Medically reviewed by Minimalist Health Specialist -  Written by Arpita Singh (Beauty Expert)  on 15th Aug 2020

Is Vitamin E Oil Good for the Face?

Vitamin E for face

Catching several rides up and down the town in the scorching heat and, sometimes, without any protection from the sun can badly affect your skin. You wish you could complain about it, but you can't.

It may be your work that needs you to run a marathon during the daytime. Or, your ambitions, or your bouncy and adventurous spirits. Or, a responsibility!

Whatever it is, you can't stick tight in the shade because of the fear of sunburns and worsening acne. Wrinkles may enlarge, but should that stop you from stepping out.

Oh, yes! Sunscreens save the day for you. Do you know, vitamin E is a common ingredient found in almost all the sunscreens? 

What is vitamin E? 

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient; your body needs to support the immune system and regenerate new cells. It occurs as two separate classes of molecules.

1) Tocopherols exist in the four forms - alpha, beta, gamma, and delta (profusely formed in the human body).

2) Tocotrienols exist in the four forms as well (less common in the body).

Nature has huge reserves of vitamin E. It is found in,

- Vegetable oils such as wheat germ oil, sunflower oil.
- Fruits including avocado, apricots, blackberries.
- Green vegetables such as spinach, broccoli.

On most food labels, you will find the naturally occurring version of vitamin E mentioned as d-alpha-tocopherol.

Commercially produced vitamin E is often referred to as dl-alpha-tocopherol, and you can look for it in the ingredient list of many cosmetic products. It works more efficiently and gets quickly absorbed when used in combination with vitamin C.

Vitamin E reduces the free radical damage caused by the UV (ultraviolet) exposure.

Minimalist Expert’s Advice

Use Vitamin C, and Vitamin E in combination, as the combo is proven (by JAAD) to improve photo-protection. Know more about Vitamin C

Have you ever heard of the free radical theory of aging? 

Let's get the science behind it. UV rays are the main creators of free radicals in the skin.

A free radical damages the skin by trying to gain an extra electron from the atoms in the skin. It breaks down collagen, resulting in premature aging.

They also weakened skin, making it look loose and saggy. Some brown spots may also get prominent at various points on the skin.

Free radicals are also produced as a result of body metabolism, and due to exposure to the other toxins in the environment, such as pollution, tobacco smoke, dust, etc.  

Benefits of Vitamin E Oil for Skin 

  • Free radical scavenger.

    How exactly? Vitamin E is an antioxidant and can donate an electron to a free radical. It attempts to stabilize the free radicals and lessen (or relax) the oxidative stress.

    Vitamin E molecules can absorb the UV radiation and reduce the damage the harmful rays bring to the skin.

    One human study (involving the oral administration of vitamin E) reported that it reduced the UV-induced damage in the skin. Yet, no overall photo-protective activity was confirmed.

    However, Multiple kinds of research claim, if vitamin E is used in combination with vitamin C while following oral supplements, an increased degree of protection is provided against the UV damage. 
  • Anti-inflammatory.

    Several studies support that it limits the immune cell activation after UV exposure, trying to curb out the inflammation that follows after that.

    Topical vitamin E can reduce UV-induced skin swelling, skin thickness, erythema, edema, and all signs of skin inflammation.

    There are a few limitations, putting stop caps on its benefits. Yet, vitamin E is used to treat chronic inflammatory skin conditions, either alone or in combination with vitamin C and vitamin D. 
  • Wound healer

    The levels of skin antioxidants (including vitamin C, vitamin E, and glutathione) take a sharp dip at the site of a cutaneous (related to skin) wound.

    However, during the healing process of the same, skin antioxidants slowly increase because they are required for the regeneration of new cells.

    The oral therapies used to cure the pressure ulcers (bed sores) and burns employ vitamin E as an active ingredient and vitamin C and zinc. 
  • Prevents Wrinkles

    It sure protects the skin from UV-induced free radical damage. As a straight result, it helps you maintain the firmness and elasticity of the skin, thereby preventing the wrinkles from showing up.
    But, there are no significant studies that can confirm whether it can treat pre-existing wrinkles.
  • Acts as a moisturizer

    Oils containing tocopherols and tocotrienols have been reported to have moisturizing properties. Yet again, not much data approves their real-time utility.

    Two small studies have shown that vitamin E's topical application can improve the water-binding capacity of the skin (only after 2 - 4 weeks of use).
  • Treats chronic skin conditions

    It considerably reduces the symptoms of atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. Research suggests that fat-soluble Vitamin E can help in reducing the inflammation.
  • Soothes the chapped and dry lips

    It promotes the cell regeneration process, aiding the new cells to come to the surface faster.
    The thick consistency of vitamin E oil can also prevent further irritation. 

Vitamin E oil or capsule?

Synthetic vitamins are available in the form of many cosmetic products, such as anti-aging creams, pure oils, eye serums, sunscreens, moisturizers, and makeup.

They contain vitamin E as an active ingredient and a concentration frame of 0.5% to 1%.

