Vitamin IVs Are a Rising Beauty Trend — Here's Why

Sometimes, beauty and wellness work better together.

CLEAN SLATE: Vitamin IVs Are a Rising Beauty Trend — Here's Why
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The beauty and wellness industries are thriving individually — but are they better together?

In the midst of a health and wellness boom (the industry is anticipated to grow by over $1,661 billion in the next five years), there is a fascinating beauty niche called integrative aesthetics that blends the two fields. As experts increasingly turn to functional and integrative medicine for anti-aging and beauty outcomes, therapies like vitamin IVs for beauty are trending. 

"A decade ago, nutrient IVs were really only popular among celebrities and individuals who were truly suffering from severe illness. Fast forward to today, and everyone's best friend, colleague, and uncle has now implemented nutrient IVs into their wellness routine," says Katherine Chang ND, Director of Naturopathic Medicine at Remedy Place. "In the past few years, we have noticed this dramatic rise in demand stemming from the corporate space." Noting that executives loved the efficiency of the drips and their ability to multi-task while receiving them, they are now much more accessible, offered by concierge doctors, medspas like Dripology, and even by celebrity esthetician Celeste Rodrigues in partnership with Drip IV.

The reason why they're trending now comes down to an increasingly holistic notion of wellness and an interest in preventative self-care. "The interconnectedness of beauty and inner health cannot be denied. Everything that appears on the outside of the body has its roots, at least partially, internally," says Shirley Madhere MD, holistic plastic surgeon and founder of JetSet Beauty Rx. Skincare enthusiasts are adept at treating the outward signs of aging and achieving glowing skin, but now vitamin IVs are being customized to address the inner causes of aging, as well. In fact, Dr. Madhere insists that good nutrition is her "number one rule of beauty."

"Outward beauty really is a reflection of the inner state," explains naturopathic doctor Nadia Musavvir of Integrative Aesthetics and Performance. "When there is inflammation, hormonal and/or microbial imbalances, and nutrition gaps, they tend to show up on the skin and hair. While there are incredible skincare and haircare options, [topicals] only go so far until the inner state is addressed and corrected."

Our experts believe that vitamin IV's can absolutely help to address this. Keep reading to learn more about the latest trend in beauty, below.

Why try a beauty vitamin IV in the first place?

Integrative aesthetics expert Rahi Sarbaziha MD explains that aging is determined by both inner factors like genetics and physiology, and outer factors, which range from the environment, to stress, to your lifestyle choices (like diet, exercise, and skincare). "To address both, I think a combination of IV therapy and topical skincare products yields optimal skin and aging results," she says. "These IVs are effective internally, where most of the aging process occurs, making it important to both nourish and detox your body from the inside, too."

Kelly McCann MD, founder of The Spring Center, has been offering vitamin IVs to her patients for the last eight years, praising their efficiency in both bioavailability and delivery.

"I love offering them to patients because [the blood delivers nutrients] exactly where the patient needs them, like the central nervous system or the vascular lining," Dr. McCann says. She notes that intravenous delivery ensures full absorption into the blood, bypassing gut absorption altogether (which can be further stymied by issues like gut membrane permeability). IV delivery also allows patients to tolerate higher doses of vitamins like vitamin C and zinc without dealing with the unwanted side-effects like stomach cramping and diarrhea. And it is ideal for certain nutrients that simply do not absorb well through the gut lining in the first place, like the antioxidant glutathione

What is in these vitamin IVs, anyway?

Double board-certified plastic surgeon Ben Talei, founder of the Beverly Hills Center for Plastic Surgery, is a fan of adding glutathione to vitamin IVs to aid with patient recovery following aesthetic procedures like plastic surgery. "Based on the research, my favorite blends for vitamin IVs include high doses of vitamin C, copper, zinc, and aminos, which are key for collagen," he says. "Especially when fibroblasts are already active, all of those micronutrients can help recovery. That's where the data is strongest."

What is in each IV depends on where you go. Patients of Dr. Musavvir, for instance, undergo testing to detect underlying nutrient deficiencies or imbalances before she creates their custom IV regimen. "Your custom IV regimen can be created with basic blood labs when read in a detailed way, or by running a micronutrient panel," she explains. Pre-made mixes exist, as well, with a popular Anti-Aging IV at Remedy Place, a Beauty IV at Dripology, and Celeste Rodrigues' customized Glow blend offered by Drip IV, with ingredients like vitamin C, magnesium, zinc, and more. 

