10 Science-Backed Supplements for Healthy Skin
Inside Out Skin Health Supplements
These supplements for skin have been well studied and found tried and true when it comes to fighting acne, the signs of aging, sun damage, and more. Let’s take a closer look…
Beauty is NOT only skin deep.
(You’ve probably heard me say this before, right? It’s basically my unofficial motto!)
Because the skin is the body’s largest organ, and the body is one complex, interconnected system.
You can think of the skin as a mirror that reflects and is tremendously influenced by internal health — other aspects of our health and body system like hormones, particular micro- and macronutrients, blood sugar, inflammation, oxidative stress, gut health, and more.
(I learned this very quickly when working to remedy the root causes of my acne in my 20s… and became so intrigued by the connection between diet and skin that I wrote a book all about it and have dedicated my Nutritional Therapy practice to women with adult acne!)
So it shouldn’t be any surprise that my diet and supplement regimen are as much a part of my skincare routine as my masks and face oils!
While a nutrient-dense, real food diet will provide your body and skin with a wide range of the nutrients it needs to build, protect, and repair, a few supplements in particular have been well researched and found to be particularly helpful for boosting skin health and appearance.
Yes, science meets nature to give you glowing skin from within!
NOTE: This is an educational resource meant to help you better understand how certain supplements may affect the skin. Always consult with your primary care physician or licensed healthcare provider for all medical diagnosis and treatment, medical advice, and before changing your health care regimen.
10 Science-Backed Supplements for Healthy Skin
Astaxanthin is a carotenoid that’s naturally found in trout, microalgae, yeast, and shrimp, and other sea creatures. Fun fact: it’s what gives salmon, shrimp, lobsters, and flamingos (which eat shrimp) their pink color!
Astaxanthin is one of Mother Nature’s most potent antioxidants. Though these figures range, some studies have found it to be…
- 40 times more powerful than beta-carotene (source)
- 6000 times more powerful than vitamin C (source)
- 550 times more powerful than vitamin E and green tea (source)
Thanks to this tremendous antioxidant power, other studies have found that it helps protect the skin from UV damage from within (source).
[Astaxanthin is one of the supplements on this list that I do take daily, bumping up from 4 mg to 12 mg in the summer for the added sun protection.]
RECOMMENDATION: Jarrow Formulas Astaxanthin
Evening Primrose Oil
Evening primrose oil is commonly used to treat inflammatory conditions as well as skin disorders like eczema (atopic dermatitis), psoriasis, acne, and dry or itchy skin (source).
The benefits of evening primrose oil are due to its high levels of gamma-linoleic acid (GLA), omega-6 essential fatty acid with powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
One study found that supplementation with evening primrose oil helped significantly improve skin moisture, transepidermal water loss, elasticity, firmness, fatigue resistance, and roughness after 12 weeks of consistent use (source).
(Note that no improvements were recognized after just 4 weeks of supplementation, which goes to remind us that patience and consistency is key!)
RECOMMENDATION: Barlean’s Evening Primrose Oil softgels
According to researchers:
The fatty acids in fish oil can improve skin barrier function, inhibit UV-induced inflammation and hyperpigmentation, attenuate dry skin and pruritus elicited by dermatitis, accelerate skin wound healing, and prevent skin cancer development. (source)
Omega-3 fatty acids along with DHA and EPA — both of which are found in fish oil but not other sources of omega-3s like seeds — support collagen production. They’re also incredibly anti-inflammatory, which is why fish oil is so commonly used to help reduce symptoms of rosacea, acne, and eczema.
2,000 mg of fish oil a day has been shown to have many anti-aging, anti-inflammatory benefits.
[Fish oil is another supplement on this list that I take daily for a number of reasons, just one of which is skin health!]
Note: Fish oil is a blood thinner so avoid it before any surgery and let your physician know you are taking it. It’s also key to be sure your fish oil is from a reputable source to avoid any toxic mercury or other impurities!
RECOMMENDATION: New Chapter Wholemega Whole Fish Oil
Silica has long been prized for its ability to enhance the beauty of the skin, hair, and nails by providing valuable nutrients. Bamboo extract, one of the richest sources of silica, has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine to remedy to treat psoriasis, calm skin burns, and heal wounds.
The most important benefits of silica when it comes to skin health and appearance: it’s required to produce collagen and is a natural anti-inflammatory. One study (of participants aged 40-65 and with clear clinical signs of facial photoaging) found “significant improvement in the skin surface characteristics and in its mechanical properties” after 20 weeks of supplementation… oh, and much stronger nails, too! (source)
And while the body does produce silica naturally, just as collagen production starts slowing around the age of 25, so too does silica production, which is why supplementation may be helpful.
