Medically reviewed by Mary Lucas, RN
Written by Our Editorial Team
Last updated 5/25/2022
Vitamins are critically important for promoting growth, maintaining your body’s immune system and ensuring that your cells function effectively. In fact, there are 13 essential vitamins that your body literally cannot function properly without.
Many vitamins are also essential for maintaining your largest organ: your skin. From stimulating the growth of new cells to improving structure, elasticity and barrier function, vitamins can have a profound impact on both your skin’s appearance and its function.
The best vitamins for skin health include vitamins A, C, D, a variety of different B vitamins and several others. Many of these skin-friendly vitamins can be found in common food ingredients, dietary supplements and skin care products.
Below, we’ve covered how these vitamins work to promote healthier skin, as well as their other functions within your body.
We’ve also talked about how you can easily increase your intake of these skin-friendly vitamins for smoother, brighter and more youthful skin.
When it comes to vitamins, there’s no one-size-fits-all vitamin that guarantees smooth, perfect skin.
Instead, a variety of skin vitamins all have unique functions, from promoting the growth of new skin cells to stimulating blood flow and ensuring your skin — as well as other organs — receives the nutrients it needs to care for itself.
Below, we’ve listed six of the best vitamins for skin health and wellbeing, along with simple but effective steps that you can take to access the benefits of each one.
Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that your body needs to maintain healthy teeth, bones, mucus membranes and soft tissue, including the skin.
You can consume vitamin A in two forms: as retinol and as carotenoids, which are converted into vitamin A inside your body. One carotenoid, beta-carotene, is a well-known antioxidant that may help to protect your cells from aging and disease caused by free radicals.
When you don’t consume enough vitamin A, it’s possible for your skin to become overly dry and scaly — a condition referred to as hyperkeratosis.
Research shows that vitamin A can help to slow down the skin aging process and stop wrinkles from developing. In fact, vitamin A was the first vitamin approved by the FDA as a topical agent for reducing wrinkles and other signs of aging.
You can get more vitamin A by:
Eating foods that contain vitamin A. Vitamin A can be found in organ meats such as beef liver, eggs, dairy products such as fortified milk and cheese, leafy vegetables and fortified breakfast cereals.
Increasing your intake of colorful fruits and vegetables. Lots of vegetables are rich in carotenoids that can turn into vitamin A. Good sources include strongly colored fruits and vegetables, such as sweet potatoes, carrots, cantaloupe and mangoes.
Using an over-the-counter retinoid. Retinol is an active form of vitamin A that’s found in many skin care creams. It belongs to a class of drugs called retinoids, which are used to treat acne and common signs of skin aging, such as fine lines. You can find retinol as an active ingredient in anti-wrinkle creams, masks and serums, as well as many over-the-counter acne treatments.
Using prescription tretinoin. Tretinoin is a prescription acne and anti-aging medication that’s derived from vitamin A. It’s a powerful medication that works by peeling away dead skin cells and unclogging blocked pores.
Tretinoin is one of several active ingredients in our Acne Cream and Anti-Aging Cream.
When it comes to keeping your skin healthy, niacin offers several benefits. First, it has powerful antioxidant effects that may help to slow the skin aging process. Second, it appears to improve the skin’s natural barrier function, which is important for preventing dry skin and infection.
Niacin (also known as nicotinic acid) also has significant cosmetic benefits. For example, research suggests that it can reduce yellowing, hyperpigmentation (a form of skin discoloration that can cause blotchiness), wrinkles, fine lines and other common blemishes.
Other research has found that niacinamide can make the skin smoother and more elastic when it’s used over the long term. As such, it’s one of several vitamins for skin that deserves a place in your daily routine.
You can get more niacinamide by:
Eating niacin-rich foods. Many foods contain niacin, a similar form of vitamin B3. You can find niacin in many types of meat and seafood, including beef liver, chicken breast, turkey breast, pork, salmon and tuna. Niacin is also found in brown rice, peanuts, russet potatoes, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and lots of fortified cereals.
Using a niacin supplement. Many supplement manufacturers offer niacin supplements that can be taken once a day. As a major B vitamin, niacin is also a popular ingredient in multivitamin supplements.
Using an over-the-counter moisturizer or healing cream. Many moisturizers, creams, masks and other topical vitamin products available over the counter contain niacinamide, albeit typically in small amounts.
Trying our Anti-Aging Rx Cream. Niacinamide is one of several evidence-based active ingredients in our Anti-Aging Cream, which uses a customized formula to target signs of aging and support your skin.
Biotin, or vitamin B7, is an essential nutrient that’s involved in several key biological processes, including the metabolism of glucose, amino acids and fatty acids. It’s also used by your body to turn specific genes on and off and allow for communication between cells.
Biotin plays a vital role in promoting the growth of your skin, hair and nails, and people deficient in biotin often have a high risk of developing skin infections or brittle nails.
Most people get enough biotin from their diet. However, if you smoke, suffer from irritable bowel syndrome, have a magnesium deficiency or use certain types of medication, your body may not be able to properly absorb the biotin found in many common foods.
You can get more biotin by:
Eating biotin-rich foods. Many common foods contain biotin, including beef liver, eggs, salmon, beef, pork, almonds, sweet potatoes and sunflower seeds. Some techniques for processing food, such as canning, may reduce its biotin content.
Using a biotin oral supplement. Nail and hair supplements, including our Multivitamin Gummies, often include biotin, making them an easy option for increasing your intake of biotin without having to make any major changes to your diet.
Vitamin C is one of the most important vitamins for skin health. In fact, your skin contains large amounts of vitamin C, which plays a critical role in everything from protecting your skin against damage to maintaining your skin’s internal structure.
