Vitamin E For Skin Health: What You Need To Know


Medically Reviewed by Dr. Lee Hwee Chyen

MBBS MRCP (UK) FAMS (Dermatology)

Vitamin E For Skin Health: What You Need To Know

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a naturally occurring component that contributes to healthy skin. It is a strong antioxidant, playing a key role in protecting your skin from harm caused by free radicals and external environmental factors. Here is what you need to know about vitamin E to maintain skin health.

Benefits of Vitamin E in Skin Care

Vitamin E’s antioxidant and hydrating properties can protect the skin from various environmental stressors, such as pollution and UV radiation, and enhance the performance of other skincare ingredients.

Antioxidant Protection

As a potent antioxidant, vitamin E helps to protect the skin from oxidative stress caused by environmental factors like UV radiation and pollution. This prevents cellular damage and maintains the integrity of skin cells, preventing premature ageing signs like wrinkles and fine lines. Vitamin E also neutralises free radicals, which are unstable molecules that can damage the skin.

Hydration of the Skin

Vitamin E supports the skin’s natural barrier function, aiding in moisture absorption and retention to prevent dryness. This maintains the skin’s balance by improving skin hydration, which can help reduce the risk of conditions such as eczema, where the skin barrier may be compromised.

Anti-Ageing Effects

Vitamin E supports the production of collagen, a key protein in maintaining skin’s firmness and structure. This minimises the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, contributing to smoother and firmer skin and reducing the visible signs of ageing.

Improved Skin Tone

Vitamin E can reduce hyperpigmentation and dark spots by preventing oxidative stress that can lead to skin discolouration. When used with vitamin C, it enhances the appearance of an even skin tone, reducing the visibility of dark spots and contributing to a brighter skin appearance.

Skin Soothing Properties

Vitamin E soothes the skin by modulating the body’s inflammatory response. When applied topically, vitamin E can help soothe redness, reduce swelling, and relieve discomfort associated with various skin irritations.

Enhances Other Ingredients

Vitamin E works synergistically with other skincare ingredients, such as vitamin C. It stabilises vitamin C, extending its shelf life and efficacy. When used together, they improve the skin’s texture, tone, and overall resilience against external factors such as UV radiation.

Strengthens the Skin Barrier

Vitamin E strengthens the skin barrier by maintaining the skin’s moisture balance and enhancing its ability to retain hydration. It protects against environmental aggressors that can lead to dryness and irritation. This keeps the skin hydrated and ensures that the skin’s defensive mechanisms against pollutants and toxins are intact. The skin appears healthier, more supple and is better equipped to resist the signs of ageing.

Sources of Vitamin E

Vitamin E can be found in various sources, from dietary choices to skincare products. Good sources of vitamin E can be found in health food stores, organic markets, and online platforms specialising in natural and organic products.

Choose skincare products that are labelled free from harmful chemicals, paraben-free and without artificial fragrances or colours to ensure that vitamin E is in its most natural form.

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts like almonds and seeds such as sunflower seeds are a primary source of vitamin E. They also provide beneficial fats and proteins that promote overall skin health. Natural vitamin E extracted from nuts and seeds is easily absorbed and utilised by the skin.

Vegetable Oils

Oils such as wheat germ, sunflower, and olive oil are potent sources of vitamin E. These oils are commonly used in cooking and are ingredients in many cosmetic formulations. Rosehip oil, extracted from the seeds of rose plants, has anti-ageing and scar-fading properties due to its high vitamin E content.

Vitamin E, in its natural form, is more beneficial for skin care than its synthetic counterpart. Natural vitamin E is more effectively absorbed and retained in the skin cells for a longer time. Choose products that contain natural sources of vitamin E, such as extra virgin olive oil, rather than those fortified with synthetic vitamin E, which are less effective.

Green Leafy Vegetables and Fruits

Vegetables like spinach and kale, although not as concentrated in vitamin E as nuts and oils, still contribute to the daily intake of this essential nutrient. These leafy greens are also packed with other vitamins and minerals that maintain healthy skin. Certain fruits, such as avocados and mangoes, contain vitamin E, offering a natural source of this nutrient and a range of other vitamins, fibres, and antioxidants.

