When discussing supplements, one of the most common questions to crop up is some version of: What does it do? quickly followed by How long does it take to work? The latter is especially prevalent with skin care supplements: Your skin is outward-facing, after all, so effects tend to be more visible and perhaps easier to pinpoint than other targeted results.* Still, it can be difficult to know what to expect—we inherently know that skin care is not immediate, but when can you start to see those purported benefits?
Well, we may have an answer—at least for one potent carotenoid. Apparently, supplementing with astaxanthin could reduce wrinkles in as little as six weeks.* Yep, you read that right.
Astaxanthin supplements, wrinkles, and age spots: What the research says.
A quick refresher on astaxanthin: A member of the carotenoid family, astaxanthin is a potent antioxidant that comes from microalgae—when fish (salmon, shrimp, crab, etc.) eat this algae, the astaxanthin is what gives them a peachy pigment. It’s a free-radical-fighting powerhouse that is clinically shown to improve skin hydration, increase elasticity, improve skin texture, and—here’s the kicker—reduce fine lines and age spots.*
Just take a look at this comprehensive review on astaxanthin for skin health: The data summary elucidates numerous astaxanthin clinical research studies for skin health outcomes.* For example, in one randomized controlled trial with 46 healthy female participants—researchers found that those who took astaxanthin capsules for six weeks had significantly decreased wrinkle parameters compared to participants who took a placebo pill.*
Another randomized controlled trial studied 65 healthy females and found that participants who took astaxanthin supplements had reduced wrinkles after 16 weeks, compared to the control group.* Finally, when 30 healthy females took astaxanthin capsules and applied a topical astaxanthin solution for eight weeks, their age spots decreased in size; not to mention, they reported an increase in skin elasticity and enhanced skin texture, too.*
Science jargon aside, we have a pretty good idea about the astaxanthin benefits timeline thanks to the collective research on this impressive phytonutrient. For reducing wrinkles, six to 16 weeks seems like the benchmark; for fading age spots, eight weeks sounds like the kicker.* Of course, we’re all unique individuals, so results and personalized timelines can vary for this or any botanical bioactive, but the totality of astaxanthin research is weighty.
What does this mean for us?
First things first: Continue to look for astaxanthin in creams and topicals—it’s a potent carotenoid that helps assist skin renewal from multiple angles, so it deserves a spot in your beauty cabinet. But considering all the data on how the phytochemical supports skin from the inside out, you might want to think about consuming astaxanthin, too, with smart supplements.*
mindbodygreen’s cellular beauty+, for example, contains natural astaxanthin extract at a potent dose of 6 milligrams to reflect the latest data on skin health (like the studies we mentioned above!) and to leverage its wrinkle-fighting power.* Specifically, we use the premium AstaReal®, a natural astaxanthin extract sustainably derived from green algae (Haematococcus pluvialis), aka H. pluvialis, which is a freshwater green algae that produces natural astaxanthin.
Plus, this skin care supplement contains other cutting-edge botanical bioactives to promote glowing skin: Along with astaxanthin, you’ll find phytoceramides to support a healthy skin barrier structure; ubiquinol CoQ10 to promote skin cell “cleanup” (aka, getting rid of debris) and rejuvenation; and polyphenol-containing pomegranate whole fruit extract to support balanced antioxidant responses to promote healthy skin aging.*
Everyone’s skin is different, and so not everybody reacts to ingredients in identical ways—this is true for all skin care, supplements, topicals, what have you. However, a deep dive into the research tells us that supplementing with astaxanthin can reveal its benefits in as little as six weeks.*
If you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or taking medications, consult with your doctor before starting a supplement routine. It is always optimal to consult with a health care provider when considering what supplements are right for you.