Pure vitamin E oil can also be obtained as capsules, commonly known as Vitamin E capsules, which you only need to break open and apply. You can directly use the capsules on the affected area or the dry parts of your skin.

Generally, topical products contain a mixture of tocopherols and tocotrienols. After application, they accumulate in the stratum corneum (the outermost layer of the skin).

Topical vitamin E even permeates the epidermis and dermis. Its rate of absorption into the skin and how far it can penetrate are mostly unknown in humans. 

How to use vitamin E oil on your face? 

1. An overnight treatment can be nourishing.

Typically, you apply a serum, or a mixture of oils containing vitamin E, as an overall treatment for the face.

Vitamin E has a thick consistency. It is advised to apply the oil overnight to manage all the hours required to get fully absorbed into the skin. 

Steps to condition your face with Vitamin E oil

  • Wash your face clean of any makeup or other skincare product. Try keeping a hot towel wrapped around your face for 2-3 minutes. It will allow your pores to open up and to soak in the oil better. After that, pat your skin dry.
  • If you are using a vitamin E capsule (or pure oil), you need to mix one or two drops of the oil for every 10 drops of the carrier oil.
    The carrier oil dilutes the vitamins and enables them to stay on the skin for a more extended period. Some being almond oil, coconut oil, jojoba oil, etc.
  • Apply the oil mixture, or the serum of your choice, to the skin using your fingers. Draw small circular motions on your face, rubbing it. Try and reach every corner of your face, and spread the product out as far it can go.
  • You should wait for at least 20 minutes after the application of the oil mixture. Don't rest your face on a pillow or any other surface.
  • When using active ingredients such as Vitamin C on your skin, it is non-negotiable to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen SPF 30 and above in the day time to protect your skin from sunburn.

Repeat the treatment once or twice a week, as a part of your skincare routine, about 30 minutes before bedtime.

Pure Vitamin E oil is not recommended for people with oily skin as it can clog pores. They can think of getting Vitamin E in a non-comedogenic moisturizer form.

2. Use of masks to get a topical supply of vitamin E.

You can create your DIY mask by combining vitamin E oil with almond oil, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, honey, and avocado. Leave the mixture on your face for 10 to 20 minutes.

It enhances the clarity of your skin, making it brighter and softer. 

3. As spot treatment 

 Some people use topical vitamin E products as spot treatments for acne scarring. The results on how effectively it removes the scars are inconclusive.
If you would like to try it, use pure vitamin oil, or look for a product that promises a high concentration of alpha-tocopherol. Apply it to the scarred area. Give it sufficient time to absorb fully into the skin.

Please avoid applying Vitamin E oil on acne-prone areas of your face such as T zone and chin. 

How can vitamin E be taken orally? 

There are two ways. Firstly, through natural food as part of our metabolic diet. Secondly, in the form of synthetic supplements and capsules. Both the methods supply you with alpha and gamma tocopherols primarily.

Vitamin E orally administered to the body is received in the sebaceous glands. The sebum produced takes the essential nutrients to the different layers of the skin.

They provide a solid backing to your body's nutritional needs. However, the natural form of vitamins is more potent than the synthetic version. 

Just so you know, teens, adults, and pregnant women should consume no more than 15 mg of vitamin E each day. Breastfeeding women need around 19 mg of vitamin E each day.

A clinical study trial reported that excessive vitamin E dietary supplements significantly increased the risk of prostate cancer in otherwise healthy men.

So, consult your doctor before including Vitamin E supplements in your diet. 

To make the most out of your Vitamin E skincare regime follow some of these pro-tips

  • If you have dry skin, you can leave the vitamin E oil on your face (or any part of the body that you have applied on) for an entire night.
  • If you have sensitive skin or one which faces breakouts regularly, wash the oil mixture off your skin (face, or any other body part) after 15 minutes.The vitamin E oil is thick and can clog your pores and worsen your acne conditions. Over time, if you don't experience breakouts, you can extend the time limit.  
  • If you have oily skin, consider using a moisturizer with an appropriate concentration of alpha-tocopherol.
  •  If you wish to apply the oil to the rest of your body, make sure it doesn't touch your clothes. As it can positively stain them.

What are the side effects of using vitamin E? 

Too much vitamin E supplement can be harmful.

To include vitamin E into your diet, you can eat as many fruits or vegetables as possible. They will do you no harm.

But the synthetic version of vitamin E should be dealt with caution. The oral supplements of vitamin E may cause side effects. (However, such symptoms occur rarely.
- Nausea
- Diarrhea
- Intestinal cramps
- Fatigue
- Weakness
- Headache
- Blurred vision
- The increased concentration of creatinine in urine.

There are no severe side effects of topical application of Vitamin E oil. It may cause mild irritation in hypersensitive skin.

Key Takeaway 

Vitamin E, no doubt, is excellent ingredient and essential for your skin. The topical application of vitamin E oil is generally effective for reducing photo-damage, preventing wrinkles, and combating dryness.

Although Vitamin E oil is safe for the skin or face, it is heavy oil and not recommended for people with oily skin.

Vitamin E supplements shall be taken after proper consultation from your doctor or dietician.