Everything You Need to Know About Using Vitamin E Oil for Skin

Derms rave about the ingredient—here’s why.

<p>Delmaine Donson/Getty Images</p>

Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

You probably already know that vitamin C has incredible brightening benefits, while vitamin A (aka retinol) has some stellar anti-aging perks. But did you know that vitamin E has some wonderful benefits for the skin, too? This underrated ingredient is found in many of your skincare products already, and has some pretty awesome skincare benefits that work overtime to get your skin glowing.

Below, we’ve tapped two dermatologists for their insight on how vitamin E oil benefits the skin, how to use it, and which highly recommended skincare products you can find it in, too.

What Is Vitamin E Oil?

Vitamin E oil is a fat-soluble oil that can be created naturally from nuts, seeds, and plant oils, like sunflower oil, or synthetically from tocopheryl acetate, which is more common. “Unlike some topical oils, vitamin E oil isn’t formulated specifically for skincare,” says Dr. Michael I. Jacobs, a board-certified dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology at Weill Cornell Medical College. “A product formulated for skincare will have a specific mix of ingredients and oils to treat the skin with a low risk of reaction.”

Many common oils used in skincare products, like olive or almond oil, also naturally have high levels of vitamin E, making them a good substitute.

Vitamin E Oil Benefits for Skin

Interestingly, you can find vitamin E oil already in your body. It’s a natural component of skin and sebum, and it is key to skin health. Unfortunately, it depletes with age. According to Geeta Yadav, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of FACET Dermatology, vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that helps defend our skin from damaging free radicals created by environmental factors like UV and pollution. This helps prevent premature skin aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, dark spots, and skin laxity. “It also offers anti-inflammatory properties, so it can help improve the appearance and severity of inflammatory skin conditions like eczema and acne,” she explains. “Lastly, it helps support the skin barrier for more balanced, comfortable, and nourished skin.”

The benefits you'd get from applying vitamin E topically are the same as those you'd get from taking it orally. Vitamin E is delivered from our bodies to our skin via our sebum. Dr. Yadav says that many people may find it easier to just take it as a supplement. Not only will your skin be getting the same benefits, but you'll also be delivering the benefits of vitamin E to the rest of your body (including those antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, among others)—and you'll be able to maintain your existing skincare routine, too.

How to Use Vitamin E Oil for Skin

There are a few ways you can use vitamin E oil on your skin. The first option is to apply it directly to your skin as often as you’d like. But just be sure to patch-test the product you're using before committing to a full-face application. “While it's highly unlikely that you'd have a reaction from applying the contents of a vitamin E capsule on your skin, other products may cause sensitivity and it's better to be safe than sorry,” says Dr. Yadav.

If you’re oily or acne-prone, Dr. Jacobs recommends avoiding applying straight vitamin E oil directly to your face, or anywhere else you commonly experience breakouts. “If you have very dry skin that isn’t prone to breakouts, you can apply vitamin E oil directly to the skin as a final step in your regime,” he says. “But if you have more oily skin, I recommend finding a skincare product that already includes vitamin E as an ingredient, as the formulation will be optimized to reap the benefits of all the ingredients. You can also add a drop to your moisturizer to increase the moisturizing benefits.”

You’ll also want to avoid putting vitamin E oil to the eye area, as it might cause irritation. However, according to Dr. Yadav, side effects from vitamin E are uncommon. In rare cases, applying it topically could cause atopic dermatitis or erythema. “If you are taking it orally at too high of a dose, you may experience effects including nausea, diarrhea, and headaches; in extreme cases, it could cause bleeding,” she says. “For the same reason, those who are on blood thinners or have blood coagulation disorders should not take vitamin E without medical supervision.”

Best Skin Care Products with Vitamin E Oil

Bio-Oil Skincare Oil ($25; Amazon)

Dr. Yadav likes this pick because it’s an oldie but a goodie. “In addition to vitamin E oil, it contains other oils like pomegranate seed, rosehip, jojoba, and sunflower to help deeply nourish and condition the skin,” she explains.

Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster ($55; Amazon)

This oil is a two-in-one with both vitamins C and E. “These are both antioxidants that help protect the skin from environmental aggressors and brighten your skin, too,” says Dr. Jacobs. You can also find ferulic acid and hyaluronic acid in this formula, which work to fight signs of aging and boost moisture in your skin.

U Beauty Super Intensive Face Oil ($188; Amazon)

In addition to vitamin E, this luxe formula uses hydrating hyaluronic acids, firming peptides, and nourishing jojoba and avocado oils to pamper the skin. “I especially like the color, which is naturally orangey-red from astaxanthin, an antioxidant-rich carotenoid that helps reduce transepidermal water loss,” says Dr. Yadav.

Youth to The People Superfood Air-Whip Lightweight Face Moisturizer with Hyaluronic Acid ($48; Sephora)

Dr. Jacobs recommends this pick from Youth to The People because it contains an effective blend of hyaluronic acid and green tea, with vitamin E. “It’s lightweight and helps to improve the skin’s moisture barrier function,” he says.

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