Skincare Products

Due to its nourishing properties, vitamin E is a common ingredient in skincare products. It is commonly used in moisturisers, serums, and creams because it supports the skin barrier and improves skin hydration. It also reduces oxidative stress on the skin, preventing premature ageing and promoting healthy, radiant skin.


Vitamin E supplements ensure adequate nutrient intake for those who may not get enough from their diet due to certain health conditions or dietary restrictions. These supplements are widely available in various forms, including capsules and oils.

Consult a specialist before starting any vitamin E supplement regimen, as excessive intake can have adverse effects.

Choosing The Right Type of Vitamin E Skincare Products

Vitamin E exists in various forms in skincare products, which can be broadly categorised into natural and synthetic types, each with different benefits. Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right vitamin E skincare products for your skin.

  • Natural Vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol): Naturally derived from plant oils, this form of vitamin E is more effective due to its higher antioxidant activity and increased ability to be absorbed by the skin. It is commonly found in products targeting skin repair and anti-ageing.
  • Synthetic Vitamin E (dl-alpha-tocopherol): Less expensive and with a longer shelf life, synthetic vitamin E is often used in a wider range of products. While it provides antioxidant benefits, it is generally considered less potent compared to its natural counterpart.
  • Skincare Goals: Natural vitamin E is preferable because of its high efficacy, particularly for anti-ageing and skin repair. Synthetic forms can be sufficient for general skin care.
  • Understanding Ingredient Labels: Check the ingredient lists for ‘d-alpha-tocopherol’ (natural) or ‘dl-alpha-tocopherol’ (synthetic) to understand the type of vitamin E used.
  • Purest Form of Vitamin E: Vitamin E is typically listed as tocopherol or tocopheryl acetate. Both forms are effective, but tocopherol is the purest form.
  • Concentration Levels: Higher concentrations of vitamin E, indicated in percentages, may offer more benefits but could also increase the risk of skin sensitivity for some people.
  • Allergens and Irritants: Be wary of potential allergens or irritants, especially if you have sensitive skin. Avoid products with fragrances or alcohol if your skin is prone to reactions.
  • Product Suitability: Ensure the product is suitable for your skin type. Lighter formulations or serums might be preferable for oily or acne-prone skin, while creams or oils are better for dry skin.

The Best Ways to Incorporate Vitamin E into Your Skin Care Routine

Adopting these practices into your skincare routine can help maximise the benefits of vitamin E for your skin.

  1. Use Vitamin E-enriched Cleansers and Moisturisers: Start your skincare routine with products that naturally incorporate vitamin E, like cleansers, toners, and moisturisers. Opt for products labelled as containing tocopherol or tocopheryl acetate, the most common forms of vitamin E in skincare. For those who require more potent vitamin E action, choose skincare products containing natural rather than synthetic Vitamin E, as the former is typically more effective.
  2. Apply Vitamin E Oils or Serums: Apply a few drops of vitamin E oil or a serum directly onto the skin after cleansing and before moisturising. These oils or serums typically have a higher concentration of vitamin E and suit dry or mature skin types due to their strong hydrating properties and ability to combat skin damage and ageing.
  3. Incorporate Vitamin E Masks: These masks are rich in vitamin E content and are typically designed to be used once or twice a week to nourish and rejuvenate the skin deeply.
  4. Day and Night Application: Skincare products containing vitamin E can be applied both in the morning and at night. In the morning, vitamin E can help protect the skin from environmental stressors, while at night, it aids in the repair and rejuvenation process.
  5. Combination with Other Antioxidants: Vitamin E works well with other antioxidants like vitamin C and ferulic acid. Look for products that contain this combination for enhanced skin protection and repair.


Vitamin E is important for skin health, offering antioxidant effects, hydration, and healing benefits. Incorporating Vitamin E into your diet and skincare routine can significantly improve skin health and strenthen your skin barrier.

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