Vital Signs

Vitamin-based treatments and products provide nutrients to the body.In the form of food and supplements, vitamins help support a healthy immune system and provide nutrients to the body. They can also benefit the skin in many ways, which is why they are often included in cosmetics and skincare products, as well. “As vitamins are required in our diet to allow us to remain healthy, they also act on the skin when topically applied to keep it healthy and radiant,” says Karen Asquith, director of education at G.M. Collin. Vitamins in skincare help moisturize the skin, stimulate collagen, refine the surface of the skin, suppress the production of melanin, and provide anti-inflammatory benefits. According to Kimberly Saltrese, corporate educator at Image Skincare, they can also significantly improve the performance of skincare products to assist in delivering desired results.

By Popular Demand

When it comes to vitamins in skincare, there are several that have become widely known for the many benefits they offer the skin. The most popular vitamins in skincare today are A, B, C, D, E, F, and K. According to Asquith, vitamin A is extremely popular in varying forms, including Retin-A and retinol, which increase cell turnover, reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, minimize the effects of photoaging, and help treat acne. Vitamins C and E offer antioxidant protection to the skin and protect it from free-radical damage related to sun exposure. They are often utilized together in skincare formulations. Vitamin D helps in the treatment of psoriasis and also affects the calcium level in the skin; vitamin F is an essential fatty acid that assists with the barrier function of the skin; and vitamin K is popular in eye products, because it helps soften the appearance of dark circles under the eyes.

Because of the many benefits they offer, vitamin-based treatments have also gained popularity at spas. For example, at The Spa at Rancho Valencia at Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa (Rancho Santa Fe, CA), clients can experience the Citrus-A-Peel ($220, 75 minutes), which helps relieve sun-damaged skin and helps alleviate signs of premature aging using 100-percent pure vitamin C to stimulate collagen production and firm skin. Also, at The Spa at Camelback Inn at JW Marriott Scottsdale Camelback Inn Resort & Spa (AZ), clients can experience the benefits of vitamin E firsthand with the Natural Agave Toning Wrap ($165, 60 minutes), which includes a full-body exfoliation using a fine-grain sea salt scrub containing alfalfa leaf and vitamin E to smooth the skin’s surface.Vitamin-based treatments and products provide nutrients to the body.

Special Delivery

Vitamins in their standard form are usually unable to penetrate the skin on their own, which is why various delivery systems are necessary for them to be effective. According to Charlene DeHaven, M.D., clinical director at Innovative Skincare, manufacturer of IS Clinical products, delivery mechanisms for vitamins can be complicated, because they may involve not only the actual chemical structure of the vitamin but also the vitamin structure as it interacts with the formula’s other ingredients. It may also involve designing a specific transport mechanism for the ingredient inside micelles, liposomes, or nanoparticles.

The most popular mode of delivering vitamins to targeted sites, according to Janel Luu, CEO of Le Mieux Cosmetics, is by using an encapsulation delivery system. “In a liposomal encapsulation technology delivery system, the stability of vitamins is enhanced by shielding them from common environmental factors,” she says. “The vitamins are encapsulated with liposomal vesicles, which utilize highly purified phospholipids to form flexible membranes. This flexibility is important, because it enables more effective delivery of ingredients into the skin. This delivery vehicle allows penetration of lipophilic and hydrophilic vitamins into the deeper skin layers, increasing the availability and controlled release to the skin.” The encapsulation delivery system can also involve a microcapsule shell that is made of a single-layer polymer, which isolates vitamins to ensure protection from light, temperature, pH, and other oxidizing agents in cosmetic formulations. The pure vitamin is released from the capsules when pressure is applied and breaks the shell while rubbing the cosmetic formulation onto the skin. Until the moment of application, the active vitamin remains fresh and potent, which increases end-product efficiency, says Luu.

Another mode is the polymeric entrapment delivery system. According to Luu, the actives are surrounded by a polymer film that protects them from the rest of the formula until they are released at a controlled rate. “The vitamin actives are delivered slowly for a long-lasting effect,” she says.

Stabilizing Forces

Active delivery technologies, especially the encapsulation of ingredients, can help improve the stability and efficacy of vitamins. In addition, antioxidants can help stabilize oxygen-sensitive formulations and can also act as skincare actives, says Luu. She adds that chelants, preservatives, and UV absorbers are also key materials needed to maintain product quality and stability. Because vitamin potency can be affected by moisture, light, heat, and air, it is best to store products in a dark, cool, and dry environment. Kimberly D’Amelio, west coast educator at Cosmedix, suggests avoiding clear glass bottles, which can lead to the breakdown of volatile products, and instead opting for products in a pump or a tube, so that contamination cannot occur.

