Dr Geoff Mullan
The humanpeople skin supercharger selection
A question I often get asked is “what supplements actually work to improve skin?”. It’s a good question and there is no one single answer.
When it comes to the best support for the skin the answer is often what is best for the body. If your health is not optimal then the chances of having healthy skin are low.
A healthy and well-balanced diet is always the most important consideration. However, it is also possible to supercharge your nutrient intake to improve skin health even more.
One of the biggest problems I see with “skin boosting” supplements is that the dose is wrong. Many well-known premium products have some great ingredients, but, according to the scientific research, these ingredients are hardly ever at the correct strength to have much impact.
A dusting of those ingredients into a couple of pills is not going to do much. My advice is to take the right amount or save your pennies.
There are several types of supplements that support healthy skin:
- Barrier builders
- Collagen builders
Many of the recommended supplements do more than one of these.
Let’s start with the best skin antioxidants. The skin is constantly being bombarded by UV and HEV (high energy visible) light, which can damage the skin. These photons of light hit an oxygen molecule in the body and form a free radical. Free radicals then attack and damage:
In the short to medium term this causes damage:
- DNA and RNA
In the longer term this causes:
- Skin pigmentation
- To collagen and elastin, causing wrinkles
The aim is to stop this happening and also to reverse the process: reduce inflammation, improve hydration, fine lines, wrinkles, and pigmentation. In the longer term, stop the DNA damage that leads to rough skin and cancers.
- Skin thinning (atrophy).
- Skin cancer by damaging DNA in cells
- Skin inflammation
Supplement 1: resveratrol (recommended strength 150mg as trans-resveratrol)
The evidence stacks up well for resveratrol, but only at the right dose and type: trans-resveratrol. It is commonly added to supplements in tiny amounts that do nothing.
Not only does it help aged skin, but multiple studies have shown that it has:
It’s top of the list because it has so many other health benefits. It’s even in red wine, but before you get too excited the marketing has got ahead of the science here: there is less than 0.9mg in a glass of red wine, which is far too low a dose to have any effect.
- Anti-inflammatory properties and reduces psoriasis inflammation in skin
- Anti-cancer properties; preventing cancer, slowing growth and progression.
- Longevity properties via the activation of sirtuin. This effect is enhanced when taken with another longevity supplement called NMN. This work is currently being pioneered by Dr David Sinclair.
- Antibacterial and antifungal properties
- Collagen boosting properties: it reduces “inflammageing” by inhibiting the MMP1 enzymes that break down collagen, although the full mechanism of how this works is not clear.
- Helps with wound healing and scarring (1).
Supplement 2: astaxanthin (recommended strength 7mg as non-synthetic astaxanthin)
Astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that gives crustaceans their orange pinkish hue. It's also what makes flamingoes pink!
Studies (2) have shown that in skin it reduces lines and wrinkles and increases hydration. It is good for inflamed skin. It also has significant health benefits, such as lowering cholesterol and the risk of heart disease.
What does it do?
Studies have shown that it:
- Stops the formation of damaging oxidative free radicals in the skin
- Activates the body’s antioxidant (NrF2) mechanisms.
- Boosts the production of glutathione and upregulates important enzymes (catalase and SOD2).
- Reduces inflammation not just in the skin, but in the whole body. This explains how it reduces heart and vascular disease.
- Reduces skin damage and the breakdown of collagen by MMP1.
Astaxanthin is found in small amounts in krill oil and they may enhance each other's effects, so it’s a good idea to take them together.
- Reduces lines and wrinkles
- Improves skin hydration
- Reduces skin redness after exposure to sun.
Supplement 3: basic skin antioxidant combination (vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, with selenium)
Vitamin C and E work together in the skin: you need to boost both to get benefits.
In fact glutathione, vitamin C, and vitamin E all interact with each other in the skin defence. Selenium is required for the production of glutathione, so balancing all of these together is essential. humanpeople’s antioxidant boost supplement contains all three of these.
However, there is no doubt that the best way to get vitamin E and vitamin C is from diet. What’s great is that this is so easy to do: eat lots of fresh fruit and vegetables for vitamin C; and palm fruit like papaya as well as barley and wheat germ are a great natural source of vitamin E.
Vitamin A is essential for the building of healthy skin and epithelium in the gut and lungs. It is converted from beta carotene, the orange pigment found in carrots and pumpkins into vitamin A.
Supplement 4: glutathione / n-acetyl cysteine (NAC) (recommended strength 600mg)
Glutathione is the key skin antioxidant and the most important antioxidant in the body. The most efficient way to increase glutathione levels is to take its precursor, n-acetyl cysteine. Zinc also helps to increase levels.
