Three types of beauty supplements and how they might work for you

Editor's Note: The author is a licensed pharmacist.

If you watch TV, browse through magazines, or even simply pass roads hounded by billboards, I'm sure you've seen celebrity ads endorsing beauty supplements. Some admittedly look sketchy while others are made by big-name brands that have an established position in the beauty industry. We already know that vitamins are good for your skin, but these products often offer something a little different.

Most beauty supplements are actually combinations of vitamins, minerals, and other substances that claim to be good for your health and appearance. There are a many different kinds of beauty supplements but for the most part, they promise to work their in magic in at least one of these three categories:

General Beauty

If you don’t have any particular problems with your skin but want to take supplements for a healthier glow, hyaluronic acid is a popular option. Hyaluronic acid is a natural component of the skin and is present in connective tissue throughout the body. It enables our skin to retain moisture and strengthens the skin barrier to make it feel softer and smoother. It also helps skin problems like acne, sun damage, sensitivity, and inflammation.

You might have seen this in topical preparations such as toners, moisturizers, sheet masks, and even makeup, but taking it orally may give you more of the desired effects. It is said to help all skin types (yes, even oily-skinned gals), and has anti-aging effects.

This supplement is most commonly found in pill form, though a liquid version is available as well. Watsons has a combination of this and collagen, while Healthy Options carries several brands.

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Whitening products are so in-demand in our country, that’s why there are so many options available. Glutathione is the most popular but taking them as an oral supplement isn't effective because our bodies are unable to absorb them that way. If you choose to go this route, injectibles are still the best way to go.

Afraid of needles? Try some ellagic acid instead. It's an ingredient sourced from the pomegranate fruit, and it has the same mechanism of action as glutathione injectables. Ellagic acid inhibits the activity of tyrosinase, the enzyme for melanin production. Locally, you can find this in Heliocare Purewhite Radiance, which is only available at select dermatological clinics. What's interesting is that it also contains L-Cysteine, which is what our bodies can absorb and use to manufacture glutathione naturally.


Collagen is a protein found in our skin that helps keep it looking plump, smooth and youthful. However, our bodies produce less collagen as we age, which is why mature skin gets wrinkles and fine lines. Previously, there were debates about the absorption of oral collagen supplements in the body, with most saying that it is not well-absorbed, but newer studies are proving otherwise.

Aside from the usual pills and capsules, collagen can now be consumed as a juice drink. Liz has tried the Belo Nutraceuticals Collagen Powder Drink (available at Belo clinics and drugstores) and Sappe Beauti Drink (you can even find this at 7-11!). She only got to try them for a week though so it was long enough a period to see its full benefits.

As a pharmacist, it is not for me to make specific product recommendations so if you're thinking of adding a beauty supplement to your diet, make sure to check with your doctor first. Supplements aren't strictly regulated in the PH, and even if you do a lot of personal research online, available studies can be conflicting or insufficient so it's always wise to get a professional medical opinion. 

Unlike vitamins, there are no clear numbers similar to a recommended daily allowance, so make sure not to take more than what the brand recommends. Remember that even though something is all-natural, it can still be bad for your body if you take it unnecessarily. And if you notice any strange changes in your body, stop taking the supplements and seek medical attention.

Have tried any of these? How did it work out for you?

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