Vitamins in Skin Care

vitamin_varietyI am frequently asked about the use and benefits of vitamins as part of a program of skin care and for general healthcare.  Obviously, I first emphasize the benefits of a well-balanced plant-based diet, limiting intake of animal products including dairy.

Sufficient water intake is also important for optimal skin cell function.  From an oral perspective, no one individual vitamin is best for the skin, and I generally recommend a multivitamin such as Centrum or its generic equivalents.

Over the years, however, more vitamins have been showing up in skincare products. More research has shown the benefits of topical use of certain vitamins in terms of healing and reparative properties.

Hence, it should be no surprise that more and more skincare companies are putting vitamins in their product lines.  In discussing vitamins in skincare products, I will break them down by vitamins in alphabetical order.


vitamin_aVitamin A is considered to be THE vitamin for anti-aging skincare, and has the most research behind it concerning its effectiveness with hundreds of scientific articles.  Derivatives of vitamin A called retinoids, such as Retin-A and retinol, act at the level of skin cells.  Its antioxidant properties rejuvenate cells while preventing cell damages from effects of aging and the environment.

Vitamin A also specifically treats acne by improving how older skin cells slough away from the pores.  This action helps prevent pores from clogging, which in turn starts the cascade that leads to the formation of pimples and inflammation.

Finally, Vitamin A boosts collagen production, adding to the positive effects on cell turnover and results in smoother skin.  This result is particularly noticeable in the thinner skin around the eyes where it also helps to prevent breakdown of collagen by UV rays.


Vitamin_CVitamin C is one of the more potent antioxidants available.  Skin preparations of vitamin C reduce sun and UV damage by neutralizing oxidizing chemicals produced by the sun’s interaction with the skin.  When used regularly, sun-induced changes, including discoloration (sun spots), broken blood vessels and fine lines, heal faster and decrease dramatically in appearance.

In addition to its substantial antioxidant effects, vitamin C also helps strengthen the skin by stimulating collagen production.  Most experts in the field feel that vitamin C is the ultimate complement to sunscreen in that it allows sunscreen to be more effective and still helps to repair any damage that does occur.


vitamin_eVitamin E is an antioxidant, but is best known for its skin healing abilities.  The chemical name for vitamin E is tocopherol, and is generally found in vegetable oils and wheat germ.

Throughout history since its discovery, it has been known that applying vitamin E oil to scars would act to soften and lessen their appearance.  At a cellular level, vitamin E guards the cell membrane and acts to strengthen the cell against damage. In this sense, it helps the skin cell to act more as a barrier that protects the body from the outside environment.


vitamin-kVitamin K plays a major role in the stabilization of blood vessels by preventing the leakage of red blood cells from these vessels, especially in areas where skin is very thin.  Since dark circles under the eyes is commonly caused by this kind of leakage, applying vitamin K underneath the eyes can lighten dark circles.

When used over time, vitamin K cream can boost healthy circulation to the skin.  It also reduces unnecessary circulation such as is seen in areas of skin damage.

I recommend products containing all of these vitamin components every day for various skin conditions.  The problem I find with drugstore brand or over-the-counter skincare versions of these vitamins is that they are not very potent and therefore not as effective.  The products we carry at Maine Laser Skin Care are higher in potency and only available through a physician’s office as a result.

If you have any questions about any of these products, please do not hesitate to call (207) 873-2158 to discuss your individual concerns.  If you would like to order a particular product, call the office or click on the links above to order online.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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