Beauty supplements can offer a new path to a clear, fresh complexion, but the biggest problem, according to Dr. Charles Passler, is that they can clash with an existing skincare routine and even reverse the effects of your trusted products. And as a nutritionist who works with Victoria’s Secret models like Bella Hadid and Adriana Lima, he certainly knows that's something to avoid. Here, Passler explains how to cocktail your beauty pills with your skin potions for optimal impact.

Is there a science to pairing your skincare with your supplements?

Most definitely! One classic example is when you use exfoliates. It may create free radicals and low level inflammation. [Simultaneously] taking antioxidant supplements can counter the free radicals and inflammation for better and faster outcomes.

How do supplements work to help improve skin, versus topical solutions? Is one more effective than the other?

Supplements are digested, enter your bloodstream and get to your skin from the “inside out.” Topical solutions treat the skin’s surface directly and get absorbed from the “outside in” with less effective absorption. In my experience with patients, combining the right topical with targeted supplements gives the best outcomes for glowing skin.

Are there certain ingredients that work better when taken orally vs. applied topically?

It should be broken down into 3 categories. There are things that are better taken as a supplement, better taken as a topical, and better taken in both forms. Healthy skin is a byproduct of healthy immune, intestinal, hormonal, circulatory, and detox function. Most vitamins (Folic Acid, B6, B12, Vitamin E & D), chelated minerals (Zinc, Selenium, Magnesium & Manganese), omega 3s and certain predigested collagen supplements are better taken in oral supplement form, because they can support all the body’s systems which create healthy skin. Taking them topically would be less effective due to inferior absorption into the whole body.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids, Salicylic Acid, Hyaluronic Acid & Retinol should all be taken topically to deal directly (and only) with the skin for such things as anti-aging, exfoliation, reduction of blemishes and wrinkles.

Some ingredients can be used both ways: Alpha Lipoic Acid reduces fine lines, wrinkles and pore size as a topical, and improves detoxification and immune function as a supplement; Vitamin C improves collagen production and reduces fine lines and wrinkles as a topical, and as a supplement it reduces systemic inflammation and improves immune function; Co-Q10 may reduce “Crow’s Feet” and serve as an anti-aging antioxidant as a topical, and can improve circulation and heart health as a supplement; Aloe reduces inflammation as a topical, and improves digestive function as a supplement.

Is there anything that you should eliminate from your diet if you are using certain topicals?

The food items you should eliminate aren’t because they adversely interact with ingredients in skincare products. It’s just because they hinder the health of your skin.

Can you go overboard on certain supplement ingredients? Let’s say you're using a Vitamin C serum and also taking Vitamin C orally. Is that a problem?

When it comes to vitamins and minerals, the RDA is a general guideline for consumption, but some people may need more or less of certain nutrients according to their physical needs. Just as long as they are not overdosing on nutrients like Vitamin A, Manganese or sodium; the worst thing they’ll probably experience is stomach upset or diarrhea.

What supplement and skincare pairings should everyone include in their diets if they want clear skin?

For prescription skincare: If you are taking an antibiotic like tetracycline for acne, you may also be killing good bacteria in your intestines as well. This may work on the short term, and have the opposite effect on the long term if you don’t take a proven strain of probiotics. I recommend Pure Change’s “Daily Probiotic” to my patients. It contains proven strains of good bacteria to replace the ones killed by antibiotics.

If you’re taking Combined Oral Contraceptives to help with acne, these drugs can be related to B vitamin and certain mineral deficiencies. These nutrients are related to circulatory health and help control inflammation in your body. I recommend a daily supplement that will help replenish the nutrients lost when taking oral contraceptives.

For over-the-counter skincare: Salicylic Acid or Alpha Hydroxy acid treatments can create free radicals and inflammation on the skin. I suggest supplementing these topicals with potent antioxidants to fight free radicals and aging. Healthy omega 3’s to make the skin glow, and highly absorbable minerals to support collagen production and fight inflammation.

If you’re a retin-a or retinol regular, what supplements should you avoid?

The one major supplement ‘no-no” while taking retinol is Vitamin A. If you must take it, please consult your doctor for safe dosages along with retinol.

What kind of regimen would recommend for someone looking to tone and tighten up skin quickly?

The best way to tune up the tightness of your skin is to eliminate the water under the skin that your body holds on to. This is best accomplished through dieting and exercising. Strength training is a better option than cardio. Strength training helps to deplete the water stored in the muscle by burning up the sugar stores. The sugar stores create a lot of water retention. Combine this with a very low carb diet so that the stores are not re-established and you have a perfect one two punch for a leaner look and tighter skin. Give yourself 2-3 days before an event for excellent results.

Another tool to use on the day of the event is a shower where you alternate hot and cold water. This will definitely tighten up the skin and the pores. It is best to have the shower within a couple of hours before the event and to end with a cold shower for best results. For long term and lasting effects, end each of your showers with a blast of cold water.

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