Skincare Supplements I Actually Take

By Minji

  • Despite the extreme popularity of skincare supplements today, there's still not enough data and plenty of controversy remains 
  • I don't take collagen supplements and instead focus on ingredients that are known to boost collagen production 
  • I also believe in consuming most nutrients through food instead of relying on supplements so my list is minimal

There are so many skincare supplements out in the market today.  Tiny little pills or sparkly powders that promise you clear and glowing skin.  If you’re an advocate of holistic skincare and believe skincare starts from the inside out, you might be even more tempted to give supplements a try. 

But alas, it seems there’s no clear evidence that any of these supplements can directly impact your skin in a positive way.  When you take supplements orally, they go through the digestive system and are broken down and absorbed in different ways so even if it’s the same ingredient, experts agree you can’t expect the same results you would with skincare products that are applied topically.

With all the murky data and controversy surrounding skincare supplements, instead of taking you through the science of things, I thought it might be more helpful if I listed out the supplements I actually take and the reasons why.  The data is unclear and everyone’s skin is different, so of course I’m not recommending you do exactly what I do, but hopefully it’s an extra data point you consider in your daily skincare regimen.

First, I want to let you know that I don’t take collagen supplements. This tends to shock everyone I know.  Since I’m obsessed with skincare, my friends usually tell me, of all the people they know, they thought I would surely be taking some collagen concoctions. 

There are several reasons I don’t, but the basic principle is, I would rather take ingredients that are known to boost collagen production than try to take collagen itself.  Collagen is a complex protein and can’t be absorbed by the body in its whole form. This means collagen proteins must be broken down into smaller amino acids before they can be absorbed, and even then, it’s unclear whether it’s being absorbed directly into your skin.

Dr. Yoon says, “in recent years, low-molecular-weight collagen products have emerged to increase human absorption, and some small-scale studies have shown that collagen supplements do have limited effects, but the evidence is unclear. As it's related to collagen products for consumption, marketing claims seem to be outpacing scientific proof. If your goal is to maintain healthy levels of collagen, it's much more important to protect your skin from the sun, eat a healthy diet, avoid smoking, and get enough sleep.”

For these reasons when choosing supplements, I focus on elements that are known to support collagen production and have ancillary health benefits besides just skincare.  I also believe in consuming most nutrients through food instead of relying on supplements so my list is minimal. 

These days I'm taking hyaluronic acid, vitamin C powder and omega-3.  These three elements are all supposed to help boost or protect the collagen in your skin and also have other health benefits.  Hyaluronic acid supplements have long been used for joint support, vitamin C is packed with antioxidants and can enhance your immune system and omega-3 is known to help keep the heart and brain healthy. 

Of course, these three supplements also come with their own controversy and cautionary tales, like all supplements that exist today.  However, based on research and trial and error, they are the three that I am willing to spend the extra dollars on. 

If you decide to add supplements to your skincare diet, make sure you think carefully about what might work for your unique philosophy.  There is no silver bullet and it's also important to make sure you’re buying from a brand you can trust!