The Craze Behind Vitamin D Skincare Products, Explained

by Jessica DeFino

While your childhood Flintstones Gummies may have graduated to pills and capsules in adulthood, that’s not where the vitamin evolution ends. Lately, people are feeding their faces in a whole new way — with topical serums, moisturizers, and oils packed with skin-healthy supplements. Vitamins A, C, and E in particular are having a moment (tell me you don’t own at least one vitamin C serum), but another super vitamin is quietly gaining strength in the beauty space: Vitamin D skincare products, which are poised to replace all your vitamin C ones very soon, according to dermatologists.

You’re probably already familiar with the benefits of vitamin D from an ingestible standpoint: It builds strong bones. “Oral supplementation with vitamin D3 — the active form of vitamin D — is something that should occur regardless of skincare, as it’s an important nutrient for bone health,” Dr. Neil Sadick, a dermatologist with Sadick Dermatology in NYC, tells The Zoe Report. “It has general anti-inflammatory properties that benefit skin health in the long run as well.”

In addition, the body naturally absorbs vitamin D from the sun. “Exposure to the sun for 15 to 20 minutes a few times a week stimulates the skin to produce vitamin D3,” the dermatologist explains, “But topical vitamin D3 has also been used in [skincare] formulations.” This makes sense considering the other effects of sitting out in the sun (like premature aging and skin cancer) and the numerous benefits of adequate vitamin D absorption.

“The main benefits of topical vitamin D lie in its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative, proliferative, and skin repairing properties,” Dr. Sadick says. The phrase anti-inflammatory is one that should immediately trigger a double dose of heart eyes, since inflammation is at the root of pretty much all skin conditions — from acne to eczema to garden variety redness. And because vitamin D is anti-oxidative as well (aka, it’s an antioxidant), this substance neutralizes the effects of pollution on the skin. While those two benefits are great — who doesn’t want less inflammation and more environmental protection? — they’re not exactly unique. A handful of other vitamins (like the aforementioned A, C, and E) boast the same.

But “proliferative” and “skin-repairing?” This is where vitamin D sets itself apart. In layman’s terms, this substance has the power to regenerate skin cells and repair damage; essentially upping the skin’s resilience, strengthening its barrier, and evening out tone and texture. “It is absolutely one of my favorite ingredients to help improve and preserve the integrity of the skin,” Suzanne LeRoux, green beauty expert and founder of One Love Organics, tells TZR. This makes it an especially smart pick for those who have sensitive, irritated, or compromised skin (maybe from an overzealous application of benzoyl peroxide or retinol?), and stands in contrast to the sometimes-sensitizing properties of vitamin C.

“A research study has shown that daily application of vitamin D3 cream of 5,000 IU — more than 10 times the recommended oral dose — had therapeutic benefits to people suffering from psoriasis,” Dr. Sadick adds; although he notes there’s limited data out there about how well vitamin D actually absorbs into the skin.

For best results, he recommends looking for an oil-based vitamin D3 formulation, like Zelens Power D High Potency Provitamin D Treatment Drops, as most forms of the vitamin are fat-soluble (meaning they dissolve in fats and oils). “The form of D that we use is from organic shiitake mushrooms,” LeRoux says of One Love Organics Vitamin D Moisture Mist. “It’s water-soluble and has astringent, pore refining, and moisturizing properties that benefit the appearance of skin.”

“Use of vitamin D3 should not result in any irritations, and there are no reports of its use associated with any sensitivities,” Dr. Sadick tells TZR. Another bonus? It won’t negatively interact with any of your other skincare products, per the dermatologist, so it’s safe to incorporate into virtually any skincare lineup.

Strong bones, strong skin, can’t lose. Ahead, 12 ways to get your daily dose of vitamin D.

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