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The Cosmetic ABC – Your Complete Guide to Vitamins

The truth is that vitamins and fruit acids top the list of active cosmetic ingredients. You can find them in anti-wrinkle creams, moisturisers, or even whitening creams. Let's take a closer look at vitamins.

What are vitamins?

Vitamins are exogenous compounds (i.e., substances taken from the outside) necessary for the correct course of biochemical processes occurring in the body. They must be supplied from the outside, either with food or through the skin.

The main functions that vitamins play in cosmetics include:

· Antioxidant

· Moisturizing

· Radioprotective

· regulating epidermal keratinisation (i.e., regulation of the epidermal renewal cycle)

· reducing hyperpigmentation

· anti-inflammatory

Crucial is the stability of chemical compounds used in cosmetics and the possibility of their penetration into the deeper layers of the skin (appropriate for the action of a given vitamin). Also significant are the concentrations of substances in cosmetic preparations that can ensure the skin's correct, intended action.

Vitamins A, B, C, E, P, K, and F (EFAs) correspond to each skin type. If you take a look at cosmetic ingredients, you should find at least two of these vitamins. They do a perfect job as biocatalysts, which are needed for skin cells to work flawlessly.

Vitamin A – to make your skin younger

Vitamin A, also known as retinol, is one of the most active ''rejuvenators'' in creams. Why? Because it works where the wrinkle problem begins. In the dermis - which is responsible for the skin's elasticity and strength - vitamin A increases collagen and elastin synthesis. The result is improved elasticity and resilience.

It also regulates the epidermal renewal cycle so that all functions occur correctly. As well as being found in creams, it can also be found in body firming lotions and in more powerful preparations such as facial serums - precisely because of its properties.

You have to be very careful with retinol when exposing yourself to the sun because it is photosensitizing. Therefore, it's a bad idea to use retinol in summer because it increases skin cells' sensitivity to light radiation.

Vitamin A has a normalising effect on exfoliation in the ducts of sebaceous glands and reduces the amount of sebum produced by the skin - which is very important in treating acne vulgaris and rosacea.

Supplemented vitamin A occurs in the form of a provitamin, i.e., beta-carotene. It is only absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract in a fatty medium (e.g., by adding olive oil to meals). It plays a vital role in visual processes. It is essential for normal physiological processes not only of the skin but also of hair and nails.

Vitamin A deficiency accompanies psoriasis, acne, alopecia areata, disorders of the skin's keratinization, and mucosal disorders.

Vitamin E – to beat those free radicals

There is no better weapon against free radicals! Vitamin E is commonly called the "champion" because of how well it fights radicals. Another name for it is the "vitamin of youth." And there is a lot of truth in that. It penetrates the skin quickly and protects it from these damaging particles.

It acts as a natural filter and protects the skin from the harmful effects of UV radiation, water loss, and loss of elasticity. It also soothes post-sun irritation.

Very often, in creams, vitamin E is combined with vitamin C. This combination is a double weapon and protection against free radicals. This enhanced effect is essential in the deeper layers of the skin.

These vitamins protect the cells of the dermis from damage and prevent inflammation. Vitamin E also has an anti-edematous effect and helps to rebuild damaged tissue.

Vitamin C – to make your skin firm and elastic

Vitamin C - or L-ascorbic acid - is a unique vitamin. Firstly, it has excellent anti-free radical properties. Secondly, ascorbic acid stimulates collagen synthesis (i.e., it works on skin firmness and elasticity).

When it comes to more mature people, vitamin C accelerates collagen formation and delays skin ageing processes. It leads to a reduction in the depth of wrinkles and improves the condition of the skin.

Vitamin C has excellent brightening and depigmentation properties. It reduces the synthesis of melanin (it inhibits tyrosinase synthesis, which is responsible for discolouration).

Besides, it moisturises by stimulating the synthesis of ceramides in the skin, which influences the protective epidermal barrier's renewal.

Vitamin B3 – to help fight acne

Vitamin B3 also stimulates collagen synthesis and increases ceramides' synthesis (molecules that maintain the epidermis's integrity). It is significant, for example, in atopic and mature skin when the number of ceramides decreases.

Vitamin B3 also has anti-acne properties. It moisturises, soothes, regenerates, accelerates the healing of wounds and inflammations, and lightens discolourations.

Vitamin P – to deal with redness, allergies, and inflammations

Vitamin P has an anti-free radical effect and is an excellent ingredient in creams for sensitive skin, as bioflavonoids (natural extracts from plants). It also has an anti-allergic and anti-inflammatory effect, i.e., it reduces inflammation and stimulates estrogen receptors in the skin.

