Do You Need Supplements for Better Skin? Heres what the Science Says

1. Collagen

If you religiously add a scoop of collagen to your coffee every morning or pop a daily collagen supplement in hopes that it will boost the health of your skin, you’re not alone.

Collagen supplements are among the most popular supplements marketed toward those who want healthier skin.

Scientists are still researching how collagen supplements affect the skin, but there is some evidence that they may help improve certain aspects of skin health, including wrinkle depth, elasticity, and hydration.

However, scientists warn that although collagen supplements have been shown to offer skin benefits in some studies, media and marketing claims are often exaggerated.

So, while collagen supplements are by no means a fountain of youth, taking collagen regularly might help improve certain aspects of skin health. Plus, collagen supplements are safe and haven’t been linked to any downsides.

If you feel that collagen may help you, check out ishonest’s picks of the best collagen supplements for skin health here.

2. Fish oil (omega-3 fatty acids)

According to buzz in the health and wellness world, there’s not much that omega-3-rich fish oil can’t do. Omega-3s have been shown to benefit health in a number of ways, such as by boosting heart health and easing joint pain.

But can they improve the appearance of your skin?

Omega-3 fats play important roles in skin function, and inadequate intake of them can negatively affect your skin and even cause skin diseases.

Research suggests that omega-3 supplements can benefit those with skin conditions such as atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, acne, and skin ulcers. Omega-3 supplements may also help protect against skin cancers.

However, there’s not a whole lot of evidence that omega-3 supplements improve the actual appearance of skin, other than by helping to clear acne.

So, while omega-3 supplements may be a good choice for skin conditions like acne and psoriasis and can benefit the health of the heart, brain, and more, there’s not enough evidence to support taking them if your only goal is to improve your skin’s appearance.

Want to give omega-3 supplements a try to help with a skin condition? Talk it over with a dermatologist or another health professional, and then check out ishonest’s picks of the best fish oil supplements here.

4. Biotin

Biotin is a B vitamin that is one of the main ingredients in most hair, skin, and nails supplements.

Even though many people swear by biotin for glowing skin and strong hair, there’s no evidence that biotin supplements benefit the skin, hair, or nails or improve skin appearance — unless you actually have a biotin deficiency.

Biotin deficiency is rare, and biotin supplements aren’t usually necessary for generally healthy people who maintain a balanced diet. That’s because several foods, such as eggs and oats, contain biotin, and your gut bacteria produce it as well.

Not only are biotin supplements unnecessary for improving skin health, but they can also interfere with important laboratory tests such as thyroid function tests. That interference can be dangerous, especially in emergency situations.

So, unless you have a reason to supplement with biotin, don’t waste your money on biotin supplements in the hope of improving the appearance of your skin.

5. Multinutrient supplements

Multivitamins can be helpful for people who don’t get enough micronutrients through their diet, but do you need them for skin health?

Some research suggests that supplements containing blends of vitamins, minerals, and other ingredients may help improve common skin concerns such as dryness and dullness — at least in certain people.

A 2019 study including 50 women ages 35–65 found that those who took a supplement containing a blend of vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and other ingredients for 12 weeks experienced significant improvements in skin dullness, dryness, pigmentation, and overall appearance compared with a placebo group.

Taking a multivitamin could also improve skin appearance in people who have deficiencies or insufficiencies in certain nutrients that impact skin health, such as vitamin C, vitamin A, certain B vitamins, and zinc.

Ready to start taking a multivitamin? After getting the OK from a healthcare professional, consider our picks of the best vitamin brands here.

6. Probiotics

Probiotics are commonly used to support gut health, which is important for healthy skin.

Dysbiosis — an imbalance in the community of microbes that lives in your gut — can lead to significant skin issues. In fact, dysbiosis is linked to conditions that affect the skin, such as acne and rosacea.

Probiotic supplements may help restore healthy gut bacteria balance and have been shown to support people with conditions such as acne and dermatitis. However, “balancing” your gut is not as simple as popping a probiotic every day.

Diet, lifestyle, sleep, and stress levels are just some of the many factors that influence gut health.

If you have acne or other skin conditions that may benefit from a probiotic, consider asking a dermatologist for recommendations.

If you don’t have any skin conditions but are interested in supporting your gut to improve the appearance of your skin, it’s important to understand that probiotic supplements aren’t appropriate or necessary for everyone.

It’s best to get advice from a health professional, such as a registered dietitian, before taking probiotics — especially if you’re dealing with gastrointestinal issues or have a medical condition that affects your immune system.

Whether it’s a tried-and-true skin care regimen, how often you wash your hair, or the cosmetics you’re curious about, beauty is personal.

We only recommend what we genuinely love, so if you see a shop link to a specific product or brand, know that our team has thoroughly researched it.

So, are supplements necessary for healthy skin?

Even though supplements can help improve certain skin conditions, such as acne, and are necessary for people who don’t or can’t get enough nutrients from their diet, they’re not usually necessary for skin health.

The truth is, when it comes to skin care, supplements can’t take the place of a nutritious diet.

If you’re generally healthy and simply want to take care of your skin from the inside out, take a look at your diet to see what it might be missing.

To maintain skin health, try your best to:

  • maintain optimal hydration
  • eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • include healthy sources of fat and protein in your meals and snacks
  • limit your consumption of foods linked to poor skin health, such as sugary and ultra-processed foods

For example, research suggests that a healthy diet high in plant foods like fruits can help improve the health and appearance of skin and may help support healthy skin aging.

This is because fruits and vegetables, along with other plant- and animal-based nutrient-dense foods, contain compounds that protect against cellular damage. These compounds can help preserve skin health.

Avoiding cigarette smoke and excessive alcohol consumption is key for maintaining skin health too.

Can supplements cause skin issues?

While some supplements may help improve certain aspects of skin health and appearance, others may have the opposite effect.

Studies show that supplements such as certain B vitamins, high iodine kelp products, and whey protein can actually trigger or aggravate acne.

Kelp supplements have been shown to trigger dermatitis as well because they contain high concentrations of the mineral iodine, which can stimulate enzyme activity linked to dermatitis.

If you recently started taking a supplement and have noticed skin changes, reach out to a healthcare professional for advice.

While supplements may be helpful or necessary in certain situations, they’re usually not necessary to maintain healthy skin in people who generally follow a well-rounded diet. Plus, some supplements can trigger skin issues such as dermatitis and acne.

The bottom line

Studies show that supplements like collagen, vitamin C, and multivitamins may help improve certain aspects of skin appearance like hydration and wrinkles, while probiotics and omega-3s could be helpful for people with skin conditions such as acne.

Even though some dietary supplements might improve certain aspects of skin health, supplements usually aren’t necessary to maintain healthy skin, even as you age.

If you’re interested in caring for your skin from the inside out, it’s best to focus on following a nutrient-dense diet high in plant foods such as fruits and vegetables.

Staying hydrated, getting enough sleep, avoiding cigarettes, and limiting alcohol consumption are important steps to take too.

Just one thing

Diet and skin health are closely linked, so if you’re looking for an easy way to care for your skin, consider making some dietary changes. One great place to start? Increase your intake of foods rich in nutrients that support skin health, such as fruits, vegetables, omega-3-rich seafood, and healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and olive oil.