In the pursuit of flawless and radiant skin, we often prioritize an array of skin care products and the nourishment we consume through food. However, the foundation of a truly effective skincare routine lies in understanding the importance of proper skincare and diet and the role they play in our overall health and appearance. Skincare goes beyond mere aesthetics; it is an essential aspect of self-care that addresses the delicate areas of our face, neck, and chest, requiring specific regimens tailored to cleansing, moisturizing, and treating various skin conditions.
This article explores the best minerals for the skin, revealing their transformative potential in daily skincare routines and dietary choices. From enhancing skin repair and protection to promoting elasticity and reducing signs of ageing, these minerals have the potential to revolutionize our approach to skincare and diet.
Understanding minerals and their benefits for skin
Minerals are inorganic elements derived from soil and water, assimilated by plants and animals. Certain minerals, such as calcium, are essential in larger quantities for growth and overall well-being, while others, referred to as trace minerals, like chromium, copper, iodine, iron, selenium, and zinc, are only needed in minimum amounts.
While vitamins often take the spotlight in discussions about skin health, the significance of minerals in skincare remains severely overlooked. Despite making up only about 4% of our body mass, minerals play a crucial role in essential functions such as maintaining electrical balance, controlling osmotic pressure, supporting metabolism through enzymes, and contributing to the structural integrity of bones and teeth. In the realm of skincare, minerals prove indispensable, contributing significantly to skin nourishment and protection against the damaging effects of excessive sun exposure, wrinkles, and helping maintain optimal moisture levels.1,2,3
Acting as essential building blocks, minerals are fundamental in maintaining the skin's integrity, promoting elasticity, and supporting its natural barrier function. Moreover, minerals serve as key players in enzymatic reactions that regulate skin regeneration, facilitating the repair of damaged skin. Recognizing the paramount importance of minerals in skincare unveils a more comprehensive approach to achieving healthy, radiant skin.1,2
Zinc is incredibly important for the skin due to its abundance in the human body and its vital functions. It is the second most abundant trace element, with 6-20% of its stores found in the skin, where it is needed for the highly proliferative nature of the tissue. The skin, being the third most zinc-rich tissue, relies on zinc for various catalytic, structural, and regulatory functions, including metabolism regulation and gene transcription. In skincare products, zinc proves to be valuable as it effectively cleanses excess sebum, restores the skin's natural pH level, and has anti-inflammatory and anti-acne effects, promoting healthy and clear skin. Understanding the significance of zinc for the skin underscores its value in maintaining overall skin health and vitality.1,2
- Dietary Sources: red meat, poultry, cheese, fish, nuts (e.g., pine nuts) and seeds (e.g., pumpkin seeds), and whole grains.
- Reference intake (RI) per day for adults: 10 [mg]
Selenium is essential for skin health as it serves as a crucial part of the antioxidant system, protecting cell membranes and tissues from oxidative stress caused by UV radiation. Its immunomodulation and tissue elasticity maintenance properties further contribute to skin health. Selenium's benefits include protecting against sun-induced oxidative stress, reducing the risk of skin damage, inhibiting wrinkles, and exhibiting anti-inflammatory effects. Incorporating selenium into skincare routines or diets can help preserve skin health, providing protection against UV radiation and promoting overall vitality.1,2
- Dietary Sources: seafood (e.g., saltwater fish), poultry, meats, broccoli, legumes, dairy products, mushrooms, garlic
- Reference intake (RI) per day for adults: 55 [µg]
Copper is a vital trace element for skin health, ranking third in abundance after iron and zinc. It plays essential roles in metalloenzymes, blood clotting, detoxification, and iron metabolism while also being involved in melanin production and supporting collagen, elastin, and hair maturation. Copper's antimicrobial properties further contribute to skin protection and regeneration, making it valuable in skincare for promoting firmness elasticity, and combating ageing effects. Incorporating copper into skincare products can enhance skin health and vitality.1,2
- Dietary Sources: liver, nuts, seafood (e.g., oysters), seeds, chocolate, cocoa
- Reference intake (RI) per day for adults: 900 [µg]
Silicon is crucial for skin health, involved in vital processes like bone growth, connective tissue formation, and cell metabolism. It promotes the growth of hair, skin, and nails while contributing to moisturization in the dermis and epidermis. Moreover, silicon enhances collagen and elastin production, improving skin surface and mechanical properties, as well as strengthening nails and hair. Including silicon in skincare routines can help maintain skin elasticity, thickness, and overall health, supporting healthy and resilient skin, hair, and nails.1,2
- Dietary Sources: grains, root vegetables (e.g., radish, carrots, potatoes, onion), beans, dried fruit, nuts
- Reference intake (RI) per day for adults: 10 [mg]
Iron is highly important for skin health as the most abundant trace element in the body, playing multiple crucial roles such as oxygen transportation, energy generation, and collagen production. Adequate iron intake is vital for maintaining healthy and vibrant skin, supporting proper cellular functioning and overall skin health.4,5
- Dietary Sources: red meat, beans, pulses, nuts, fish, quinoa
- Reference intake (RI) per day for adults: 14 [mg]
Topical applications of mineral-rich skincare products
Mineral-rich skincare products offer numerous benefits for the skin, promoting optimal health and addressing specific concerns. These products contain essential minerals that maintain skin balance, support biological functions, and protect against environmental damage. Zinc-based creams combat acne, selenium-infused lotions provide UV protection, copper peptide serums offer anti-ageing benefits, and silica-rich masks improve skin texture. Incorporating these products enhances skin health and appearance, ensuring comprehensive care for a glowing complexion.
