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.

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