What Vitamin E Actually Does For Your Skin


Vitamin E fights off free radicals on the skin, which are a result of daily environmental stressors like unprotected sun exposure and air pollution. In fighting off free radicals, vitamin E helps protect the skin from damage.

Additionally, vitamin E has “moisturizing and healing” benefits, and helps to “strengthen skin barrier function,” King says. Basically, it’s an all-around “workhorse of a vitamin,” as Shamban calls it. “Vitamin E is also a natural anti-inflammatory, so it can be soothing and help calm the skin,” she says. “It’s also good for hydrating skin, and serves as a moderately effective natural barrier to the sun.”

Who should use vitamin E on their skin, and who should avoid it?

“Vitamin E is usually not advisable for supersensitive, very oily, or acne-prone skin,” Shamban says. Although it’s very uncommon, topical vitamin E can also act as an allergen to some, causing irritation, itching, or even a rash when it touches the skin. Scientists still aren’t sure what causes certain people to become allergic to it (King compares it to a peanut allergy), but according to board-certified dermatologist Audrey Kunin, less than one percent of people are topically sensitive to the ingredient.

Considering that it’s also a naturally occurring substance in the body, and it’s also been shown to relieve eczema for some people, sensitivity is really “a case-by-case basis that, at this point, cannot be generalized as an allergen,” Wilson explains.

For the vast majority, though, vitamin E can posit serious skin benefits, Shamban says. Because vitamin E is oil soluble (meaning it can be delivered through or as an oil), incorporating it into your skin-care routine through oils and moisturizers are some of the best ways to use the ingredient.

When vitamin E is paired with vitamin C, Shamban says, they are even more effective as partners, which is why many serums contain both, like all-time favorites SkinCeuticals’s famous C E Ferulic serum, Maelove’s repeatedly sold-out The Glow Maker, and Sunday Riley C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum.

If you’re new to using vitamin E, or your skin is on the sensitive side, try it out in a moisturizer first (since serums are technically more potent concentrations). Some great options are the Youth to the People’s Superfood Air-Whip Moisture Cream and the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer.

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More skin-care terms to know:


Now, see how skin care has evolved within the last 100 years:

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