In 2017, there was a huge rise in searches on Pinterest for skincare products containing Vitamin C. The vitamin has a cult following for the promise of brighter skin and an even complexion.
But the popularity of skin products that contain vitamins, minerals, and health-boosting properties in products isn’t new. Nor is it unique to skin care itself. You’ll find a host of vitamins A, B, C, D, X, Y and Z advertised on all manner of body products, from skin to hair to nails. Not to mention those that boast of their inclusion of magnesium, calcium, potassium, Iron, Zinc, Biotin. The list goes on.
Clever marketing campaigns by big league cosmetic companies nudge us into the mindset of the miracle cure. “If I just buy this cream now, I’ll have no wrinkles later”. Then when you go to purchase the cream, you find there’s a night and day version, each with their own list of enticing properties that compliment each other, so that you can upgrade to all round 24 hour healthy skin. Plus a serum to reduce ageing around the eyes. A hair mask brimming with antioxidants, so your hair can grow at an impossible rate. A cuticle conditioning cream that increases nail flexibility. Because who wants inflexible nails? Not me.
Before you know it, you’re walking away with 1000 points on your boots card, and enough products to start your own spa.
They get us with words like “restorative”, “remodelling” and “anti-ageing”, suggesting we’ve been on an unrighteous path of skin decline, but that we can turn it all around with just one purchase of a super magic formula. Do you know dermatologists suggest is the best anti-ageing product to use every day? Sunscreen. The most underestimated inexpensive cream on the market.
It doesn’t end there. Recently there has been an explosion in products pedalling the word ‘natural’ in their expensive remedies, right on que, as the world becomes more fearful of chemical properties they can’t pronounce. The idea they’re selling? That we recoup and use the knowledge of our ancient ancestors, who treated their skin with the bounty of the natural world around them.
As Dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto points out The problem with “natural” skincare is that it is not subject to the same degree of quality control as there is no standard definition of “natural”. With herbal preparations you are not aware of a number of factors, which include growing conditions or health of the plant, selection of the right part of the plant, and extraction methods to name a few”. The ‘natural’ products may not be doing anything more substantial than the ‘non-natural’ products.
This isn’t an attack on skincare products. I especially don’t want to disregard the need for specialist products for sufferers of inflammatory skin conditions, such as acne and rosacea. For those kinds of conditions, a good dermatologist may be able to point you in the direction of the best, most helpful treatment for your needs.
For anyone else who doesn’t suffer theses issues - the question isn’t simply:
‘Do you really need these vitamin enriched cosmetics?’
Because the answer is no, you can get all of the vitamins and minerals your skin needs in ample supply from the food you eat (and then some). The more important question is:
‘What more are you getting when you ingest vitamins and minerals through food, that you’re not getting from applying a cream?’.
Well, let’s look at a few examples:
Vitamin C produces collagen, which strengthens the skin. You can get vitamin C in your diet by eating a host of citrus fruits, such as oranges (the popular one we all know) lemons, grapefruits. When you eat vegetables such as broccoli, brussel sprouts, red peppers. You can find it in sweet potatoes.
Not only does it help to maintain healthy skin, it also helps to repair tissue. It helps to prevent cardiovascular disease, and is an essential nutrient for a healthy immune system.
Vitamin A encourages healthy skin cell production. You can get Vitamin A in your diet by eating cheese, oily fish, eggs, milk and yoghurt. But also via a good balance of beta-carotene rich foods, because your body changes beta-carotene into Vitamin A. Spinach, carrots, sweet potato, mango, papaya, apricots.
Not only does it help to grow and repair skin, it is integral to good vision, and helps your immune system to fight against illness and infection.
Zinc has been studied at length for it’s potential to fight acne, as it helps to prevent the formation of free-radicals. Zinc rich foods include meat (particularly red, but can be found in many meats), shellfish, beans, chickpeas and lentils, nuts and seeds and whole grains.
Not only does it help to heal and rejuvenate the skin, but it’s also vital in helping your body to process carbohydrates, proteins and fats in food. It also aids in the healing of wounds and helps to fight invading bacteria and viruses.
These are just a few examples of ways in which there are countless health benefits to sourcing vitamins and minerals in your diet, that include, but go beyond good healthy skin. I’m sure a trip to the local cosmetics counter could spark plenty more examples than these three. Next time you find yourself with a basket full of cosmetics you didn’t know you needed…ask yourself if you really do.
You may already be getting all of the vitamins and minerals in your diet to do the job that the cream is selling you for £15 a pop. And if you’re not, getting these foods in your diet can contribute to the long lasting health of your whole body - not just the skin on your face, or the hair on your head (or the flexible nails).
Don’t be fed a good marketing ploy. Stay at home and be fed good food instead.