As we age, the level of estrogens in the skin naturally decreases due to time passing. It is accompanied by such signs of ageing as flabbiness, loss of elasticity, and the formation of wrinkles. Vitamin P compensates for this by stimulating estrogen receptors in the skin. It protects the skin proteins collagen and elastin.

The cosmetic activity of vitamin P also has a beneficial effect on the condition of capillary walls of blood vessels, which effectively reduces skin redness and strengthens blood vessels.

Vitamin K - prevents the formation of bruises

Vitamin K has a very similar effect to vitamin P - it also seals blood vessels, has an antiedematous impact, and prevents the formation of bruises. It brightens redness and soothes irritation caused by too intensive sunbathing.

It is an essential ingredient in cosmetics for vascular and sensitive skin. It also has excellent antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Vitamin F – to regenerate and moisturise your skin

Vitamin F (EFA - essential unsaturated fatty acids) - is a mixture of acids from the ranks of omega-3 and omega-6 (mainly linoleic, linolenic, arachidic). This vitamin is a structural element of cell lipids. EFAs ensure the proper structure of the intercellular cement (i.e., they seal the epidermal cells' spaces).

They accelerate skin regeneration, moisturize (prevent evaporation of water from the epidermis), act anti-aging, and regulate skin glands' activity.

Their deficiency can be very troublesome. It may cause:

· excessive exfoliation

· eczema

· acne

· seborrhoeic dermatitis

· rough skin

· brittle hair and nails

· epidermal dysfunction.

Where can you find those vitamins?

You need to be aware that the human body doesn’t produce vitamins. That’s why you need to supply them regularly. When it comes to your skin, you can apply creams and lotions, but what about your diet? What should you eat to get enough vitamins?

Here’s where you can find all the necessary vitamins:

· Vitamin A - you can find it in carrots, cabbage, pumpkin, spinach, squash, broccoli, mangoes, apricots, peaches, sweet potatoes, and kale. Retinol and its derivatives are found in animal origin food, for example, in eggs, beef, pork, poultry liver, cheese, and butter.

· Vitamin E - you can find it in soya, corn and sunflower oils, almonds, walnuts and peanuts, wheat germ, whole-wheat flour, milk, eggs, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, lettuce, and spinach.

· Vitamin C - you need to look for citrus fruits, apples, black and red currants, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, tomatoes, potatoes, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, broccoli, green peas, asparagus, artichokes, soybeans, peppers, parsley, kohlrabi, radishes, beets, young potatoes, kiwi.

· Vitamin B3 - you should be on the lookout for lean meat, liver, hearts, poultry, fish, beans, peas, peanut butter, cheese, soya, nuts, almonds, sorrel, parsley, spinach, or potatoes.

· Vitamin P is in green tea, red wine, citrus fruits, berries, parsley, dark chocolate, onions, rosehips, spinach, and broccoli.

· Vitamin K - green-coloured vegetables (containing high levels of chlorophyll) are particularly rich in vitamin K. Here's your list: spinach, Brussels sprouts, kale, broccoli, asparagus, savoy cabbage, parsley, rocket, romaine and iceberg lettuce, avocado, sorrel, cucumbers.

· Vitamin F (EFA) - its primary sources are vegetable oils (for example, sunflower oil, coconut oil, rapeseed oil, flaxseed oil, corn oil). They are also present in cod liver oil, seafood, linseed, caviar, tuna, or mackerel.

Please remember that some vitamins are water-soluble (e.g., B vitamins, vitamin C), and some are fat-soluble (vitamins A, D, E, and K).

Water-soluble vitamins do not accumulate in the human body, and their excess is excreted in the urine. That is why an overdose is rarely a case. However, you need to supply them with food in sufficient quantity and successively.

Fat-soluble vitamins are a group of vitamins, excess of which may accumulate in some tissues (and therefore may be harmful). The bioavailability of these vitamins depends on the presence of fat in the food (i.e., they need fat carriers for absorption from the gastrointestinal tract).

Final words

It would be best if you take good care of your home skincare. Having cosmetics containing necessary vitamins is a step in the right direction.

At the same time, it’s crucial to scrutinize your diet and make sure that you provide the body with a sufficient amount of vitamins through food.

I strongly encourage you to do it because it’s a proven way to refine your skin’s appearance and overall health, maintain balance in the body (homeostasis), and enjoy a long time of health and beautiful skin.

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