When you’re attempting to lock down the perfect skin-care regimen, finding the products that will address your specific concerns can be extremely overwhelming. Simply investigating ingredients on every box and tube is enough to make your head spin. Thankfully, certain power-nutrients and natural kitchen staples can be utilized for a plethora of facial skin concerns, from acne to aging spots. Here, eight go-tos that experts love and research backs.
1. Vitamin C
Vitamin C, or ascorbic acid, is also one of the hottest nutrients in skin-care—with good reason.
“Every day our delicate skin is exposed to environmental pollutants, such as radiation, sunlight, cancer-causing free radicals, inflammation, and smoking,” explains Rebecca Lee, RN, founder of the natural health resource RemediesForMe.com. “Pollution breaks down our precious collagen and accelerates the aging process. Collagen is the bouncy structural protein that keeps our skin youthful and firm. As we age, the amount of collagen in our skin declines.”
Enter ascorbic acid. “Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant and collagen builder used in many skin serums,” says Emaline K. Brown, ND, a naturopathic doctor at Bastyr University Clinic in San Diego, CA. “Topical ascorbic acid has been shown to improve the appearance of age-related hyperpigmented and photodamaged skin.”
We recommend: The Vitamin Shoppe’s C-1000 Complex
2. Apple cider vinegar
To make your own toner, add one tablespoon of ACV to one cup of warm filtered water. Use this mix to lightly clean your face with a cotton round. Depending on how sensitive your skin is, add more or less ACV.
If you’d like to experiment with DIY face masks, there are plenty out there that feature ACV—like this activated charcoal mud mask. (And if you just can’t get enough of the stuff, here are eight more health and beauty uses for ACV.)
We recommend: Bragg’s Raw Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar
3. Vitamin B3
The B vitamin referred to as nicotinamide (or niacin) can help to minimize the appearance of age spots, according to a study in the British Journal of Dermatology. This is due to vitamin B’s ability to inhibit melanin transfer to skin cells, explains Dr. Brown.
We recommend: Solgar’s 100 mg Niacin tablets
Apply honey (organic and raw, like this YS Royal Jelly, is best, since it contains all-natural ingredients) directly to the skin, she recommends. “Leave the mask on for a few minutes, then rinse it off with warm water.” We recommend these Internet famous Manuka honey mask and scrub recipes.
Pro-tip: Include cinnamon in your mask mixture, as it can help the skin look younger, according to an article in Evidence Based Complimentary Alternative Medicine.
We recommend: YS Royal Jelly’s Raw Manuka Honey
Though you might only associate zinc oxide with sunblock or antidandruff shampoo, it’s more than that: Zinc may actually help promote a balance in the production of oil in the skin—on top of helping to modulate some of the hormones that could lead to pimples, says Neha Suryawanshi, a nutritionist.
We recommend: The Vitamin Shoppe’s Zinc Capsules
You’ve heard of taking probiotics to bolster gut health, but good bacteria is also popping up in everyday skin-care products, thanks to its ability to boost the skin’s natural defense barriers, according to a review published in Beneficial Microbes.
There is increased evidence that probiotics can be used to promote skin health, Lee explains. In fact, a review in Clinics in Plastic Surgery suggests the skin’s microbiota is just as important as the gut’s—which is why probiotics may be useful not just inside, but out.
We recommend: The Vitamin Shoppe’s Ultimate 10 Slow Release Probiotics
7. Vitamin A
Also referred to as retinol, vitamin A in topical form is often used to give the skin a boost, says Suryawanshi. “Vitamin A promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin and deficiencies that can result in a dry, flaky complexion,” she explains.
It’s no wonder it’s such a popular ingredient in anti-aging skin-care products. Research published in the journal JAMA Dermatology concluded that topical retinol improves the appearance of fine wrinkles associated with natural aging by boosting the production of collagen.
We recommend: Ann Webb’s Super Retinol Slow Release Cream
8. Coconut oil
Coconut oil has received much acclaim (and some controversy!)—but there’s no doubt that it’s a rock star when it comes to skin-care. “Coconut oil has several properties that can help improve your complexion,” says Lee. For one, she explains, it’s an emollient, “which increases skin hydration, making it an effective moisturizer for dry skin.”
According to the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, the lauric acid found in coconut oil can be used as a skin health-boosting tool. Some beauty enthusiasts have even sworn by coconut oil as a makeup remover, skin moisturizer, and facial cleanser.
We recommend: Garden of Life’s Organic Virgin Coconut Oil