RECOMMENDATION: Flora FloraSil Silica
A number of preclinical studies have found that supplementing with collagen peptides improves skin barrier function, increases collagen and hyaluronic acid production, and promote fibroblast growth (source). This means smoother, firmer skin from the inside out.
The collagen density in the dermis significantly increased and the fragmentation of the dermal collagen network significantly decreased already after 4 weeks of supplementation.
Other studies have found that supplementing with collagen peptides increased the skin’s hydration. Hydrated skin appears smoother and more youthful.
TIP: I like to use collagen peptides as a single-ingredient protein powder in smoothies, as well as mix it into my daily matcha latte.
RECOMMENDATION: Perfect Supplements Collagen Peptides
Related: So What’s The Deal With Collagen? What Is It & Is It Worth The Hype?
N-acetyl cysteine (NAC)
NAC is a necessary precursor to glutathione, the body’s master antioxidant that can’t be obtained through diet (and supplementation is near impossible as well). NAC plays a critical role in the methylation process and is key for liver health, detox, and the anti-inflammatory process — all of which impact the skin tremendously.
A number studies have studied the effects of NAC on acne patients. One found a 50% reduction in pimple counts and 72% reduction of the inflammatory marker interleukin 8 (IL-8) after 8 weeks!
Most studies have patients take around 1200 mg of NAC daily, 600 in the morning and 600 at night. If you’re petite, start with just 600 mg a day total.
RECOMMENDATION: Pure Encapsulations NAC (N-Acetyl-l-Cysteine) 600mg
The Polypodium Leucotomos Extract (PLE) derived from a tropical fern has been shown to protect skin from UV rays and sun damage from within (source, source, source).
I’ve seen more and more supplements containing this extract for the purpose of sun protection hit the market in recent years, and my fair-skinned husband has used the below recommendation (one of the very first formulations) with great success for a few years now!
RECOMMENDATION: Heliocare with Fernblock
This mineral supports the skin in a number of ways. It’s not only acts as a powerful antioxidant, but also it helps reduce inflammation, sharpen insulin sensitivity, and boost the immune system. It’s also necessary for the body to use vitamin A, another key antioxidant for the skin.
Zinc is especially helpful for those with acne-prone skin. Researchers have found that people with acne tend to have lower zinc levels than those without, and studies have shown that the mineral is almost as effective as antibiotics in killing acne bacteria (source).
This study even found a correlation between low blood serum levels of zinc and the severity of acne — the lower the levels of zinc, the more severe the acne.
RECOMMENDATION: Jarrow Formulas Zinc Balance*
*Too much zinc can cause a deficiency of copper (as well unpleasant symptoms). This is why I recommend choosing a zinc supplement with a small amount of copper included.
The “sunshine vitamin” is absolutely essential for good health, including skin health — crucial to epidermis cell replenishment, repair and metabolism (which keeps your skin’s moisture locked in and supports its immunity), and can help minimize acne and dark spots.
Unfortunately, between the ages of 20 and 70, your body loses 75% of its ability to create vitamin D (source).
And since we depend on sunlight for much of our vitamin D intake, if you live in a climate where sunlight is inconsistent or minimal, or if you rarely expose your skin to the sun without sunblock, it’s probably worth getting your levels tested and considering a vitamin D supplement
RECOMMENDATION: Jarrow Formulas Vitamin D3
Coenzyme Q (CoQ10) has powerful antioxidant benefits, protecting cells from aging free radicals.
You’ll notice CoQ10 as an active ingredient in many anti-aging topical skincare products for this reason. And though CoQ10 supplements are most used commonly used to support heart health, they can help reduce the signs of skin aging from within.
One study found that 12 weeks of CoQ10 supplementation “significantly reduced wrinkles and microrelief lines, and improved skin smoothness” (source).
Other studies have found that CoQ10 may help protect the skin from UV-B rays,
Though the body does naturally product CoQ10, production decreases as we age and experience stress (just one of the many ways stress contributes to premature aging *sigh*), so our cells are less protected from free radicals and we age more rapidly.
RECOMMENDATION: Pharmaca Coenzyme Q10
Are supplements part of your skincare routine?
Have you tried any of the supplements on this list? Others you’d recommend?
Please share with us below!
So glad you found it helpful! No – I’d recommend just choosing 1-2 based on your needs. No need to go crazy!
This is wonderful information! Thank you for your research & educating us!
Do you take all of these supplements daily? It seems like a lot to take daily, so I am curious how you tackle this. Thank you!
Thank you so much for the feedback and kind words, Linda. I really appreciate it!
I am so impressed with your knowledge of supplements for skin health.
You also make it so convenient to order them with a good description and recommendations. Also consistency is key.
I am impressed.
Thank you for all your research.