Spoiler Alert

There are expiration dates on products for a reason, and as with food, skincare expiration dates should be respected, as should the indication timeline for shelf life after opening. “This is generally indicated by a pictogram of a jar with a number and the letter M after it,” says Asquith. “For example 6M indicates the product will maintain its efficacy for six months after it is opened.” She suggests watching for warning signs that a product has gone bad, such as a change of scent or color and, in some cases, separation of the components of the product. “Vitamin C formulations are especially susceptible to oxidation, which can be instantly recognized, as the product will begin to change color, transforming it from a clear or slightly orange-colored solution to a brownish liquid,” says Asquith. “If this occurs, the product has oxidized, and it should be discarded immediately. Think of oxidation like rust on a car—once the metal has rusted, it is no longer functional as metal, nor does it maintain any of the properties it initially possessed. Therefore, when a product has oxidized, it is no longer beneficial to the skin, and in some cases, it can be detrimental.”

It’s also important for spas to purchase vitamin-based products from a reputable manufacturer, as D’Amelio warns that some discount websites offer products that have either expired or been stored in inappropriate conditions, which can also reduce the efficacy of the product. Stephen Moore, D.C., founder of MD Solution, admits that it can be difficult to know if a product has gone bad. “Quality control, which requires very expensive equipment, is one of the biggest problems with the supplement industry,” he says. “Look for brands that have a solid scientific team and randomly test their products for quality and purity.”

In order to ensure that the vitamin-based product is still safe to use on the skin and also to receive the maximum potency of the product, Janae Muzzy, vice president of research and development at Epicuren Discovery, suggests using backbar products in their entirety within a few months after opening.  “When vitamin-based products sit in your spa’s cabinets for an extended time, they can lose their efficacy, or even worse, oxidize and become free radicals themselves,” she says. Therefore, it’s important for spas to ensure that all vitamin-based products are stored correctly and used within the recommended time to be sure they are safe for use on clients.

Daily Benefits

Vitamins are essential in helping the body develop and function at its best, and this includes the skin in the form of skincare products with vitamin-based ingredients. According to Muzzy, vitamins are necessary essential nutrients that help our bodies develop and function at their optimum capacity. “Most people think of vitamins as internal supplements for the body, however, they also play an important role in satiating and activating the skin,” she says. “Applied topically, they are delivered in a concentrated form directly to the body’s largest organ—the skin.”

Help your clients care for their skin both inside and out with these nourishing vitamin-based products. 

1. DermaMed C-Difference: Ideal for sensitive skin, this lotion delivers vitamin C to tissues without irritation.

2. Epicuren Discovery CXC Vitamin C Complex: A scientifically advanced blend of vitamin C-based antioxidants neutralizes free radicals and their damaging effects.

3. Guinot Paris Newhite Vitamin C Brightening Serum: This pure vitamin C serum targets spots and evens out the complexion while protecting against free radicals and future damage.

4. Le Mieux Vita-C Serum: Enriched with vitamin B, two forms of vitamin C, and vitamin E, this formula restores a youthful glow, balances uneven tone, and softens

5. MediNiche OcuDerma Eye Gel: Specifically developed to depuff and moisturize the eye area, this gel contains a broad spectrum of vitamins including A, B5, C, D3, and E.

6. PCA Skin Intensive Brightening Treatment: 0.5% Pure Retinol Night: Retinol (vitamin A) evens skintone, targeting red and yellow discoloration, and leaves skin looking radiant.

7. Pevonia YouthRenew Tinted Cream SPF 30: Containing marine collagen, sea whip extract, and vitamin C, this formula conceals and helps repair lines and wrinkles.

8. Repêchage C-Serum Seaweed Filtrate: This highly concentrated seaweed extract is rich in 12 vitamins and helps prevent dehydration and fine lines and restores overall skin vitality.

9. Saian Pure Vitamin C Serum: Containing hyaluronic acid and three potent forms of vitamin C, this powerful antioxidant serum fights free radicals, stimulates collagen production, brightens skintone, and more.

10. Skinprint B5 Bloom Radiance Serum: Leaving the complexion naturally smooth and hydrated, this formula contains vitamins B3 and B5 to promote tissue repair and hyaluronic acid to deeply hydrate skin.

11. Sothys Paris Ultra-C Dermobooster: Vitamin C targets hyperpigmentation and signs of aging to revitalize skin. It also neutralizes free-radical formation to protect against future damage.

12. Yon-Ka Paris Serum Vital: Packed with cereal-germ oil and vitamins B5, E, and F, this serum boosts skin vitality, heals damage, and hydrates to smooth wrinkles and fine lines.