Edible Beauty: Should We be Drinking Vitamin C?


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A skin-care smoothie? A serum shot? From Hailey Bieber’s viral Strawberry Glaze Skin Smoothie at LA-based grocery store Erewhon to every pill, patch and gummy on the market, it seems like we want to eat our way to our best skin. Edible beauty has been trending recently, and these days it’s ingestible vitamin C that’s started catching attention. And it has us wondering, how much can we trust these beautifying claims?

We asked the experts to break down how vitamin C works for our skin and if it will work taken orally. Read ahead for a look inside what dermatologists think of edible beauty claims.

  • Daniel Schlessinger, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in Omaha, NE
  • Jeanine Downie, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in Montclair, NJ

Edible Beauty Is on the Rise

Multivitamins used to be uncool. If you’ve ever taken a Flintstones gummy, you know what we mean.

But these days? With beauty tech and innovation surging by leaps and bounds and social media bringing the buying experience right into our personal space, supplements have seen new life. New clinical studies, new ingredients and new formulations are crowding the market with more claims than ever before.

Beauty supplements have grown by a billion dollars since 2018, according to Verified Research Market. And they’re only expected to get bigger. And according to Nutritional Outlook, 91 percent of Americans increased their VMS (vitamin, mineral, and supplements) during the pandemic.

With sleeker formulations, more studies to back up their claims and even new methods of injesting them, beauty supplements are likely here to stay. But are all of them created equal?

Is Vitamin C a Good Beauty Supplement?

The real question: will vitamin C taken orally actually do anything for your skin?

“There really isn’t any good data that demonstrates that the vitamin C that you’re swallowing is actually ending up in your skin,” says Omaha, NE dermatologist Daniel Schlessinger, MD. “When you do something like drink water, we know for a fact that that water is being transferred everywhere in your body, we know it ends up in your skin. That’s a clear link. We don’t have that for vitamin C.”

That’s not to say that vitamin C doesn’t do stuff in your body when you take it orally.

When taken orally, vitamin C is necessary for the regeneration of all of our tissues. It’s a critical part of the process of healing wounds, as well as repairing and maintaining bones and teeth. Severe vitamin C deficiency, also called scurvy, includes symptoms like bleeding gums, easy bruising and fatigue. We get vitamin C through fruits and veggies, and according to Mt. Sinai, deficiency is rare, but plenty of people could use more of it in their diets.

So it is a critical vitamin and part of our diet that does a series of important jobs. It’s just that skin-care promises are unlikely to come true. “It is true that taking vitamin C orally for skin care is simply not that beneficial,” agrees Montclair, NJ dermatologist Jeanine Downie, MD.

Is Edible Beauty for Real?

“In general, I think beauty supplements are mediocre except for Nutrafol, which actually works very well,” says Dr. Downie. “Beauty supplements need clinical trials to prove their effectiveness.”

Nutrafol has a plethora of clinical research and published research to back up their formulas. Their hair-restoration products are NewBeauty and expert favorites.

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When it comes to supplements promising anti-aging benefits, there was one that stuck out to Dr. Schlessinger.

“One that I think of is Heliocare ($31), which has been studied and peer reviewed,” he says. “You really want to see peer-reviewed data before trusting any of these claims.”


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