Why applying vitamin E to your face is the key to healthy, happy, hydrated skin

moisturizing is what keeps your skin happy
You need to use vitamin E in your skincare, STATLumiNola - Getty Images

We all know, or have probably heard along the grapevine, that vitamin E is good for your skin, right? But you're probably less familiar with what it actually is, how it works and the specifics of its long list of benefits.

Allow us then, to reveal everything you need know about this nourishing, hydrating super ingredient. I say 'us,' but really, I mean some of the best skincare pros in the business.

From quenching seriously thirsty complexions to waging war on free radical damage, vitamin E has a multitude of uses, which probably means you'll be adding this wonder vitamin to your skincare arsenal in no time at all.

What is vitamin E?

'Vitamin E is actually a group of eight compounds, tocopherols and tocotrienols. They are fat-soluble, and are essential nutrients for skin health and for wellbeing,' explains Dr Sophie Shotter, from Illuminate Skin Clinic.

'Vitamin E is found in many foods including vegetable oils, cereals, meat, poultry, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and wheat germ oil. As well as getting vitamin E via foods, it can also be taken via a supplement and applied topically to the skin,' adds Consultant Dermatologist at Cranley Clinic Dr Ophelia Veraitch.

What are the benefits of vitamin E?

1. Gives antioxidant protection

'Due to its molecular structure, Vitamin E is effective in minimising the damaging effects of free radicals by donating a hydrogen atom, which ultimately renders the free radical harmless. Vitamin E is also incorporated into cell membranes, thereby protecting cells from oxidative damage.

'For the skin, this means reducing damages due to pollution, inflammation and UV, keeping the health of the skin in top condition,' explains Dr Vincent Wong, Cosmetic Doctor at Vindocs Aesthetics and Etrevous panel member.

2. Reduces the appearance of scars

'It is believed that vitamin E speeds up skin healing and regeneration which is what you want for scar healing. I would not expect a miracle when it comes to old scars, but it is recommended for newly formed scars and would come as one of the ingredients,' says Dr Galyna Selezneva, from Dr Rakus Clinic.

3. Calms inflammation

This one isn't backed up by clinical trial data, but hear us out. 'There is anecdotal evidence suggesting that Vitamin E helps repair damages from acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and in general wound healing,' adds Dr Wong.

4. Strengthens the skin barrier

'Vitamin E has been shown to reduce the effects of UV damage to the skin,' says Dr Ewoma Ukeleghe, an aesthetic doctor and founder of skndoctor.

5. Moisturises dry skin

'It’s also deeply nourishing and moisturising so helps to soothe skin and as well as strengthening barrier function,' adds Dr Ukeleghe.

Does vitamin E help repair skin?

'Yes,' says Dr Ukeleghe. 'Vitamin E helps repair skin by assisting in skin cell restoration, helping with sun damage, scars or broken skin.'

Can you apply vitamin E oil directly to skin?

'Yes you can, although it may be more beneficial to start using it as a moisturiser as it is possible to react to potent oils. The oils can however be very helpful for dry body skin and cuticles,' explains Dr Shotter.

Yet Melanie Black, Training & Scientific Communications Manager at Avène. also adds 'you can indeed apply the oil from a capsule directly on to the skin'. However, people believe that this is a way of getting it in its purest form however this is not really the case. It is always in a carrier oil and not always possible to see how stable the form of vitamin E actually is.'

'It can be very hydrating for dry skin but can be too heavy on normal combination skin so if you are going to try it make sure you take into account your skin type beforehand,' she adds.

Does vitamin E help with scars?

'Despite the lack of controlled clinical trials, I do believe that Vitamin E can help with the reduction of scars, and many patients have seen great results with the right product and in combination with in-clinic treatments,' says Dr Wong.

However, he adds that some scars do respond better than others. 'In keloid scars for example, the efficacy of Vitamin E on its own has been disappointing' adds Dr Wong.

Which is best for skin: vitamin C or E?

'There has been much interest in the combination of vitamins C and E together. Many studies have shown a synergistic effect between both of these vitamins, meaning that one boosts the effects of the other in terms of photoprotection, pigmentation reduction and dermal collagen production. This explains the increasing number of products combining these. There is a similar synergistic relationship with Ferulic acid,' says aesthetic doctor Dr David Jack.

How you use vitamin E on your face daily?

You sure can. In fact, you can use it pretty much as often as you like. 'Most cosmetic preparations contain around 0.5-1% vitamin E. It can be safely used at these levels several times per day,' says Dr Jack.

Consultant Dermatologist at Cranley Clinic Dr Ophelia Veraitch says, 'It’s best to apply after cleansing in the morning as free radical damage builds up during the day so antioxidants protect against these daytime free radicals.

Finally, Dr Ukeleghe adds that 'if you have very oily, acne-prone skin, you may find that vitamin E in its oil form may even make breakouts worse. For such skin types, a water-based vitamin C or vitamin E in a cream would be more preferable.'

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