Here's What Happened To My Skin After I Took A Vegan Beauty Supplement For A Month

Courtesy bioClarity; Olivia Muenter

For me, the appeal of any type of beauty or health supplement is that they're easy. If they work, great. If they don't work, sometimes you still think they worked anyway. And even if you don't see results or experience a placebo effect, there is something about taking a minute to do something you believe is improving your health every day that I find very empowering. Maybe getting to the gym seems impossible or sleeping eight hours is a long shot, but taking a pill every morning or adding some powder to your daily coffee? That's simple enough. When I set out to test bioClarity's Beauty Boost supplement, I was excited to create those little daily moments of self care.

bioClarity is a plant-based skin care brand that makes everything from cleanser and moisturizer to, you guessed it, supplements. Every bioClarity product is cruelty-free and vegan, which is the primary way it sets itself apart from many other brands.

bioClarity makes one supplement, called Beauty Boost, that the brand claims will "kick-start your skin’s radiance" and help "abolish aggravators, calm, and nourish skin." Similar general skin care supplements often include ingredients like collagen, hyaluronic acid, fish oil, and Vitamin A — all of which can have animal-derived elements. Many of the brand's products include the brand-trademarked Plant Perfectors, Harmonizing Adaptogens, and Floralux — combinations of plant ingredients it claims are designed to boost skin clarity, enhance brightness, and even tone. While not every bioClarity product includes each trademarked blend, the Beauty Boost supplement that I took for this 30 Day Trial includes all three in one twice-a-day dose.

The Claim

According to the bioClarity website, Beauty Boost uses a variety of vitamins (A, B6, C, D, E, and K to be exact) to "feed your glow" — or, in other words, supposedly supports the formation of Vitamin A, hyaluronic acid, elastin, and collagen in your skin. The supplement also uses all of the above in combination with ingredients like matcha, goji berry, grape seed, turmeric, and golden-serpent fern to "calm and protect" skin. One bottle of Beauty Boost goes for $32.95 and includes 30 days worth of tablets. You're supposed to take two of them twice a day — once in the morning, and once at night.

Figuring out whether or not to take a supplement can be a confusing process, especially with so many different types on the market these days. In an effort to learn more about beauty supplements in general, I consulted with New York City-based dermatologist Dr. Hadley King.

King tells me over email that the data for whether or not the majority of beauty supplements work (most claim to do some variation of "improving" your skin, everything from making skin more glowy to reducing acne or wrinkles) is "sketchy at best," noting that single-vitamin supplements (Vitamin A, C, E, and fish oil were some of the examples he listed) have not performed well in studies that tested any difference made to the appearance of the skin. King explains that beauty supplements that contain a variety of vitamins also have very little data to support their efficacy.

"Beauty supplements are basically rebranded vitamins," Dr. King writes. "If you look at the list of ingredients for these products, they generally include high doses of the usual suspects — vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, and calcium. It is true that vitamins and minerals are important for skin health, but most people get the nutrients they need from the foods they eat."

Hadley did go on on to tell me that, especially as we age, it is possible that some of us aren't getting the vitamins that we need, though.

"None of us eats a perfectly healthy and well-rounded diet every day, and even as we do, we may not absorb all the nutrients," King wrote, emphasizing the fact that learning your true vitamin levels from your doctor is key in figuring out if vitamins will provide any benefit for you.

The Experiment

Courtesy Olivia Muenter

I had been dealing with some skin issues (hormonal breakouts, dry spots, redness), so I started taking bioClarity twice a day to see if the product would help remedy any of this. I should note, though, that I started the regimen before speaking to Dr. King, who said that it was best to discuss supplements and any vitamin deficiencies with your doctor before taking any supplement.

While I had recently had my vitamin levels tested (low on Vitamin D, which Beauty Boost includes), I went into taking this supplement with a goal of hopefully improving my very average skin and not fixing a serious problem or vitamin deficiency.

I began by taking the supplement as recommended by the brand: twice a day, morning and night. However, remembering to take a pill twice a day (with food) kept slipping my mind, so I started taking two pills, at the same time each day instead. This was much more manageable for me, and it was easy for me to remember to take the tablets along with my daily, doctor-recommended B12 supplement. However, after speaking to bioClarity reps after the experiment ended, it became very clear to me that I should have consulted them on this choice earlier.

The split dosing is suggested to "enhance absorbability," representatives of the brand told me, and explained that, though uncommon, taking a higher dosage once a day (as opposed to the split dosage) could result in upset stomach, nausea, and bloating for people with sensitive digestive systems.

I personally didn't experience any of these side effects, but let this serve as a good reminder for anyone taking supplements to always follow the directions on the label and to consult your doctor before making changes to your routine.

Courtesy Olivia Muenter

When I first started taking the Beauty Boost supplement, I was on my period, and my skin was like it usually is during my period — aggravated, red, and blemish-prone. Within a week or so of the regimen, I noticed my skin improve. I did notice a more prominent glow (photo above), and more than that, I felt good about doing something that would supposedly be helpful for my skin. Having a brief moment of the day where you're taking care of your body in a very, very small way is strangely powerful. I felt in control and proactive.

The Verdict

Courtesy Olivia Muenter
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When I got toward the end of the experiment, my skin was behaving the same way it had at the beginning, complete with breakouts. However, redness was significantly reduced (see the before-and-after photos above). It's also only fair to mention that I did skip a handful of days here and there throughout the 30 days because, you know, life. The brand tells me that it's not possible to predict the amount of time it would take for the supplement to achieve "optimal effects," though, and noted that while some people respond best to the daily, four-week regimen, others respond better to two or three months of "regular dosing." In any case, I did finish the entire bottle of tablets over the course of about five weeks, and this is what felt most realistic to me in terms of dosage.

All in all, for me, this supplement wasn't a solution to my hormonal acne (nor is it marketed as such, to be clear), but it did add a noticeable glow and vibrance to my skin. Whether that glow was a tiny bit of placebo effect or a result of feeling good about doing something in an effort to take care of myself, it's tough to say. But the supplement certainly didn't make my skin worse.

While brighter-than-usual skin was a nice side effect of taking Beauty Boost (well, maybe), the most important thing I learned in this experiment was insight from King. Like so many things in the beauty industry, no supplement is going to change your life, despite what marketing would have you believe. Even though there are a couple data-backed supplements that do what they claim (Dr. King mentioned hair growth supplements Nutrafol and Viviscal, for example), there is no clinical research that says vitamins or beauty supplements will benefit you if you're not already deficient in vitamins. However, this doesn't stop thousands of people from reviewing supplements like bioClarity and saying that the supplement did work for them.

And, in fact, Dr. King told me that it can be dangerous to have high levels of some fat-soluble vitamins like A, D, E, K in your system. All this is to say, a beauty supplement might be great for you, or it might not, and you should definitely be talking with your doctor throughout the process. For me, the jury's still out on whether or not I'll continue to take bioClarity's Beauty Boost, but I do know that I'll be consulting the professionals before I take any supplement at all in the future.