Vitamin E: The Underrated Ingredient That Treats Every Skin Concern
We’d say the chances of spotting the ingredient “tocopherol” or “tocopherol acetate” while browsing for skincare are pretty high. That’s because this ingredient (which sounds intimidating but is just the technical term for vitamin E) is one of the most versatile ones on the market. Praised especially for its antioxidant properties and skin-conditioning abilities, vitamin E is a key player in many cleansers, face masks, moisturizers, serums, eye care, lip oils…the list goes on and on.
Read the complete guide to vitamin E below. With the help of Dr. Cheryl Rosen, Director of Dermatology at BowTied Life., we explain when to apply it, how to layer it, and which skin types it benefits the most.
WHAT IS VITAMIN E?
Vitamin E is a fat-soluble antioxidant naturally found in foods like mango, sunflower seeds, avocado, almonds, and spinach. “It has many important functions in the body, including protecting cells from free radical damage, helping with blood clotting, and maintaining the integrity of cell membranes,” says Dr. Rosen. “There are eight different forms of vitamin E: four tocopherols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-) and four tocotrienols (alpha-, beta-, gamma-, delta-). The most active form of vitamin E in the body is alpha-tocopherol.”
As an antioxidant, its main purpose is to neutralize free radicals, which are unstable molecules produced by the body as a response to environmental triggers like UV rays. By neutralizing these free radicals, vitamin E prevents oxidative stress—which breaks down collagen and compromises the moisture barrier—defending against dark spots, acne, dryness, fine lines, and sagging skin. To add more antioxidants to your routine, including vitamin E, layer on our Antioxidant Oil-Serum before or after moisturizer.
THE BENEFITS OF VITAMIN E
The benefits of vitamin E are similar to any antioxidant: strengthens the moisture barrier, prevents damage, and amplifies your sunscreen’s protective abilities. That’s why we include a dose of vitamin E in our Daily Mineral Sunscreen, giving skin three-way protection against the sun, pollution, and blue light.
There’s more to this vitamin than its antioxidant properties, however. Vitamin E is naturally skin-conditioning, moisturizing dryness and smoothing out rough, uneven texture. It’s also very gentle, making this ingredient an optimal choice if you have sensitive skin or are prone to inflammatory conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. (And if so, we recommend the vitamin E found in our Milky Cleanser and Hydrating Milk Toner.) It’s pregnancy-safe, too.
According to Dr. Rosen, some standout benefits of vitamin E include “protection against sun damage, reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, improvement in skin texture, restoration of skin elasticity, and prevention of dryness and scaling.” Apply vitamin E if any of the following are on your list of skin goals:
- Strengthened moisture barrier
- Soft, even texture
- Fewer breakouts, post-acne marks, and dark spots
- Less redness, inflammation, and irritation
- Firm skin and less visible fine lines
HOW AND WHEN TO APPLY VITAMIN E
Because of vitamin E’s multifaceted benefits, Dr. Rosen says that every complexion can benefit from adding this ingredient to their routine—especially dry, sensitive, and aging skin. It can be applied morning and/or night without any risk of sensitivity or irritation. While vitamin E can be found in pretty much every skincare product, we especially recommend looking for it in your cleansers to counteract any stripping or dryness. The Day Dissolve Cleansing Balm is ideal for just that; the formula turns into a lightweight milk that leaves behind a silky, soft texture (yet no oily residue).
In general, vitamin E is a great addition to any products focused on dryness and aging skin, such as moisturizers, facial oils, serums, and treatments.
WHAT CAN I MIX VITAMIN E WITH?
Another reason to love vitamin E? It gets along with pretty much every other ingredient in your routine. We particularly recommend pairing it with active ingredients that can sometimes be harsh or drying, such as retinol. Vitamin E is one of the hero ingredients in The Shortcut Overnight Facial, which makes this leave-on exfoliator gentle enough for all skin types (that’s also why the formula feels so soothing and creamy).
Another ingredient pairing to look out for—especially if you are focused on aging skin or dullness—is vitamin C and E. When formulated together, their protective abilities double. Find this combo in our Brightening Eye Gel.
Shop vitamin E skincare below.