Potential risks and precautions
When considering mineral supplements, it is essential to take precautions to ensure safe and effective use. Proper dosage, potential allergies, and interactions with medications or existing health conditions should be carefully considered. Consulting with healthcare professionals, especially dermatologists, is highly recommended, as they can assess individual needs and tailor a suitable treatment plan. Monitoring and adjustments under professional guidance can ensure safe and beneficial results. Additionally, being mindful of potential mineral interactions and seeking advice during pregnancy and lactation is crucial for a well-informed approach to mineral supplementation.6
Should I take mineral supplements?
For most healthy individuals, a balanced diet is sufficient to provide necessary minerals, making supplements unnecessary. Consult a doctor before considering mineral supplements to avoid health risks. Mineral-rich skincare products can supplement the skin with essential nutrients. Healthcare professional guidance is advised for targeted mineral supplementation to address specific skin concerns.
Are there specific minerals that target and treat common skin concerns like acne, ageing, or dryness?
Yes, certain minerals have been found to target and treat common skin concerns. For example, zinc is known for its anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, making it effective in treating acne-prone skin. Copper peptides have shown promising results in combating signs of ageing, promoting skin firmness and elasticity. Silicon can improve skin texture.
How do minerals interact with other skincare ingredients and affect overall product effectiveness?
Minerals in skincare products can interact with other ingredients to enhance their efficacy and overall product effectiveness. For example, minerals like zinc and copper can act as catalysts for various enzymatic reactions, improving the absorption and utilization of other beneficial compounds. Additionally, minerals may help stabilize certain active ingredients in cosmetic products, increasing their potency and ensuring they remain effective over time.
In conclusion, recognizing the significance of minerals in skincare and diet is paramount for achieving and maintaining healthy, radiant skin. Often overshadowed by vitamins, minerals play a crucial role not only in skin structure but also as vital regulators of essential biological processes. Embracing the benefits of minerals in our skincare routines enables a holistic approach to skin health, effectively safeguarding against sun damage, premature ageing, and ensuring optimal moisture levels for a hydrated and nourished complexion. A balanced diet and proper skincare routine, enriched with mineral support, can lead to the attainment of radiant and youthful skin, reflecting our inner vitality and beauty.
- Park K. Role of micronutrients in skin health and function. Biomolecules & Therapeutics [Internet]. 2015 May 31;23(3):207–17. Available from: https://doi.org/10.4062/biomolther.2015.003
- Michalak M, Pierzak M, Kręcisz B, Suliga E. Bioactive Compounds for skin Health: A review. Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 Jan 12;13(1):203. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu13010203
- Winkler P. Minerals and the skin. In: Springer eBooks [Internet]. 2011. p. 91–109. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4419-7967-4_7
- Vitamins and minerals - British Nutrition Foundation [Internet]. Available from: https://www.nutrition.org.uk/healthy-sustainable-diets/vitamins-and-minerals/?level=Consumer#supplement
- Nishito Y, Kambe T. Absorption mechanisms of iron, copper, and zinc: An overview. Journal of Nutritional Science and Vitaminology [Internet]. 2018 Jan 1;64(1):1–7. Available from: https://doi.org/10.3177/jnsv.64.1
- Zhang FF, Barr SI, McNulty H, Li D, Blumberg JB. Health effects of vitamin and mineral supplements. BMJ [Internet]. 2020 Jun 29;m2511. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m2511