Vitamin E is undoubtedly one of the most widely used skin-care ingredients. It occurs naturally in our bodies as well as in certain foods. And if you look closely, you’ll probably find it in a lot of the skin-care products you already have — serums, moisturizers, eye creams, and everything in between. You may have tried taking vitamin E supplements as well.
But what exactly is vitamin E, and what benefits does it have for your skin? This article discusses vitamin E, including who should (and shouldn’t) use it and how to incorporate it into your skin-care routine.
So, what exactly is Vitamin E?
Yes, it is a vitamin, but to be more specific, the term vitamin E refers to a group of compounds. Vitamin E is the name for a family of oil-soluble antioxidants. There are approximately eight forms of vitamin E, with tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol being the most commonly found in skin-care products.
In other words, while vitamin E naturally occurs in eight chemical forms, when you see “vitamin E” on skin-care or supplement packaging, it’s almost always tocopherol. According to the National Institutes of Health, this is the only form of vitamin E recognized to meet human requirements (NIH). So, if the term “tocopherol” appears on the ingredient list of your favorite serum or moisturizer, it’s vitamin E.
How does Vitamin E help with skin conditions?
Topically, it can be beneficial for various skin disorders and repair. It helps in cellular restoration in a variety of ways, from sun damage to multiple ports for scars or burns. But what effect does vitamin E have on the skin? How exactly does it work?
Let’s recap why antioxidants are so important for our health, both topically and internally. Vitamin E, as previously stated, is an antioxidant. They protect cells from oxidative damage by assisting in removing free radicals.
Free radicals are on a dangerous quest to become stable, so they are ready and willing to snatch an electron from anything in their path, including DNA, skin proteins, connective tissues, and cell membranes. The more you can quench the free radicals’ thirst for stability, the better it will protect your skin. Here vitamin E comes in.
Vitamin E protects the skin from free radicals caused by daily environmental stressors such as unprotected sun exposure and air pollution. Vitamin E protects the skin from damage by fighting free radicals
Moreover, vitamin E has moisturizing and healing properties and helps to strengthen the skin barrier. Because vitamin E is a natural anti-inflammatory, it can be soothing and help calm the skin. It is also suitable for hydrating skin and a moderately effective natural sun barrier.
A beginner-guide to the usage of Vitamin E
Vitamin E is generally not recommended for super sensitive, oily, or acne-prone skin. Although it is scarce, topical vitamin E can act as an allergen for some people, causing irritation, itching, or even rashes when it comes into contact with the skin. Scientists are still unsure what causes some people to become allergic to it, but less than 1% of people are typically sensitive to the ingredient.
Vitamin E can have significant skin benefits for most people. It is also a naturally occurring substance in the body and has relieved eczema in some people. Because vitamin E is oil soluble (it can be delivered through or as an oil), incorporating it into your skin-care routine via oils and moisturizers is one of the best ways to use the ingredient.
When vitamin E is combined with vitamin C, it becomes even more effective as a partner, which is why many serums contain both. If you’re new to using vitamin E or have sensitive skin, start with a moisturizer (since serums are technically more potent concentrations).
Vitamin E is an essential component of the skin’s antioxidant defenses, primarily protecting the skin from UV radiation and other free radicals. Oral vitamin E supplements alone may not provide sufficient skin protection, and co-supplementation of vitamin E and vitamin C may be necessary to increase skin immunity through diet effectively.
However, topical vitamin E can be effective on the skin. Additional anti-inflammatory effects of topical vitamin E have been observed in the skin. However, more research is needed to determine whether vitamin E functions primarily as a free-radical scavenger or can have other effects on inflammatory signaling.
The vitamin E family consists of eight different tocopherols and tocotrienols. Future research will need to determine whether one or more of these molecules can have distinct effects on skin function.
Are you convinced yet? Vitamin E is the ultimate skincare ingredient—it moisturizes, protects you from the enemy (free radicals), and has anti-aging properties. What more could you want?