The peaks and pitfalls of beauty supplements

How your skin looks is often a reflection of your inner health, but sometimes it can be quite a challenge to be in perfect shape. Chalk it up to the stress from work, exposure to pollution, the convenience of fast food, or busy schedules that take time away from sleep and exercise. Living a healthier lifestyle, whether for beauty purposes or not, should be our common goal, of course. There are no shortcuts for getting healthy but can beauty supplements help to improve the state of your skin?

Taking beauty supplements is something we don’t talk a lot about here in Project Vanity. It’s a difficult topic to tread because we all have unique health concerns and conditions, so if you do decide to try beauty supplements, we absolutely INSIST that you get your doctor’s approval first. Being able to purchase a supplement from reputable store doesn’t necessarily guarantee that it is safe to use!

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Unless a product claims to treat, prevent, or cure diseases, which isn’t the case for beauty supplements, then FDA regulations are a lot less strict about market approvals. Unlike drugs, supplements need not be proven true to their claims before hitting the shelves. This is why many make exorbitant claims that sound too good to be true. Worse, supplements can actually do more harm than good as certain vitamins can be liver-toxic in excess. Without strict regulation, brands may also charge outrageous prices for generic ingredients dressed in fancy marketing. As with skincare and cosmetics, reading the label always pays off!

That’s not to say that the beauty supplement industry is evil. It has its dark corners, sure, but there are vitamins that are well backed by scientific studies to help improve skin, hair, and nail health when taken orally. Even so, it’s important to understand that dermatologists don’t really recommend them to healthy people. 

Unless your skin concerns are caused by vitamin, mineral, or nutrient deficiencies, beauty supplements might not help you at all. You really need to check with your doctor about whether your issues are caused by gaps in your health, or may be triggered by a different medical condition. Beauty supplements will also do little to address poor skincare habits, reactions to allergies, hormonal imbalance, or something else that might be more serious.

So what works?

As for science’s vote for ingredients that can do your skin good, collagen, vitamin C, omega 3s, and biotin or vitamin B7 are pretty safe bets within the recommended daily allowance (RDA). Studies show that collagen has beneficial effects in anti-aging by improving and retaining skin elasticity and moisture. Meanwhile, vitamin C can improve collagen synthesis, as well as assist in antioxidant protection and addressing UV photodamage. The fatty acid omega 3 is said to improve the skin’s resilience against sun damage as well as improve psoriasis. For vitamin B7 deficient individuals, biotin supplements can help reduce hair loss.

If you’re seriously interested to try beauty pills, first check the local FDA website to see if your supplement is registered and whether you’re getting it at legitimate sources. Similar to skincare and cosmetics, knockoff supplements unfortunately also plague the market, so it’s best to be extra cautious of where you’re sourcing the supplements from. The FDA seal of approval means that there are no ingredients in a supplement that’s proven to be harmful for general public consumption. However, certain ingredients in supplements may still not be safe for you.

If you belong to certain groups like children, adolescents, the elderly, people who are critically ill, pregnant, breast-feeding, or have certain medical conditions, note that product research on these subjects are often lacking so a one-on-one consult with a doctor should determine whether or not a supplement is safe for intake. Consult with a health professional to determine your needs and proper dosage. Good ingredients in the wrong doses, like biotin for example, can backfire on your health goals.

Bottom line: Whether beauty supplements are a yay or a nay depends entirely on your needs and skin issues! Arming yourself with information on supplements is a good thing but as always, it’s best to consult with a medical professional to see if they’re a right fit.

Sources: National Center for Biotechnology Information, US FDA, DOH Philippines, Into The Gloss, Vox

Product photography by Denise Bengzon