When it comes to vitamins for skincare, you might be very familiar with vitamin C and vitamin A. You might be using a vitamin C serum for its brightening, collagen-boosting, and skin tone-evening benefits. And retinoids could be a part of your anti-acne and anti-wrinkle routine. But have you familiarized yourself with vitamin E yet? It’s another healthy skin ingredient that can make a big difference.
“Vitamin E is a nutrient that happens to be one of the four fat-soluble vitamins, which means that it is stored in the body’s fatty tissue,” explains dermatological nurse and celebrity aesthetician Natalie Aguilar. “Its biggest role is to act as an antioxidant. Fat-soluble vitamins play integral roles in many physiological processes such as vision, bone health, immune function and blood coagulation. Vitamin E can be naturally derived or synthetically made in a lab. When sourced naturally, vitamin E is extracted from plant-based oils, seeds, nuts, avocado, and whole grains.”
And when it comes to skincare, the nutrient (which is also known as alpha-tocopherol) is known for its hydrating and protecting properties, adds Alexis Parcells, MD, a board-certified plastic surgeon and founder of Sunnie Skincare. She highlighted some of the benefits below.
Barrier Protection: “Vitamin E keeps lipids (healthy oils and fats) in your skin and allows your natural barrier to remain intact,” Parcells says. “This aids in hydration and prevents skin from feeling dry.”
Heals Skin: “Vitamin E has been shown to help accelerate damaged skin from sunburns and other injuries up to 50% faster,” she explains.
Antioxidant Powers: “Vitamin E has been known to neutralize free radicals and reverse skin damage. When combined with vitamin C, it can provide additional sun protection and reverse aging,” she says.
Aguilar says that vitamin E can be consumed by eating foods rich in it or taking supplements. But if you want to reap some of those skincare benefits, you can also apply it topically. “The benefits of vitamin E vary based on how it is used,” explains Ife Rodney, MD, FAAD, of Eternal Dermatology and Aesthetics. “You’ll find that ingesting oral supplements will help to heal skin conditions—dermatitis—whereas topical application of vitamin E will help to fade scars and soothe inflamed skin.”
Ultimately, it’s up to personal preference and your own specific needs. It’s best to check with a healthcare professional before you try any new supplements, and you might want to discuss with your dermatologist about using any vitamin E skincare products in your routine.
If you do want to try the topical route, Aguilar says almost everyone can benefit from using vitamin E topically. “Vitamin E works well to assist with wound healing and scar maturation,” Parcells says. “It’s also helpful as an antioxidant and can be used alongside vitamin C to assist in repairing skin damage. It’s a great moisturizer and can be therapeutic in improving skin tone and elasticity.”
Specific skin types that might benefit the most from vitamin E are those with chronically dry and inflamed skin, atopic dermatitis, and eczema, Rodney says. But check with your dermatologist first before using it to treat any chronic conditions.
And while the ingredient can be helpful all-around, some people might experience some irritation, like superficial dermatitis. “If you have oily skin, vitamin E may not be the best solution for you,” Rodney adds. “It can potentially clog pores and increase the likelihood of breakouts. If you have sensitive skin, it’s best to perform a patch test first.”
Check out some vitamin E skincare products below.