If your skin has lost elasticity or become dull thanks to the change in seasons, your local pharmacy may help. Sure, a swipe of foundation might provide an instant fix, but boosting your hydration and taking supplements for skin, tailored to your skin's needs, could give your skin a boost.
"I don’t think a supplement pill will be a messiah for your skin, but it’s a pretty harmless option to explore,” says Dr. Rebecca Tung, M.D., associate professor of dermatology at Loyola University in Chicago, in an interview with Marie Claire. In context, eating whole foods is still the optimal way to meet your nutritional needs and the health-boosting benefits that come along with it. And while current research is lacking in definitive studies about whether skin supplements work or not, there isn't much research in the way of skin supplements as particularly bad for you either.
If you're considering adding skin supplements to your complexion wellness routine, remember, "Vitamins only work for as long as you take them, so you need to look at this as a long-term commitment,” says Dr. Tung, and notes that it may take four to six weeks to notice results.
Here, we quizzed dermatologists and nutrition experts with a simple question: What's the one supplement you recommend for great, glowing skin?
Choose your area of focus—from dullness to hormonal acne—and beeline to the pharmacy for next-level, luminous skin, according to these experts.
"Hormonal acne describes the blemishes that rear their ugly head seven to 10 days before your period," explains Taryn Forrelli, N.D. She argues that the key to beating acne is to balance your hormones during your cycle. "Supporting the body’s ability to properly metabolize hormones can help minimize their cyclical effects."
Dermatologist Josh Zeichner, M.D., recommends reaching for zinc when hormonal acne flares up. "Zinc has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help calm acne breakouts," he says. While Forrelli agrees this is a great go-to fix, she says to take it with vitamin B6 for an added punch. "Vitamin B6 plays a role in reducing the skin’s sensitivity to testosterone while zinc helps regulate the conversion of testosterone to DHT, which revs up oil production," she explains. "Zinc also supports the immune system’s role in keeping skin clear and plays a role in the generation of new, healthy skin cells—key for repairing the damage done by blemishes."
Dermatologists agree: Fish oil supplements are one of the best ways to give dull skin new life. "Omega-3 fatty acids do a ton for your skin but especially can help turn dull skin brighter by preventing them from drying out," explains Brooke Alpert, M.S., R.D., C.D.N., and founder of B Nutritious. "Wild salmon is my favorite dull skin fix for the great source of omega-3 fatty acids, or of course a great supplement."
Try Fish Oil
Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, M.D., calls fish oil a "powerhouse ingredient" that does so much more than improve dull skin. "It is a powerful antioxidant that can help reduce photodamage (or exposure to harmful UV rays) and wrinkles, improve skin texture, and help with collagen production," she says.
If you're currently taking a fish oil supplement and haven't seen an improvement, Forrelli recommends taking probiotics to balance the "good bacteria" in your gut. "An imbalance in your gut microflora can trigger inflammation and in turn rob your skin of precious hydration," she explains. "Emerging research suggests that supplementation with probiotics like lactobacilli and bifidobacteria can help improve hydration and induce a beneficial glow." Who wouldn't want that?
"Your skin's elasticity is largely determined by the quantity and quality of collagen your skin cells produce," says Forrelli. "Starting in our 20s, collagen production begins to decrease, and by the time we are in our mid-40s, the loss starts to manifest as skin looseness or slack."
Try Collagen + Vitamin C
That doesn't mean you're a slave to biology, though. "Vitamin C is a key nutrient involved in collagen production, so taking a supplement to boost your daily intake can help ensure natural production is optimized," she says. Alpert recommends combining it with a collagen supplement for better results. "It's also smart to supplement with a collagen powder like Reserveage’s collagen booster to help support the collagen in our skin and keep it youthful," she says.
Sure, aging is inevitable, but there are some ways to cushion the process. "Skin aging is a result of damage to skin structures and processes caused by free radicals. They trigger inflammation, increase pigmentation, break down collagen, impair circulation, and decrease the production of hyaluronic acid," explains Forrelli.
Try Hyaluronic Acid
While hyaluronic acid, the "skin's natural moisture molecule," is found in a lot of creams and lotions and serums, you can also opt for a supplement to boost your intake of antioxidants. "Blueberries, aronia berry, pomegranate, and sea buckthorn are some of the most powerful out there," Forrelli says.
How to Shop for Skin Supplements
As always, consult with your physician before taking any supplements. While supplements aren't regulated by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), your doctor can provide recommendations for things like the appropriate dosage to take and how supplements might interact with any existing medications or pre-existing conditions. “Shopping for vitamins can be tricky,” Michelle Green, M.D. says in an interview with Greatist. “You want to be sure the label says they’re 100 percent natural and list all-natural ingredients with no synthetic fillers.”
Draelos ZD. An Oral Supplement and the Nutrition-Skin Connection. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2019;12(7):13-16.
Gupta M, Mahajan VK, Mehta KS, Chauhan PS. Zinc Therapy in Dermatology: A Review. Dermatol Res Pract. 2014;2014:709152.
National Institutes of Health: Office of Dietary Supplements. Omega-3 Fatty Acids. Updated October 1, 2020.
Nwanodi O. Skin Protective Nutraceuticals: The Current Evidence in Brief. Healthcare (Basel). 2018;6(2)