Save your money and avoid the expensive and disgusting tasting liposomal glutathione - it doesn’t even work as well!
Glutathione does a lot more it is essential for the electrochemical process of making energy, slowing ageing, normal immune function and removing heavy metals from the body.
Sulphur containing vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and onions are essential for glutathione levels.
Skin barrier builders
The most common blood deficiency we see in our testing (96%) is omega 3. The modern diet is low in omegas and the body can only convert 5% of the plant-based omega 3s like flax into the type we need. In the skin they are needed to create a barrier, by holding in moisture and maintaining a healthy sebum (oil) on the skin.
Essential fatty acids: “the omegas”.
If you have sensitive skin or are prone to eczema, psoriasis, contact hypersensitivity, and sun, then optimising our old friends the “omegas” is a must.
Multiple studies and review articles have shown their benefit in maintaining a well hydrated skin with a normal reaction to inflammation. Omegas also have multiple benefits across the body. Amazingly 60% of grey matter in the brain is made from fatty acids. Depending on the structure of the fatty acid they are known as omega 3, 6 and 9 fatty acids. DHA and EPA are the two most important omega 3’s for skin. GLA (gamma linoleic acid) is an omega 6 that is essential for skin health.
Read our article on omegas to know more.
What do they do?
- Strengthen and smooth the skin surface
- Reduce inflammation and irritation
- Have anti-cancer effect on skin
- Reduce dry and flaky skin
- Improve moisture and hydration by improving retention of water in the skin
- Improve wound healing after burns and ulcers.
Supplement 5: omega 3 or krill oil.
Krill oil (4)(5) has the edge over pure omega 3 when it comes to skin due to its extra phospholipid, choline and astaxanthin contents but both are good. Recommended doses are 1000mg krill oil or 1000mg omega 3.
Read more about omega 3 in our article.
Krill are at the bottom of the food chain and so are contaminant free. We like Superba Krill because they engage in responsible and sustainable practices.
What does the phospholipid do?
Phospholipids are the main structure of the cell membranes in our body and so are essential for a strong skin barrier. They are also a naturally powerful humectant, locking in moisture. This leads to hydrated skin and a barrier that functions well.
Choline is an essential nutrient that reduces as we age, especially in peri-menopause. It regulates the water content of skin cells and maintains moisture levels.
Krill is also more easily absorbed and is in a form that is more actively available to the body. That means lower doses are needed to get a similar increase in omega 3 in the body.
Omega 3’s have been examined in double blinded studies (3) and have been shown to:
Omega 6 contains linoleic acid, found in borage oil and evening primrose oil. This has been found to improve comedogenic acne and psoriasis.
- Improve atopic dermatitis (eczema SCORAD scores)
- Improve psoriasis (area scores and quality of life).
Supplement 6: marine collagen (7-10g per day)
In March 2021 the first significant review looked at all of the clinical studies on collagen that involved high powered randomised controlled trials.
The conclusion was that the ideal amount of collagen to improve skin texture, wrinkles, and hydration was 7g of marine collagen peptides for a minimum of 4 weeks. At 10g there is evidence that there is also joint relief.
Again, the right type and strength of collagen is essential - you can read our detailed article on collagen peptides here
and see more details on humanpeople's collagen here.
To maintain good skin health a number of factors are needed:
Tiny doses do nothing, but get the strength and combination right and you will start to see better hydrated, smoother, more vibrant skin.
You can find our skin supercharger supplement pack here and our wider selection of supplements here. Separate tubs of collagen peptide powder are also available.
- High levels of antioxidants to protect the skin and reduce inflammation and sensitivity.
- Omega 3 fatty acids, phospholipids and choline to maintain structure and hydration.
- Collagen peptides to improve the skin structure and maintain a thick and healthy dermis.
1) The impact of resveratrol on skin wound healing, scarring, and aging Review May 2021 Open Access
2) Astaxanthin in Skin Health, Repair, and Disease: A Comprehensive Review Nutrients 2018
3) Omega 3 Fatty Acid and Skin Diseases Immunol Feb 2021
4) Cosmetic and Therapeutic Applications of Fish Oil’s Fatty Acids on the Skin Mar Drugs 2018 Aug
5) Supplemental feeding of phospholipid-enriched alkyl phospholipid from krill relieves spontaneous atopic dermatitis and strengthens skin intercellular lipid barriers in NC/Nga mice Biosci biocehc biochem