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vitamin e oil for skincare

How to use Vitamin E oil on your face

23 Nov 2022 • 4 min read

We all know that working vitamins into our diet is essential for our overall health. For instance, the Vitamin D our bodies generate from sunlight on our skin provides us with an all-important boost.

Meanwhile, Vitamin C can help support our immunity, as well as help maintain healthy skin (plus many other things). And various other vitamins, not to mention, minerals, all have a part to play in keeping us fit and healthy.

We can eat a diet that’s rich in vitamins and minerals or we can take supplements, or follow a combination of the two.

But did you know that applying vitamins to your skin can also work wonders?

Vitamin E happens to be one of those skin-boosting vitamins that can really work its magic on your face when applied topically.

What is Vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a nutrient found in foods like nuts, seed and green vegetables. It’s been a staple ingredient in skincare products for many years (more on the reasons why below).1

According to the NHS, Vitamin E helps maintain healthy skin and eyes and strengthen the body's natural defence against illness and infection. Men need 4mg of Vitamin E and women need 3mg a day.

Ideally, we should be able to get all of the Vitamin E we need from our diet.

It’s important we eat Vitamin E-rich foods every day though because it’s one of those vitamins that isn’t stored in the body for future use.

If you find your Vitamin E levels are low or you don’t particularly eat much food that contains Vitamin E, then you may want to take Vitamin E supplements.

Speak to your GP before taking them; just to check it’s safe for you to do so.

What is Vitamin E oil?

When it comes to Vitamin E and skincare, Vitamin E is recognised as being an important fat-soluble antioxidant that happens to have been used in dermatology for more than 50 years. It’s found in many cosmetic products, mainly as an oil or cream.2

There are various forms of Vitamin E available. There’s the synthetic version, of which there are eight different types – one of which is identical to the natural form of Vitamin E.

You can tell if skincare products contain the natural form of Vitamin E because tocopheryl acetate (AKA natural Vitamin E) will feature on the ingredients list.3

However, natural Vitamin E is around eight times more expensive than synthetic Vitamin E. As a result, it’s the synthetic form that’s generally found in cosmetics, especially in high potency products. 

Summary

  • Vitamin E is a nutrient we can get through our diet (e.g. nuts, seeds and green veg)
  • It’s key for maintaining healthy skin and eyes and boosting our immune systems
  • Vitamin E oils that contain the natural form of Vitamin E have tocopheryl acetate on the ingredients list

9 benefits of using Vitamin E face oil

As a vital nutrient, Vitamin E oil has the ability to leave skin looking smoother and nourished over time.

  1. It can help with dry skin

Research has shown Vitamin E is an effective mineral in relieving sensitive skin conditions.4

This is due to the fact it’s an oil-soluble nutrient and is therefore heavier than water-soluble products.

It can reportedly restore lost moisture for up to 16 hours, making it a valuable source of moisture for thirsty, dry skin.5,6

  1. It protects against sun damage

Research has found that Vitamin E has photoprotective properties, which are linked to its anti-oxidant abilities.

Photoprotection is the biochemical process that helps organisms cope with molecular damage caused by sunlight. 7

  1. It removes dirt

As a heavy emollient, the Vitamin E oil could help pull dirt from clogged pores and leave your skin looking brighter and fresher.

  1. It may protect against sun damage

According to a study carried out in 2013, mice that were given supplements containing Vitamin E were less likely to develop skin cancer, even after being exposed to large quantities of UV light.

However, these benefits are yet to be proven with humans.8

  1. It can help with evening the tone of your skin

A study has shown that Vitamin E and Vitamin C work together to reduce the appearance of patchy skin caused by the effects of the sun’s UV rays.9

  1. It can help soothe itchy skin

Given its moisturising properties, Vitamin E is widely recognised as potentially being able to offer temporary relief from itching caused by dry skin.

This is mainly down to its oil-soluble state (which we mentioned a bit further up) that can really help lock moisture in for several hours at a time.10

  1. It can help with younger looking skin

As an antioxidant, Vitamin E can improve the appearance of skin by helping the face look firmer and fuller, and helping keep some of the main signs of ageing, i.e. wrinkles and fine lines, at bay.11

It does this by keeping the lipids (natural fats) fresh in the skin, which helps keep the skin's protective barrier intact.12

  1. It can be used to soothe sunburn

Vitamin E is packed full of antioxidants that neutralise the effects of free radicals caused by ultraviolet radiation, making it effective at helping soothe sunburnt skin.13

It helps skin that’s been burnt and wounded by speeding up the skin-healing process by as much as 50%.14

  1. It can help tackle dark under eye circles

As we’ve just mentioned, Vitamin E’s antioxidant makeup means it’s a powerful free radical fighter that can help tackle the signs of ageing (e.g. fine lines and wrinkles), as well as help lighten dark under-eye circles.

