Which one should I use for my skin?

Struggling with acne? Need to banish wrinkles and dark spots? Or is your goal to have smooth, glowing and hydrated skin? There’s a vitamin for all your skincare needs, so here’s which one is best for you.

If you asked me five years ago if I was applying niacinamide, retinol or glycolic acid to my skin, or questioned if I was drinking collagen or adaptogen daily, I would have looked at you as though you were talking complete and utter gibberish.

Now, I wouldn’t even think to skip a day where I don’t use one, or a few, of these products.

While most people are pretty well-versed with the dictionary of skincare ingredients now widely available, it’s important you educate yourself on what each one is before investing in one and applying it to your skin. And this is especially the case when it comes to vitamins, most notably vitamins A, B, C and E.

For example, would you know which one is best for curing acne? Eliminating wrinkles? Removing dark spots? Or hydrating the skin?

We asked Pharmacist and La Roche-Posay Scientific Communications Manager Rachel McAdam to explain what vitamins you should be using depending on your skin concerns and goals.

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Vitamins A, B, C and E: Which one should I use for my skin?

Vitamin A

What does vitamin A do to the skin?

Vitamin A derivatives in skincare include ingredients such as retinol, retinal, and retinol esters (eg. retinol palmitate). Derivatives of vitamin A are very effective anti-aging ingredients as they can play a role in improving the skin tone by regulating cell turnover.

Vitamin A derivatives may also increase the skin’s elasticity by improving collagen and elastin levels. We do need appropriate concentrations of the ingredient for a visible effect to take place however, so look for retinol concentrations of at least 0.1 per cent ideally combined with the slower release retinol esters to increase results without irritation.

When should you use vitamin A?

It is best to use topical forms of vitamin A at night. This is to both ensure the ingredients don’t degrade easily upon exposure to light, and also to reduce the skin’s sensitivity to UV light.

How do you use vitamin A?

Apply to clean, dry skin before bed time. If your skin can tolerate it, use it every night, otherwise on alternate nights.

Since retinol or vitamin A can increase cell turnover, it works very well with an ingredient that protects and calms the skin’s barrier. A perfect example is niacinamide. AKA vitamin B3.

Are there any downsides to vitamin A?

The more potent or the more frequently you use the vitamin A ingredient, the more chance of having mild peeling, sometimes redness. If it is mild, it often resolves as the skin adapts to the effects of the vitamin A.

Who should use vitamin A?

Skin that has a had a bit of sun damage. It’s also suitable for targeting fine lines, uneven skin tone and brown spots.

Body+Soul love: Alpha-H Vitamin A 0.5, $69.95 at Adore Beauty and The Ordinary Retinol 0.5% in Squalene, $9.80 at Priceline.

Vitamin B

What does vitamin B do to the skin?

There are two main forms of vitamin B found in skincare (B3: niacinamide and B5: panthenol) Think of niacinamide as the skin all-rounder. It is shown to balance excess oil, improve skin hydration, calm and soothe the skin and also can boost skin luminosity and evenness. Whilst vitamin B5 is the healing and soothing vitamin. It can also help with skin regeneration.

When should you use vitamin B?

Both B3 and B5 can be used anytime as often as needed.

They go with almost any ingredients within products that have a relatively neutral pH. They give the best results when paired with stimulating ingredients such as retinol or hyroxy-acids to counteract any drying or peeling. But the products may need to be kept separate such as in the case of acids.

How do you use vitamin B?

Apply to clean dry skin within your serum or moisturiser.

Are there any downsides to vitamin B?


Who should use vitamin B?

Anyone that needs a skin booster for all round hydration and a soothed complexion.

Body+Soul love: La Roche-Posay Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Serum Anti-Wrinkle Concentrate, $55.99 at Priceline and Clear Skincare Vitamin B3 Serum, $45 at Priceline.

Vitamin C

What does vitamin C do to the skin?

Derivatives of Vitamin C usually have the words ascorbic or ascorbyl in the name of the actual skincare ingredient. Ascorbic acid is the pure form of vitamin C and it is another star ingredient due to its skin benefits when applied topically. It has been shown to increase plumpness in the skin due to its role in collagen synthesis as well as acts as a potent water soluble anti-oxidant. This means it can protect the skin from some of the free-radicals we are naturally exposed to daily. Vitamin C also increases skin luminosity.

When should you use vitamin C?

Anytime, but you will get the most out of it if used in your morning routine. This allows the vitamin C to help counter act daily aggressors such as pollution.

Vitamin C is on the acidic side so requires a slightly acidic vehicle. Therefore, if you are to use another non-acidic active, use a separate product. I like to use retinol at night and vitamin C in the morning for the ideal anti-ageing team.

How do you use vitamin C?

Apply to clean dry skin with your serum or moisturiser. It is best to use in concentrations of at least five per cent, ideally 10 per cent.

Are there any downsides to vitamin C?

In some cases it can turn orangey-brown due to natural oxidation. It can also have a scent.

Who should use vitamin C?

Anyone wishing to have an anti-oxidant in their routine and people looking to increase skin plumpness and radiance.

Body+Soul love: Ole Henriksen Truth Serum, $70 at Sephora and Biossance Squalene + Vitamin C Rose Oil, $112 at Sephora.

Vitamin E

What does vitamin E do to the skin?

Within skincare, vitamin E normally appears as the ingredient tocopherol. It is an oil soluble antioxidant that plays a role in picking up free radicals and protecting the skin from damage, as well as supporting skin repair. It can also work well with vitamin C to create a synergistic anti-oxidant team.

When should you use vitamin E?


How do you use vitamin E?

It is often included in many skincare formulations as one of the active ingredients, so it can be used as part of your normal routine. Some products, such as vitamin E oil, recommend it be applied to specific areas such as scars or stretch marks. However, there is little evidence that vitamin E can directly improve scar tissue – including stretch marks.

Vitamin E oil can provide hydration, protection and its antioxidant action, which will benefit skin affected by scars.

Are there any downsides to vitamin E?

There are no downsides for the vitamin E itself as it is naturally found in the skin, but if it is formulated in an oily product, it can potentially clog pores.

Body+Soul love: Lanolips Lano Face Base Day Cream, $26 at Adore Beauty and Jelly Ko Bubble Tea Steam Cream, $48 at Style Story.