Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist - Written by Rithi Choudhury (Journalist) on 26th Oct 2020
Vitamin E for Hair - An Ultimate Guide
You must be living under a rock if you never came across Vitamin E at least somewhere in your lifetime (that hair oil, face cream/body lotion, and shampoo commercials on TV) and heard about its Oh! So many benefits for skin and hair.
Here we will be raving all the wonders Vitamin E can do for our ‘crown of beauty’ - our hair, list natural sources, and use it the right way.
Because who in their right mind does not want ‘Vogue Cover Page’ worthy tresses?
What is Vitamin E?
Let’s start from scratch and refresh your science class memories. Our body needs nutrients for healthy functioning, including healthy skin and hair.
Nutrients are divided into Macronutrients (needed in large quantities) and Micronutrients (needed in small amounts). Vitamins are essential micronutrients required for the proper functioning of our cells, tissues, organs, and so on.
We have a total of 13 Vitamins naming from A, B (and complex), C, D, E, and no there are no F and G. Although there is a Vitamin K. Different Vitamins play a different role in supporting our system.
Now coming back to our center of attention, Vitamin E is crucial for our body as an antioxidant, maintaining healthy skin and hair and maintaining a robust immune system.
Benefits of Vitamin E for Hair
For years Vitamin E has been favorite and famous in the skincare and cosmetic industry for its skin-beautifying properties. Those same properties are also applicable when it comes to our hair.
1. Promotes Hair Growth
According to the American Academy of dermatology, It is normal to lose about 50 -100 hair strands every day (shedding is part of the natural hair cycle). But in case you are someone who can sell their fallen hair to the wig factory - you have a hair fall problem like it or not.
Again Vitamin E’s diploma in Antioxidant - free radical scavenging activity plays a role here. According to a small study on the effect of Vitamin E supplement on hair loss, it was found it is beneficial. More research needs to be done to find out the exact relationship between Vitamin E and hair growth.
Hair grows from tiny openings called follicles, and addressing them at the root is inevitable to tackle hair fall. Oxidation from free radicals can cause hair follicle cells to break down.
Vitamin E (A potent antioxidant) repairs the hair follicles and makes them healthy by ensuring smooth blood circulation, which ultimately results in hair fall prevention accompanied by new hair growth.
2. Healthy Scalp
It is common knowledge that only a healthy scalp will yield a healthy and luscious looking mane.
Often scalp conditions like a dry scalp, dandruff, etc. can cause the hair to become dry and brittle, making it lackluster. A dry and flaky scalp is often an indication of Vitamin E deficiency.
As an antioxidant, Vitamin E repairs cellular damage in the scalp and stimulates the capillaries (tiny blood vessels) by secretion of prostacyclin, which encourages blood flow to the scalp, promoting hair growth.
It also has anti-inflammatory properties that aid in healing scalp infections.
3. Lustrous Hair
Let us accept that we put our hair through a lot of torture almost every day with all the heat styling - blow drying, straightening, curling, crimping, and anything else?
Yes - the famously infamous UV rays exposure, dust, and pollution. The hair responds to this mean treatment we make them go through by giving up their gloss.
Being an antioxidant, Vitamin E can counteract the damage wreaked by UV exposure.
Just like Vitamin E is known to bring a glow to the skin, it is also claimed to make hair lustrous and shiny. Regular use of it forms a protective layer over the scalp skin and keeps it hydrated.
That is how it gives your tresses the much, much desired Instagram worthy gloss.
However, there is no research backing this up, and claims are made based on its antioxidant properties.
4. Repairs Split-ends and Breakage
There are some fundamental truths in the World we live in. The Earth is round, the Sun rises in the east, and no matter how much fashion evolves, Split-ends and hair breakage can never, ever look trendy.
Vitamin E provides ample conditioning to the hair and coats the hair strands with its protective layer, shielding the hair from pollution, UV rays, and repairs cuticles.
5. Prevents Premature Graying
Premature white/grey/gray, however you spell it, is caused because of oxidation of tissues. Also, various deficiency studies on vitamin B-6 or B-12, Vitamin E or Vitamin D shows that lack of these Vitamins can cause white hair.
Also, Vitamin E plays a major role in preventing oxidative damage and subsequently repairing tissue corrosion, which deals with the before time hair graying problem.
