What the heck does vitamin E do in skincare? Ok, it’s an antioxidant, but does it have any special superpowers? Yes, quite a few:
What The Heck Is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E isn’t just one ingredient. It’s a group of ingredients. The most common are:
Basically, if you see “tocopherol” or “tocotrienols” somewhere on the packaging, that’s vitamin E in disguise.
This fat-soluble group of vitamins is present in a lot of foods, too. My faves are avocado and nuts, but you can also find it in green and yellow vegetables, meat, corn and some diary products.
By the way, if you see the “d” prefix (such as d-alpha-tocopherol), it means it comes from a natural source. If you see the “dl” prefix (such as dl-alpha-tocopherol), it’s made in a lab.
They both work well, but the natural kind seems to do the job a little bit better.
Superpower #1: Vitamin E Has Antioxidant Properties
Let’s start with the obvious: vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. It constantly patrols your body, looking for free radicals. When it finds one, it quickly destroys it.
Problem is, the vitamin E your body naturally makes depletes with age and sun exposure. Yep, the more time you spend in the sun without sun protection, the sooner your body goes through its supply of vitamin E.
That’s why you want to add some back through your skincare – you’ll replenish the stock and kill even more free radicals. Take that, wrinkles!
Superpower #2: Vitamin E Has Photoprotective Properties
Vitamin E gives you some protection from the sun, too.
Before you get too excited, no, it’s NOT a substitute for your sunscreen. Vitamin E can help boost its protection, but it won’t replace it.
Studies show vitamin E reduces the severity of your sunburn and improves the effectiveness of the UV filters in your sunscreen. Isn’t it awesome?
While it’s capable of doing this alone, Vitamin E provides better photo protection when used with its BFFs, vitamin C and ferulic acid.
Superpower #3: Vitamin E Has Moisturising Properties
Vitamin E (especially the a-tocopherol acetate form) is a great moisturiser, too.
Here’s how it works: vitamin E strengthens the skin’s natural barrier, reducing water loss. Now that moisture’s locked into your skin, it softens and plumps it up.
Superpower #4: Vitamin E Is A Preservative
It’s not over. Vitamin E has one more trick up its sleeve. It helps your skincare products last longer.
Vitamin E isn’t your usual antioxidant. It doesn’t kill bacteria and germs that find their way into your precious lotions and potions.
Instead, it prevents the light from oxidising (i.e. making ineffective) the active ingredients in your products. Without its help, they wouldn’t last you as long.
Can Vitamin E Heal Scars, Too?
You’ve probably noticed I haven’t included scar healing as a superpower. Turns out, this is a job vitamin E CAN’T do.
Studies shows that vitamin E can’t help scars heal. If anything, it can make things worse. In 90% of cases, topical vitamin E either had no effect on, or actually worsened, the cosmetic appearance of scars.
What can I say? Nothing’s perfect.
Related: Why Vitamin E Won’t Heal Your Scars
Does Vitamin E Has Any Side Effects?
Vitamin E is pretty innocuous. But, it can cause allergies or irritations in some people. It’s rare, but it can happen.
What Are The Best Skincare Products With Vitamin E?
- Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($80.00): available at Cult Beauty, Sephora and SpaceNK
- Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Booster ($490.000): available at Dermstore and Skinstore
- Skinceuticals CE Ferulic ($165.00): available at Dermstore and Skinstore
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The Bottom Line
Vitamin E doesn’t often get the recognition it deserves, but it can do wonders for your skin. It prevents wrinkles, protects you from the sun, moisturises your skin and even helps your skincare products last longer. But it won’t heal your scars.
Do you use Vitamin E in your skincare routine? Share your faves in the comments below.