Beauty supplements – those you consume for your skin, hair or nails – are more than just health supplements. Dr SK Tan, founder of IDS Clinic, an aesthetics clinic, says it may be better to call them skin supplements, as they “usually contain antioxidants or vitamins shown to benefit skin”. These include photo-protection, skin barrier repair and, sometimes, skin brightening.
Co-founder of supplement brand Miriqa, Winthrop Wong, who is also a pharmacist and director of Wellchem Pharmaceuticals, says supplements can benefit your beauty routine. “The health of our skin and hair is a reflection of our diet, and inadequate intake of certain nutrients may affect our hair and skin.”
Sounds good – but isn’t your daily serum or moisturiser enough? Wong says this “dual approach” gives your skin “optimal benefits”: Apply skincare on the surface and, from the inside, supplement skin with what your body lacks from your diet.
And while some ingredients do get destroyed in the stomach before they reach the intestines where they can be absorbed, here’s where R&D comes in. “Dosage of the ingredients matters,” says Wong. Two brands might use the same ingredients, but the concentration might be far more optimal in one than the other. So check the ingredients list – the one with the higher concentration will be listed higher up.
Dr Tan says you can also look out for ingredients that help with absorption, such as black pepper extract (piperine), found in IDS Lyco-White Ultra skin supplements. The patented ingredient is “suitable for improving gastrointestinal absorption”, and encourages the total use of the nutrients in the formula.
Some sceptics may ask: Why can’t I take multivitamins instead? Theoretically, you could. But Wong says it depends on the type of antioxidants used, how well it gets absorbed, and if it has clinically proven results.
Take Miriqa Hair. It uses tripeptide collagen, which has a molecular weight small enough to be easily absorbed by the body, while Miriqa Skin uses tomatoes with colourless carotenoids, which have been backed by clinical studies as potent antioxidants for the skin.
Whether you choose capsule, powder or liquid form, it doesn’t matter as Dr Tan says the difference in absorption rates aren’t significant.
And more is not merrier either, he says. Pick what you need based on your main concerns.
Wong adds that while most supplements can be taken together, some may have overlapping ingredients. To ensure that the combination stays within safe limits, check with your doctor or use the Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) as a guide.