How to use Vitamin E for Hair
So Vitamin E is probably your hair’s best friend. Now the question is, how do we reap all those benefits we have just read and gone awestruck?
Nutrition is vital. Be it for skin or hair health. No matter how expensive products you put on your hair, if it is not healthy from within, it will not radiate the sheen we would kill to have.
Include Vitamin E rich food sources like :
- Nuts - almonds, peanuts, hazelnuts, cashew, pumpkin seeds
- Vegetable oils - sunflower, safflower, rice bran oil, canola oil
- Fruits - avocado, kiwi, mango, apricots, blackcurrants, blackberries
- Vegetables - Broccoli, mustard greens, butternut squash, spinach
- Meat - cod, lobster, fish roe, crayfish
2. Vitamin E Oil:
Vitamin E oil in its pure form is very thick and not suitable for use on its own. This is why most OTC Vitamin E products are diluted with a carrier oil almond, coconut, olive, etc.
Alternatively, you can use Vitamin E rich oil like almond oil, olive oil, wheat germ oil to nourish your scalp and condition your hair.
Vitamin E Capsules for pure Vitamin E oil
You can also cut open the Vitamin E capsules easily available in the pharmacies and mix them with your hair oil. Massage well into your scalp at least twice a week to boost blood circulation. Directly massaging Vitamin E capsule oil can irritate.
1. Vitamin E enriched Shampoos/Conditioners:
Many shampoos and conditioners on the market are fortified with Vitamin E.
If you are not a DIY person, these products will help you to reap the goodness of Vitamin E.
If you want to target improving your hair, skin, and nails, specifically, a Vitamin E supplement is an option.
But being a fat-soluble vitamin, it is not needed in higher amounts as they are stored in the body for a longer period in the fat tissues, unlike water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin C that are easily lost.
Therefore supplements are often unnecessary unless you have a deficiency. Consult your doctor before going in with oral supplements.
There are not many side effects of the Topical use of Vitamin E for your hair. If you have oily skin, avoid using too much oil near the forehead as it may cause acne by clogging pores of your forehead.
Also, undiluted Vitamin E pure oil can cause some irritation. Other than that, Topical Vitamin E is entirely safe.
In the case of supplements, too much of anything, however good it may be, is bad. Our body has a limit for everything - be it physical labor, rest, nutrients.
Even drinking too much water can cause water intoxication. The same goes for micronutrients like Vitamin E.
The daily required value of Vitamin E is 15 mg per day (a very small quantity). Too much of this vitamin can thin the blood, which is not a good thing for people with low hemoglobin.
However, the daily limit people can consume through foods and supplements without complications is 1000 mg.
Excess Vitamin E supplements can cause below side effects:
- Consuming a high dosage of Vitamin E can also disrupt thyroid hormone production and may weaken the bones.
- High oral dosage may also cause nausea, diarrhea, fatigue, and stomach cramps.
- There are also links to increased risk of prostate cancer associated with oral supplements of Vitamin E, although more research is needed in that regard.
- A higher dosage of Vitamin E can interfere with other medications like tamoxifen - used for treatment in breast cancer and cyclosporine - used as an immunosuppressant after organ transplant.
- People with Vitamin K deficiency should particularly avoid synthetic Vitamin E consumption as it might worsen blood clotting problems.
- It might increase the risk of heart failure in diabetic patients and worsen insulin resistance when taken with a liver disease called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- Overdose of Vitamin E is linked with an increased risk of brain stroke.
- Since it is a fat-soluble vitamin taking excessive amounts of it will do no good but build up in your body fat.
The Bottom Line
The topical application of Vitamin E is mostly safe when diluted. But oral supplements should not be taken unless advised by a doctor.
Overall when used externally, Vitamin E is an excellent addition to improving skin and hair health. More research needs to be done on the topical application of this Vitamin, but it is a proven potent antioxidant.
Thus you can give it a try and see if it works for you. But make sure when choosing products like soaps and shampoo - whether they are sulfate-free otherwise, defeats the whole purpose of Vitamin E, that is, curb dryness.
Seek consultation with a doctor if you have an existing scalp or skin condition and are already under treatment before adding Vitamin E in your beauty regime.