevents the tissue damage that leads to premature ageing.'
Would Your Skin Benefit From Vitamin E?
Your current moisturiser or serum is doing nothing to quench your parched patches, or you're looking to pollution-proof your skincare kit.
Vitamin E acts like armour against those pesky free radicals that embed themselves in your skin and work to dull your youthful glow.
The Best Vitamin E Products To Buy Now:
- The Body Shop Vitamin E Moisture Cream, £13 www.thebodyshop.com
- Jo Malone Vitamin E Day Creme SPF 15, £54 www.jomalone.co.uk
- SkinCeuticals CE Ferulic, £129 www.skinceuticals.co.uk
What Does Vitamin K Do For Your Skin?
Vitamin K is a bit of an unsung skincare hero but it's especially effective in products like eye cream because of its coagulant properties.
In other words, it prevents blood clots from forming by boosting blood circulation, and this minimises those unsightly dark circles.
Would Your Skin Benefit From Vitamin K?
Under-eye circles are the bane of your life or you are prone to skin redness and purpling due to broken capillaries. 'It's a great anti-inflammatory and is good for skin recovery,' says Donna.
The Best Vitamin K Products To Buy Now:
- Peter Thomas Roth Power K Eye Rescue, £67.25 www.beautybay.com
- Dermaceutic K Ceutic Post Treatment Cream SPF 50, £36 www.dermacaredirect.co.uk
- Sesederma K-VIT Dark Circle Serum, £33.60 www.sesederma.co.uk