Among the most popular ingredients are:

Vitamin C. "The form used in IVs is metabolically active, it's an antioxidant, forms collagen, and helps with wound healing," Dr. Musavvir says. Dr. Madhere notes that it helps to brighten the skin and mitigate free radical damage to cells caused by oxidative stress.

Glutathione. "Glutathione is the most important antioxidant in the body," says Dr. McCann. The so-called master antioxidant helps to protect cells from two causes of aging (i.e. free radical wrought oxidative stress and inflammation), and Dr. Madhere adds that it can even inhibit melanin production and reduce hyperpigmentation.

Nicotinamide Adenine Dinucleotide (NAD). Dr. Chang notes that NAD is a powerful coenzyme that supports DNA repair — and is the most popular anti-aging drip at Remedy Place. "It fuels over 500 chemical pathways including cellular energy pathways and mitochondria, the energy powerhouses of the cell," Dr. Musavvir says. Be forewarned, however, that NAD drips can take hours.

Magnesium. "Magnesium is critically important for overall health with over 300 different uses in the body," Dr. McCann explains. "It can help balance the GI tract, stabilize cellular functioning, has anti-inflammatory activity, and it reduces acne."

Saline. "Adequate hydration is the second rule of beauty," adds Dr. Madhere. "IV fluid is both a diluent for the active micronutrients but it also helps hydrate the body."

Zinc. "I love using minerals like zinc and selenium if available," says Dr. McCann. "The skin is the third most zinc-abundant tissue in the body and it is incredibly important for skin health." Dr. Madhere adds that it can also help heal damaged tissues and reduce inflammation.

Phosphitidylcholine (PC). "PC is the building block of every cell in the body, so taking it can heal your cell membranes and help with detoxification," says Dr. McCann. She notes that this lesser-known but powerful supplement is a powerful way to "mobilize environmental toxicants" and detox them from the body.

Niacinamide. This is a B vitamin that is often delivered separately from a complex, and is quite popular in topical skincare. "It has a beneficial effect on aging by reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and improving skin elasticity," says Dr. Madhere.

B Vitamins. While not recommended for those with acne, benefits associated with the eight B-vitamins range from hormone production, to DNA repair, and promoting healthy hair, skin, and nails.

Risks of Beauty Vitamin IVs

"One woman's beauty treatment may be another person's beauty disaster," warns Dr. Madhere, who notes that not one singular treatment or IV blend will be a panacea for all. There are also some contraindications associated with vitamin IVs when it comes to specific ingredients. "It's important to look at liver function and kidney function first and foremost," says Dr. Musavvir, who also checks methylation pathways and notes that those with the G6PD deficiency should not receive high doses of vitamin C.

Rodrigues had her custom IV formulated without B-complex after noticing some of her clients experiencing cystic acne flairs. "Those who are prone to acne may want to avoid vitamin B12 since the activated micronutrient, methylcobalamin, can result in increased skin inflammation," says Dr. Madhere.

So, is a beauty vitamin IV right for you?

If you are a skeptic that does not even believe in taking vitamins orally, vitamin IVs will obviously not be for you. But the beauty to be found within an IV bag of vitamins should not be underestimated — nor should the significance of inner wellness with aging, skin quality, and hair thickness, be underestimated. "The modern western diet is often lacking in nutrients that are necessary for aging well holistically," says Dr. Madhere. "Therefore, I am a proponent of supplementing the diet with vitamins and minerals, as appropriate."

But if you do want to try, some patients feel a difference immediately with more noticeable results occurring with a series of IVs spaced a few weeks apart. "Frequency and IV contents all depend on our client's baseline and desired outcomes," says Jillian Alvarez, BSN RN at Dripology. "Clearing stress acne, for example, could take two treatments, but getting over a hangover is as easy as a single 35-minute treatment."

It is also exciting to see functional and integrative medicine open up new frontiers in the beauty world. "One of the goals of functional and integrative medicine is to [remove] the body's obstacles to healing," says Dr. McCann. "When the body gets adequate nutrients and is detoxing efficiently, and all the systems of the body are working synergistically, the beautiful radiance of health can shine through someone's face, hair, and entire being."

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space. Find out what's really in your products — and what's being left out.

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