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Topical vs. Oral: Best Ways to Improve Skin Health

There are benefits of both topical and oral skin care. Healthycell has the answers in our guide on whether to choose topical or oral supplements for skin health.

02 Sep 2021 • 7 MIN Vincent Giampapa MD
skin health

Your skin is the largest organ in your body, so taking care of it is important for your overall health. There are a few ways to help maintain healthy skin. One is through using topical skincare products. Another is using oral skincare products for better skin care nutrition.

Topical skincare includes serums, skin treatments and moisturizers, while oral skincare may include supplements of vitamin C, E or D. Both topical and oral skincare treatments can be beneficial for your overall skin health depending on the skin issues you’re dealing with and the needs of your body.

In this article we’ll review:

  • What is topical skincare?
  • Different types of topical skincare
  • What are oral skincare supplements?
  • Different types of oral supplements for your skin
  • If you should apply or ingest your supplements

Topical Skincare

Topical skincare products aren’t intended to be ingested, but applied to the surface of the skin instead. Topical products may be used together with oral products in many cases, or they can be used separately.

Some of the most common and beneficial topical skincare items include serums, skin treatments and moisturizers. Each of these works differently to bring a healthy glow back to your skin.


Serums are lightweight skincare products that claim to have a high concentration of active ingredients intended to help your skin, like Vitamin C, kojic acid, peptides and retinol. There are different kinds of serums, such as anti-aging serums, collagen-boosting serums, hydrating serums and brightening serums.These serums are intended to treat a number of skin conditions such as fine lines and wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dull skin and even dark spots.

Serums are applied after you cleanse your skin, but before you moisturize. However, without proper exfoliation, a build-up of dead skin cells on the surface of the skin may block these serums from penetrating your epidermis and being effective.

Moreover, serums are typically used to remedy skin issues that already exist. For those looking to prevent skin issues (like dullness and fine lines), serums may not be the best vehicle for skin nutrition.

Skin Treatments

Skin treatments include a number of options such as laser treatments, microdermabrasion, dermal fillers, botox, chemical peels and others. These are treatments that may address a number of health and cosmetic issues such as age spots, dullness, wrinkles and acne scars. Each treatment has its own benefits and sometimes procedures, but these options tend to be pricey and come with various risks.

  • Laser Treatments- Laser treatments use infrared light to help remove wrinkles by tightening the skin without the need for surgery. The way this works is that the laser heats the skin below the surface. This helps stimulate the release of collagen, which then helps make the skin look tighter. You may not be a candidate for lasers if you have darker skin tones, chronic acne or prone to cold sores [1].
  • Microdermabrasion- Microdermabrasion is designed to remove lighter acne scars and age spots, as well as improve wrinkles. This treatment is not recommended for pregnant people or those with diabetes [2].
  • Dermal Fillers- Dermal fillers help reduce the look of fine lines and the loss of subcutaneous fat. Fillers literally fill the space, so that the skin appears smooth and supple. Although this procedure is good for those with deep wrinkles, it is not recommended for smokers and only lasts around two years before you need to get another treatment [3].
  • Botox- Botox is a cosmetic medication that may be injected into the muscles to reduce the appearance of moderate or severe crow’s feet, wrinkles and forehead lines. Although a popular method for skin improvements, Botox can be a more expensive option [4].
  • Chemical Peels- Chemical peels include treatments to correct the skin’s texture, color or fine lines. Chemical peels may help reduce or remove signs of sun damage, like dark spots. These come in different strengths, but not recommended for those with darker skin tones or history of skin scarring [5].


Moisturizing is an important part of your skincare routine. Moisturizing helps you reduce skin problems such as extreme oiliness or dryness.

Not all moisturizers are the same. It’s smart to use lotion and moisturizer that has an SPF of 15 or higher to protect your skin when you’re in the sun. Look for moisturizers that contain PABA-Free SPF-sunscreen along with vitamins A, B5, E, and C [6].

Oral Supplements for Skin Care

Oral supplements are another way to get the vitamins and nutrients needed for healthy skin. Your diet can impact the health of your skin, which is why you should consider oral supplements for skin health.

While studies haven’t yet identified specific foods that cause issues like acne or other skin conditions, scientists and researchers have found that there are supplements that can help improve your skin.


