Matcha Pudding Antioxidant Cream. Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel. Peach Pudding Makeup Cleanser.
Those are just in product names. When you look at ingredient lists, you see them even more. Ground Plan’s Cell Power Energy Essence is a waterless essence that has an oatmeal extract base. The Peach & Lily Lazy Day All-in-One Moisture Pads contains extracts from various fruits and vegetables — carrots, broccoli, pomegranate, to name a few. The Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask has multiple berry extracts, including strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
These are all foods we eat, foods that are known to be good for us, and they pop up in skincare all the time. That made us wonder — is it enough for our skin if we just eat foods that are rich in antioxidants and vitamins and nutrients? Or is it better to apply them topically via skincare products? Are some of these ingredients, like berry extracts, just included to make products smell good? We decided to find out.
I eat healthy! Isn’t that enough for skin?
Without getting too science-y, eating versus topically applying ingredients means they reach skin differently.
When you eat something, that food product is digested, broken down, and distributed throughout your body. Your vital organs take priority, so your body can function properly, and skin, despite being the largest organ of the body, is kind of low on the list of priorities. It makes sense when you think about it — you want your brain, lungs, heart, kidneys, liver, etcetera to get everything they need, so you can function and flourish overall. Non-vital organs can come later.
However! That doesn’t mean that skin doesn’t see any effects from you eating well; when you’re healthy and feeding your body properly, your skin has a better chance of also being healthy. The body, after all, is still one unit, and, if one part of it is impacted, whether positively or negatively, that can affect the body as a whole.
It’s like water — you probably know that you should be drinking water regularly throughout the day. People like to say that you should drink a lot of water for healthy, hydrated skin, and that’s true, just not in the ways people might be thinking. The water you drink doesn’t necessarily make it to your skin but goes mainly to your vital organs and picks up waste and toxins, which you’ll dispel as waste as it passes through your body. However, if you’re drinking enough water, you can still see and feel the effects on your skin — it might feel healthier and look clearer, not because the water you drink is going directly to your skin but because your body, overall, is reaping the benefits of being sufficiently hydrated.
As it turns out, food works similarly in a systemic way.
So is applying topically better?
If consuming ingredients works systemically, impacting your body as a whole, topically applying ingredients works only on the areas you target. That makes logical sense — when you apply skincare to your face, you don’t expect to see effects on your knees.
The advantage to topical application is that it delivers higher concentrations of ingredients to skin, which can show more drastic results on skin than consuming those same ingredients might. Because they don’t have to pass through the digestive tract, these ingredients can have a more direct impact on skin, directly addressing specific skin concerns, from breakouts to dullness to visible signs of aging, etcetera.
So which is better?
Honestly? It’s important to do both! Studies even show that the best results come from eating these great ingredients and topically applying them. It’s a more holistic approach that acknowledges the systemic benefits of eating foods that are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and nutrients while also recognizing the benefits of directly targeting skin and addressing specific skin concerns with topical application — and we tend to agree! Skin, after all, is an organ and should be supported from the inside-out!
We hope that helped! Tomorrow, we’ll go into a few of our favorite ingredients that we can eat (or drink!) and apply topically!