4 Reasons Why You Need Vitamin E In Your Skincare Routine (And 1 Reason You Don’t)

by Gio
4 skincare benefits of vitamin E

Vitamin A is for antiaging.

Vitamin C is for brightening.

Vitamin K is for dark circles.

Vitamin E…

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:


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What The Heck Is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E isn’t just one ingredient. It’s a group of ingredients. The most common are:

  • alpha-topcoherol
  • alpha-tocotrienols
  • beta-tocopherol
  • beta-tocotrienols
  • gamma-tocopherol
  • gamma-tocotrienols

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.

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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!

Related: 5 Things You Need To Know About Antioxidants In Skincare

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.

Related: Spotlight On Ferulic Acid: What Is It And How Does It Help Vitamin E In Skincare?

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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.

Related: Alternatives To Parabens: Which Ones Are Safe And Effective?

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

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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?

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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.

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12 comments

jojoba (My Makeup Reviews) March 30, 2011 - 3:21 pm

seriously i reallylove vitamin e products. i am surprised to read the study showed the opposite of scar healing. i am not sure now if applying the vitamin e oil has got to do with my very little saceream scar…

a very interesting report on ingreidnets as always.

Reply
beautifulwithbrains March 30, 2011 - 4:26 pm

Jojoba, I love Vitamin E products too. It’s a wonderful ingredients with lots of benefits. But I wouldn’t really use it on scars though as it sadly doesn’t do anything for them.

Reply
LaDamaBianca March 30, 2011 - 6:14 pm

La vitamina E è l’antiossidante naturale più usato anche nella conservazione dei prodotti ecobiologici. Non l’ho mai usata pura.

Reply
beautifulwithbrains March 30, 2011 - 8:09 pm

LaDamaBianca, si come conservante è molto usato e previene l’ossidazione del prodotto. Io preferisco usare la vitamina e nelle creme e sieri, però anche da sola funziona molto bene.

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Makeup Morsels March 31, 2011 - 12:33 am

Hey Gio! I love it when you do informative posts like this. I always knew about Vitamin E’s moisturizing/scar healing properties, but I never knew it could be used w/ sunscreen as a photoprotective substance! yayy thank you for teaching me something new today xD

Reply
beautifulwithbrains March 31, 2011 - 8:29 am

Makeup Morsels, thank you. I’m glad you find these posts useful and informative. 🙂

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Isabel March 31, 2011 - 11:06 am

I love my vitamin e serum but I’m shocked to see that it doesn’t help with scars as my serum works beautifully. Pimple scars that would normally take weeks to go away can be gotten rid of in a few days with nightly applications. Skin also appears to be more radiant in the morning

Reply
beautifulwithbrains March 31, 2011 - 7:05 pm

Isabel, is your serum pure Vitamin e or does it contain other ingredients? Cos it could be something else in the formula that makes it work for pimple scars. In any case, Iìm glad the serum works well for you. 🙂

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Diane January 10, 2013 - 5:33 pm

Vitamin E irritated my surgical scar, so it wasn’t healing. My doc told me to stop using it. It healed much faster after that, and beautifully. I’ve had trouble finding skincare products that don’t fill my pores and cause irritation. I realized everything had E in it, so I stopped using everything but Ivory soap. My skin is getting better now. I also have an intolerance to coconut, so maybe using it on my skin is just as bad for me as eating it. Most products contain that too.

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beautifulwithbrains January 10, 2013 - 8:08 pm

Diane, I don’t really know why Vitamin E acquired a reputation for healing scars when very often it has the opposite effect. I’m sorry you can’t use neither that nor coconut. There are so many products that use them and trying to find some that don’t must be very frustrating.

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Em Lo August 10, 2015 - 9:03 pm

I would very much like to know how to compare the vitamin E content in a creams from % to IU, ie what is the conversion factor between IU and % w/w (g/100g or the like) vitamin E in a cream? How much vitamin E is considered an effective amount to be added to a face cream?

Reply
Gio August 11, 2015 - 8:37 pm

Em, all I know is that Vitamin E must be present in at least 1% concentrations, and used with ingredients that help stabilize it. Hope this helps.

Reply

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