Ingestible Beauty Is Trending. Here’s What Dermatologists Really Think About It
Dull skin? There’s a pill for that. Hair not growing fast enough? Ditto. Heck, there are even pills that are supposed to protect your skin from the sun. And to be perfectly honest, we were a bit skeptical about whether these beauty supplements actually work, so we consulted some of the smartest skin-care experts we know: dermatologists.
Undoubtedly one of the most popular supplements, it’s often touted as a fix all for thinning hair. The good news? "[Biotin] has been proven to make hair and nails stronger," says Lauren Ploch, who practices at the Georgia Dermatology and Skin Cancer Center in Georgia. However, "it has not actually been proven to increase the rate of hair or nail growth. Many people take Biotin to stimulate hair growth, but the evidence is still lacking," she explains.
Collagen is a key structural protein in our skin that decreases as we age, which results in fine lines and sagging. So you can see why the idea of being able to replenish your collagen by drinking or ingesting it is enticing for many. "Unfortunately, dietary intake of collagen is largely ineffective because it’s broken down by your digestive system," explains Gabriel Martinez-Diaz, a physician at M.D. Aesthetics and Dermatology in Chicago. "Until we have better evidence for collagen supplements, I tell my patients the best treatment is to prevent collagen loss in the first place by using a zinc-based sunblock and living a healthy lifestyle (i.e., skip the alcohol and tobacco)," adds Ashley Kittridge, a board-certified dermatologist in Pennsylvania.
"For people with a history of nonmelanoma skin cancer, I advocate for niacinamide supplements, which have shown to decrease the rate of future skin cancers," says Danny Del Campo, the medical director at the Chicago Skin Clinic. "I also recommend polypodium leucotomos, or Heliocare, which has a fern extract that has many medicinal properties including decreasing cell oxidative stress and pigmentation." The more you know.
"Most of the supplements out there don't have any adequate research behind them. While I'm open to the possibility of benefits, we just haven’t seen proof yet," says Dhaval Bhanusali, a medical and cosmetic dermatologist in New York City. Until then, all of our experts agree that your number one defense against premature aging is...(drumroll)...good old sunscreen.