Many of us have heard of vitamin E and know that it’s beneficial for the skin. Well, you probably already even have a few products lying around that contains vitamin E as a key ingredient, or taken it as a supplement for overall skin health. After all, it’s one of those ingredients that have been around for as long as you can remember and frequently outshone by other trendier skincare buzzwords. But do you know how it actually works and what kind of skin types it is best suited for? Here, all the fundamentals you need to know about vitamin E.
What is vitamin E?
Simply put, vitamin E is a naturally occurring compound that’s present in the skin. It is a powerful antioxidant which can protect the skin against environmental aggressors, stave off damage caused by pollution and prevent the skin from weakening. However, its level starts to deplete with age, prolonged UV exposure and free radical damage.
While there are eight forms of vitamin E, it is usually labelled on skincare products as tocopherol or tocopherol acetate. Moreover, vitamin E can be naturally derived from botanicals like wheat germ or synthetically manufactured, although research have shown that vitamin E of a natural source is more powerful.
How does it work?
Since vitamin E is oil-soluble, it is already naturally compatible with the skin’s lipid barrier. In addition, it is also often combined with other ingredients like vitamin C for a synergistic effect and formulated in cream and oil formats for optimal penetration into the skin.
Once absorbed into the skin, vitamin E’s antioxidant properties kick in, neutralising free radical damage by disrupting the harmful chain reaction set off by free radicals. In addition, vitamin E also has moisturising, healing and anti-inflammatory benefits, making it ideal for dry and irritated skin with a compromised barrier function. Upon application, vitamin E replenishes skin with hydration, calms redness and helps rebuild and strengthen the lipid barrier. This in turn, enables the skin to retain moisture even better and keep potential irritants out for smoother, healthier skin.
Who is it best for?
Due to its intensely nourishing properties, vitamin E works best for those with dry to very dry skin types. So if you have oily, acne-prone skin, it’s best to avoid it. In addition, those with sensitive skin types should also avoid applying pure vitamin E oil onto skin (even on dry and flaky patches) as it is known to be an allergen in some cases when topically applied. To err on the safe side, it’s best to always do a patch test before applying on your face if you have sensitive skin.
What should you buy?
Who says only your skin deserves the TLC of vitamin E? Briogeo’s B. Well Organic + Cold-Pressed 100% Castor Oil, $44 for 45ml, is made of 100 percent organic castor oil and is perfect for hydrating dry skin and smoothing dry ends. Rich in fatty acids and vitamin E, a small amount is sufficient to strengthen skin’s barrier function and improve hair elasticity.
For a heavy-duty moisturiser that doesn’t feel greasy on skin, try Blackmores Natural Vitamin E Cream Skin Barrier, $30 for 50g. Supported by arginine PCA, microalgae and an anti-pollution polymer made of botanical oils, it delivers antioxidant benefits, conditions dry skin and forms a protective veil over skin surface to keep pollution particles out.
For all-night hydration, try The Body Shop Vitamin E Sink-In Moisture Sleeping Mask, $33 for 100ml. Formulated to maintain skin health, it infuses skin with a blend of botanical oils that are rich in vitamin E and panthenol to lock in moisture so you wake up to supple and plump skin.
Or treat your skin to Alpha-H’s Multivitamin Super Cream, $81 for 50ml. Just like how taking multi-vitamin pill improves your health, this concentrated cream releases vitamins A, B, C and E over time to improve skin vitality and health. More importantly, your skin is bathed in a specially calibrated formula where the vitamins complement one another for your best skin ever.
Thanks to its nourishing ability, Vitamin E can also be used to treat and soften chapped lips. Hourglass Nº 28™ Lip Treatment Oil, $82 for 7.5ml, is a blend of 28 lip-conditioning ingredients, including vitamin E, olive oil and evening primrose oil, to boost moisture levels and reduce the appearance of fine line lines for smoother, plumper lips.