No good skincare routine is complete without the right vitamins. It’s that simple! Just as they help keep your body at its healthiest, vitamins also have powerful skin benefits.
A number of them - Vitamins A, C and E - have antioxidant properties, which means that they help to counteract the free-radical damage that causes the visible signs of ageing. Vitamin A is also an amazing multitasker, used for stimulating collagen production, and treating a range of skin conditions, from acne to scarring. Meanwhile, Vitamin C is responsible for giving the skin translucency and glow, and for addressing skin pigmentation and age spots, while Vitamin E offers protection from UV damage and inflammation. And let’s not forget Vitamins B3 and B5, which are becoming increasingly popular, thanks to their ability to keep the skin’s barrier strong, healthy, and protected against irritation. (To find out more about what the different vitamins can do for your skin, visit our ingredient glossary here).
Not all vitamins are created equal
But here’s the twist: while we’re singing the virtues of vitamins, it’s important to remember that some are more effective at helping the complexion than others. It’s not just about having a vitamin or two on the ingredients list - thought must also be given to the quantities that are used, and how they will actually penetrate the skin’s layers, so they can get right down to the level where they can have the biggest benefit. Otherwise, many of them will simply sit on the skin’s surface - which isn’t always the best place for them to be.
And that’s where encapsulation technology comes in. In a nutshell, encapsulation simply means that the vitamins are wrapped in a lipid (or fat) layer that acts as a carrier, allowing them to penetrate deeper into the skin. Encapsulation technology isn’t only used with vitamins, and nor is it exclusive to skincare; in fact, it’s being tested for use in new medical applications all the time. For example, a blend of essential fatty acids (EFAs) were recently tested as a carrier, for their ability to deliver the anti-inflammatory drug flurbiprofen into the body, with positive results.
London skin expert Linda Meredith calls encapsulation technology “amazing”, and considers it to be one of the most exciting advances in skincare right now.
The main benefits of encapsulation
So what’s the big deal about the vitamins penetrating deeper into the skin? We’re glad you asked! Firstly, it means their active qualities can be released more slowly and consistently. As Linda Meredith says: “It’s like me saying to you that if you have a cold and you take a 24-hour release tablet, it will release it over time.”
The same principle applies here. The vitamins are not only delivered into the skin, they are then able to go to work more consistently. One study has found that without the right encapsulation, Vitamin C and Vitamin E delivered a big burst of activity within the first six hours after the product was applied, followed by much less action. However when the vitamins were correctly delivered, that initial burst of activity was reduced, and instead it was released in a more sustained way, over a longer time period. This means that your skin gets more of the benefits, and for longer.
The second reason encapsulated vitamins are big news, is because they’ve been found to be much better tolerated by and less irritating to the skin, because they aren’t simply sitting on the surface. Linda Meredith notes, “Take Vitamin C: topically it will peel the skin but if it’s encapsulated, it’s so tiny, it’s absorbed into the skin.”
A similar result has been found with Vitamin A, which has often caused significant skin irritation (a downside to all its wonderful properties). In a paper published just recently, scientists found that tretinoin - a form of Vitamin A with anti-acne and anti-ageing properties - could be used without irritation, when it was encapsulated in specially designed lipid carriers. Without encapsulation, the same vitamin typically caused skin irritation within three days of using it.
Think of it as all of the benefits, with none of the drawbacks.
Where to find encapsulated vitamins
Linda Meredith is so convinced of the benefits of encapsulation technology that she works with a formulator to include them in her skincare as much as possible. The signature vitamin balm, Amazon, includes encapsulated Vitamin C, allowing it to penetrate deeper into the skin. And the cult favourite Oxygen Mask uses Vitamin B to help the skin look more radiant and healthy.