At night, gently massage a drop of Vitamin E oil into your dark circles. Leave it overnight to soak in and then rinse off in the morning with warm water. (Always do a patch test first though).15

Summary

  • Vitamin E oil is renowned for its antioxidant and moisturising properties
  • It can deliver lots of skin health benefits, such as helping fight the signs of ageing, reducing dark circles and removing dirt
  • It can also be used to help prevent and soothe sunburn

Can you put Vitamin E oil directly on your skin?

There are a few steps to applying Vitamin E oil safely and effectively. Here’s how to use Vitamin E oil on your face:

  1. Conduct a patch test. Vitamin E oil isn’t for everyone and can adversely react with some people’s skin. That’s why you should always test the product on the back of your hand and leave it 24 hours to check for any redness or soreness.
  2. Providing there’s no bad reaction, you can begin using Vitamin E oil on your face. You’ll need to wash your face first and dry it by patting gently with a towel.
  3. Warm a towel on a radiator and wrap it across your face, leaving it for a couple of minutes. The heat will help to open your pores; making it easier for the oil to soak in.
  4. Place a pea-sized amount of oil on the ends of your fingers and then gently rub into the skin across your face and neck.
  5. Leave on for a suitable amount of time. What’s classed as ‘suitable’ depends on your skin type and the results you’re hoping to achieve from the oil. Those with sensitive skin shouldn’t leave it on for much longer than 15 minutes. If you’re using the oil to treat dry skin, it can be left on overnight.
  6. Rinse the oil off with warm water and dry your face gently. If you’ve left the oil on overnight, you can simply do this during your morning shower.

Is Vitamin E oil suitable for everyone?

Whether you use, or how long you leave Vitamin E oil on for, depends on your skin type.

Sensitive skin

15 minutes maximum, as the oil can irritate the skin if left on. To dilute it for longer use, try mixing your Vitamin E oil with jojoba or coconut oil.

Oily skin

15 minutes maximum, as the oil is thick and can contribute to the clogging of pores if left too long. With 15 minutes, you should see the benefits without risking the downsides.

Dry skin

Overnight, as the moisturising qualities of the oil will need time to work on your skin.

Normal skin

You should be okay to use the oil overnight, but you may wish to dilute it with another base oil.

Vitamin E oil during pregnancy

Oils, such as Vitamin E and coconut oil, that have the ability to lock moisture into skin are believed to help manage the appearance of stretch marks by helping keep skin supple and preventing dry skin.

It’s also been linked to potentially helping with pregnancy-related acne and eczema too.16 Speak to your GP before you use it though.

Handpicked content: What are stretch marks and what can I do about them?

Summary

  • Vitamin E oil isn’t for everyone and may adversely react with some people’s skin
  • If you can use it, make sure you leave it on for the right amount of time according to your skin type
  • If you have dry or sensitive skin, rinse it off after 15 minutes. If you have dry or normal skin, you should be able to leave it on overnight

A few final words about using Vitamin E oil on your face…

Vitamin E oil packs a mighty punch, particularly when it comes to helping maintain healthy skin, protecting against everyday pollutants, especially the sun’s harmful UV rays, as well as repairing skin.

As with all skincare products, it’s important you do a patch test to make sure your skin gets on with it, and if it does, then you’ll probably wonder how you’ve got by without using it before now.

It’s remarkable how this one oil alone, is responsible for so much skin goodness.

Do you want to eat more food that contains Vitamin E? Take a look at this article, ‘A day of Vitamin E rich eating’, which explains what you can eat to easily boost your Vitamin E intake.

The advice in this article is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please check with your GP or healthcare professional before trying any supplements, treatments or remedies. Food supplements must not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle.

Last updated: 15 June 2021

manisha-taggar

Manisha Taggar

Author

Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: May 2019

BSc Hons in Pharmaceutical & Cosmetic Science

Manisha started her career at a Cosmetics distributor as a Regulatory Technologist followed by a Regulatory Affairs Officer, ensuring the regulatory compliance of cosmetic products from colour cosmetics to skincare.

After 3 and half years in this role, Manisha joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.

Manisha specialises in Cosmetic products, both own-label and branded lines, ensuring that these products and all relating marketing material comply to the EU Cosmetics Regulation.

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