Skincare Ingredients 101: Vitamin E
Is Vitamin E good for the skin? You’ve seen it on ingredients lists from everything from lip balm to face cream — and with good reason. It’s a powerful antioxidant that may effectively reduce damage from harmful UV rays while protecting from other destructive free radicals and environmental stressors such as air pollution, pesticides, cigarette smoke, alcohol, and poor nutrition. But that’s just the beginning. Let’s take a closer look at why vitamin E can often be found at the top of the ingredient list. .
What is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant that is vital for the preservation of healthy skin. Naturally occurring vitamin E is not singular. Rather, it’s a group of compounds with complementary structures, some of which have one-of-a-kind properties in the skin. Vitamin E is typically supplied to the skin through the sebum (oil), and it’s the most plentiful lipophilic (tendency to combine with or dissolve in lipids or fats) antioxidant found in human skin. Typically, vitamin E levels are higher in the epidermis (top layer of skin) than the dermis, which lies beneath the epidermis and above the subcutaneous layer. The dermis is the thickest layer of skin and provides strength and elasticity to the skin.
There are around eight different forms of vitamin E, but to prevent you from becoming overwhelmed, let’s narrow them down. Tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol are the two types most commonly found in skincare products. So, when you see vitamin E listed on your skincare product ingredient lists, it’s typically tocopherol. According to the National Institutes of Health, tocopherol is the only form of vitamin E for skin sanctioned to meet human requirements.
On the other hand, Tocopheryl acetate is a synthetic form of vitamin E and it’s not as potent and effective as tocopherol, the natural derivative. Furthermore, natural vitamin E goes through rigorous testing and processing steps to remove any potential pesticides, whereas synthetic E does not.
What does Vitamin E Do For Your Skin?
When applied topically, vitamin E can be highly beneficial for repairing the skin (think sun damage, scars, and burns) and treating several different skin disorders. As previously mentioned, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant, so it helps prevent oxidative damage to cells by warding off skin-damaging free radicals. Additionally, vitamin E has incredible moisturizing, healing, and anti-inflammatory properties, so it’s the ultimate skin soother.
Vitamin E Benefits For Skin
- The main benefit of vitamin E is its ability to expedite the healing of burns, scars, and wounds by as much as 50%
- This super vitamin keeps the skin moist and hydrated for up to 16 hours. It provides moisture retention between your skin cells substantially longer than products not formulated with it.
- Vitamin E helps keep your skin’s protective barrier intact. It’s perfect for skin that tends to feel tight, dry, and cracked. As it's also a naturally occurring substance in the body, vitamin E has also been shown to relieve eczema.
- As vitamin E can increase the skin’s moisture content while protecting from free radicals, it has anti-aging capabilities.
- Vitamin E is a fat-soluble ingredient, meaning it can inhibit oil oxidation, preventing blackheads. The oxidation process is what puts the black in blackhead.
- You’ll see vitamin E in copious face and body formulas because it makes the skin feel silky smooth while calming any irritation.
- While it’s not a replacement for sunscreen, vitamin E has photo-protective properties. These effects are bolstered when paired with vitamin C and SPF. In fact, this combination can provide around four times more protection than sunscreen alone.
When To Use Vitamin E In Skincare
Vitamin E skincare encompasses pretty much the entire spectrum of products on the market. However, because it’s oil-soluble, using moisturizers and oils in your skincare routine are some of the best ways to reap its benefits. Most over-the-counter anti-aging creams contain between .05 and 1 percent. Oftentimes you’ll see E paired with C or ferulic acid because they increase one another’s efficacy. While vitamin E is suitable (and highly beneficial) for most skin types, it’s typically not advised for those with ultra-sensitive or extraordinarily oily or acne-prone skin because it can aggravate these conditions.
Vitamin E: The Bottom Line
When it comes to anti-aging ingredients, chemical exfoliants, peptides, hyaluronic acid, and retinol are often encouraged. However, don’t diminish the power of natural vitamin E. Along with being a powerful antioxidant, vitamin E is an incredible protector, healer, and skin soother. It keeps the skin’s moisture barrier intact and can help prevent the oxidation process that causes blackheads. More than likely, you won’t have to choose one over the other as vitamin E is often found in skincare formulas with several of the other anti-aging power players that promote a healthy and glowing complexion.