Ready to feel more confident when reading your beauty products' ingredient labels? Enter, the Allure Ingredient Index. In this comprehensive guide, you'll find everything you need to know about the most in-demand (and under-the-radar) ingredients in your favorite skin-care products.
Of the many skin-care ingredients out there, vitamin E is definitely one of the most common. It's found naturally in our bodies and in certain foods. And if you look closely, you'll probably find it in many of the skin-care products already in your medicine cabinet — serums, moisturizers, eye creams, and just about everything in between. You may have even tried taking vitamin E in supplement form.
But what exactly is vitamin E, and what can it do for your skin? We asked a team of experts for a quick refresher course on all things vitamin E, including who should (and shouldn't) use it, and the best ways to incorporate it into your skin-care routine.
What is vitamin E?
Yes, it is a vitamin, but if you want to get technical, the term vitamin E actually refers to a group of compounds. "Vitamin E is the name given to [a] family of oil-soluble antioxidants," explains cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson. "There are about eight different types" or forms of vitamin E, and of those, "tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol are most commonly found in skin-care products."
In other words, although there are technically eight chemical forms in which vitamin E naturally occurs, when you see "vitamin E" on your skin-care or supplement packaging, it's almost always tocopherol. This is the only form of vitamin E that's recognized to meet human requirements, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). So if you see the term "tocopherol" on the ingredient list of your favorite serum or moisturizer, it's vitamin E.
How does vitamin E benefit skin?
"Topically, it can be very helpful [for] a range of skin disorders, as well as skin repair," explains board-certified dermatologist Ava Shamban, M.D. "It assists in various kinds of cellular restoration from sun damage to healing support for scars or burns." But how does vitamin E work on the skin? What is the mechanism?
As mentioned, vitamin E is an antioxidant, explains cosmetic chemist Ginger King. A quick refresher on why antioxidants are so important to our health, topically and internally: They prevent oxidative damage to cells by helping to remove free radicals (the bad guys).