One of the main functions of vitamin C in your skin is to support optimal collagen production — the process of producing your skin’s main structural protein. Collagen is a critical protein that gives your skin its texture, shape and elasticity.
Vitamin C also provides resistance to ultraviolet (UV) radiation in sunlight. Long-term exposure to UV rays can cause photoaging — a type of skin damage that’s responsible for as much as 90 percent of the visible change in your skin that occurs as you get older.
Thanks to its effects on collagen formation, its antioxidant properties and its ability function as a shield against UV damage, vitamin C may help to slow down the skin aging process.
In addition to its advantages for healthy skin, vitamin C also has several other benefits for your general health. Because of its effects on the production of collagen, it supports your ligaments, tendons and blood vessels. It’s also important for wound healing and scar tissue formation.
Vitamin C even plays a major role in repairing and maintaining your teeth and bones, as well as the cartilage that provides support and protection for your joints.
When your body has insufficient vitamin C, it can affect just about every aspect of your personal health, from your immune system and ability to heal from injuries to your gums, joints, teeth and skin. Low levels of vitamin C can even contribute to dry, brittle hair.
You can get more vitamin C by:
Eating foods that contain vitamin C. The best food sources of vitamin C include fresh fruits, including orange, grapefruit, mango, pineapple, watermelon, kiwi fruit, cantaloupe, strawberries, raspberries, cranberries and blueberries. Many green vegetables, sweet and white potatoes, bell peppers and winter squash are also rich in vitamin C.
Eat cereals and beverages fortified with vitamin C. Many cereals and other foods are fortified to contact extra vitamin C. Check ingredient lists when you’re shopping for food to see if a cereal or other ingredient is fortified with extra vitamins and minerals.
Using a vitamin C supplement. Vitamin C is one of the most common vitamins used in vitamin supplements. You can buy vitamin C on its own in tablet form or take it in as part of a multivitamin supplement.
If you smoke, make an effort to quit. Smokers have significantly lower blood levels of vitamin C than nonsmokers. In addition to reducing vitamin levels, smoking can harm your skin by affecting the production of collagen. If you smoke, try to quit. Not only will it help your skin look and feel better — it also helps your body to use important vitamins more efficiently.
Use vitamin C skin care products. Another easy way to increase your levels of vitamin C is to use vitamin C serums, cleansers, toners and other products in your daily skincare routine. You can find skincare products containing vitamin C online and over the counter in most beauty product stores and drug stores.
Known as the “sunshine” vitamin, vitamin D is an important fat-soluble vitamin that’s produced naturally within your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight.
Vitamin D plays an important role in regulating the processing of long-chain glycosylceramides, which are compounds involved in maintaining your skin’s protective barrier and preventing skin conditions.
Research also suggests that vitamin D may play a major role in maintaining your hair follicles — small tunnel-like in your skin from which your scalp and body hair grows. It’s also linked to the skin’s natural wound healing process.
Vitamin D may also have photoprotective effects, meaning it shields your skin from sun damage that can contribute to premature aging.
You can get more vitamin D by:
Eating foods fortified with vitamin D. Although vitamin D isn’t found in many natural ingredients, some foods are fortified with vitamin D. You can get dietary vitamin D from fortified breakfast cereals and milk, as well as some brands of yogurt and margarine.
Adding cooking ingredients that contain vitamin D to your diet. You can also find small quantities of vitamin D in salmon, tuna, mackerel and other types of fatty fish, as well as beef liver, egg yolks and cheese.
Using a vitamin D supplement. Many supplement manufacturers offer vitamin D3, or cholecalciferol, supplements. You can also find vitamin D in many vitamin supplements designed for daily use.
Spending a small amount of time in the sunshine. Your body produces vitamin D as a result of sun exposure. Spending 10 to 15 minutes in direct sunlight three days each week is normally enough to produce the vitamin D your body needs for optimal health. It’s best not to spend longer than this in direct sunlight on a weekly basis, as excess sun exposure can increase your risk of developing skin cancer. UV radiation from exposure to sunlight can also contribute to skin issues such as hyperpigmentation.
Vitamin E, or tocopherol, is an antioxidant that helps protect your tissue from damage caused by free radicals. It also plays a critical role in strengthening your immune system, helping you to fight off viruses and bacterial infections.
Because of its antioxidant properties, vitamin E has been widely used in skin care for more than 50 years. It’s known to provide protection from UV radiation and reduce the risk of some tumors that can grow on your skin.
Research suggests that vitamin E is also effective as a treatment for several numerous skin and nail conditions, including yellow nail syndrome, topic dermatitis and some forms of inflammatory acne.
You can get more vitamin E by:
Eating foods that contain vitamin E. You can find vitamin E in margarine, nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and leafy green vegetables. It’s also added to some fortified foods, such as cereals.
Using a vitamin E supplement. Vitamin E is available as a dietary supplement and as an ingredient in many multivitamin supplements. If you currently take a blood thinner or other prescription medication, these supplements may not be safe for you to use. If you’re worried about health issues or interactions from vitamin E supplements, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider.
Maintaining a healthy intake of vitamins can provide your skin with the building blocks it needs to stay smooth, elastic and free of common issues such as fine lines and wrinkles.
If you’ve recently noticed your skin looking a little dull, lifeless or less glowing than normal, it’s often worth adding a multivitamin supplement and some vitamin-infused skin care products to your daily routine.
Not sure where to start? You can learn everything you need to know about caring for your skin, preventing common issues and minimizing the signs of aging in our detailed guide to building a face care routine.