You’ve probably been told to take biotin for healthy skin, hair and nails, and that’s because it helps break down carbs, proteins and fats [7]. Also known as Vitamin B-7, biotin is a water-soluble vitamin that has an effect on fat-metabolism, which is important for skin health.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is one of several oral vitamins for skin health. It is also known as ascorbic acid and L-ascorbic acid, which you may recognize from topical and oral treatments. Did you know that the body does not naturally produce vitamin C on its own? Even though that’s the case, vitamin C is a necessary vitamin and essential nutrient.

Vitamin C plays an important role in the body. It helps with tissue repair and the production of certain transmitters. Vitamin C also helps promote the production of collagen, which will help reduce fine lines and thicken the dermis. This helps you maintain healthier, more youthful skin.
Since vitamin C is an antioxidant, it protects the cells from damage caused by UV exposure as well.
For people who have dark spots or discoloration, vitamin C has another benefit: It inhibits melanin production. This assists in evening out the skin tone, reducing the appearance of brown spots and lightening hyperpigmentation.

Lastly, vitamin C helps encourage cell regeneration and turnover, so that it can repair damage from the sun or loss of collagen over time.

Vitamin E

Vitamin E is one of the other oral vitamins for skin and an antioxidant that may be helpful in reducing damage from UV rays. It’s found in many foods, such as nuts, seeds and leafy vegetables. The National Institutes of Health suggest that women who are breastfeeding should have a daily intake of 19 milligrams of vitamin E. Teens, pregnant women and other adults should consider getting 15 mg of vitamin E daily. Some people, such as those with cystic fibrosis or other conditions that make it hard to absorb fat, should consider taking a supplement. They may need more vitamin E than others [8].

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in skin health. It helps regulate many of the psychological processes of the skin ranging from immune functions to cellular proliferation. It’s used during skin synthesis, metabolism and other activities.

Did you know that not getting enough vitamin D could put you at a higher risk of developing atopic dermatitis or psoriasis [9]? Vitamin D can be used, and is considered beneficial, in treating these inflammatory disorders of the skin.

The sun is the primary source of vitamin D for the majority of people, so getting just 5 to 30 minutes of sun twice a week may be enough to stimulate the production of Vitamin D3 at an adequate level. We advise you to use SPF to protect your skin from overexposure to harmful rays.

Those who have a vitamin D deficiency benefit from taking vitamin D supplements. With the right amount of vitamin D in the body, the skin is more resistant against photodamage from the sun. Vitamin D also plays a role in tissue repair and wound healing, so if you bruise easily and heal slowly, this could be a cause.


Selenium is a leading mineral for skin health. With benefits ranging from fighting free radicals to reduce signs of aging, to reducing inflammation caused by UV rays or poor dieting, selenium is essential for healthy skin [10]. Selenium is often found in foods we do not typically eat, like animal brain, kidney, liver, heart and tongue. A supplement containing an appropriate amount of selenium is important for skin health.

To Apply or Ingest?

Should you apply or ingest a supplement? That depends on your goals and the supplement you’re looking at, but typically we recommend ingesting your supplements. Healthycell uses MICROGEL™ technology in our gel formula to increase nutrient absorption by releasing small, ultra-bioavailable, soluble nutrient particles in the digestive tract. One gel vitamin pack contains the same amount of nutrients as five pill capsules.

Your skin is an organ that is your immune system’s first line of defense. Understanding this is important, because you do need to find a treatment that uses liposomal delivery methods. Without that, most topical agents are unlikely to penetrate the skin deep enough to make much of a difference, since the skin’s role is to repel foreign substances.

For this reason, oral supplementation may be easier than a topical skin regimen. Our vitamins are easily taken in drink mixes or straight from the gel pack.

One of a Kind Bioactive Multi from Healthycell

adult multivitamin

If you’re looking for a daily multivitamin that promotes skin health, Healthycell’s Bioactive Multi contains biotin, Vitamin E, Vitamin D3, Selenium, and Vitamin C, in absorbable forms. Hopefully it’s clear to you that the secret to improving skin health comes mostly from within, instead of from topically applied agents or expensive treatments. Try this gel vitamin for adults and get started on feeding your cells to optimize your skin health and your overall quality of life.