Some of the most beneficial skincare ingredients aren't the flashiest. Case in point: hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide. While it's well known that vitamin E oil is good for your skin, not many know that it isn't actually an oil on its own. At least, we didn't know this until we asked Athena Hewett all our burning questions about the antioxidant-rich skin savior.
What Is Vitamin E?
Vitamin E, or alpha-tocopherol, is an antioxidant vitamin that helps repair damaged cells and protects them from tissue damage. It has a wide range of benefits throughout the body and is important for your vision, reproduction, blood, brain, and skin.
Here, Hewett explains the truth about using vitamin E oil for skin, including the misconceptions, the benefits, and the best product under $100 to add to your top shelf stat.
Meet the Expert
Athena Hewett is a San Francisco-based esthetician. Hewett is the founder of the holistic skincare line Monastery, a collection of natural skincare made with a blend of the best that nature has to offer.
"There is a lot of misinformation relating to vitamin E out there," says Hewett. "There are two main types of vitamin E—tocopherol and tocopheryl acetate. Tocopherol is naturally occurring, while tocopheryl acetate is synthetic."
"In order for the body to absorb and use vitamin E, it must somehow be removed from the acetate group," she explains. "To have pure, nonsynthetic vitamin E, you have to remove it from another oil, like wheat germ oil, hazelnut oil, raspberry seed oil, tamanu oil, and the list goes on." According to Hewett, this process is very expensive, hence the common use of synthetic vitamin E by skincare brands.
"Along with being an excellent moisturizer, vitamin E is a powerhouse antioxidant," explains Hewett. "Antioxidants neutralize free radicals that occur in the skin when exposed to external factors like the sun. We need help fighting free radicals because they break down the cells of our skin and cause premature aging."
But before you drown your face in the stuff, Hewett warns that "very high levels of vitamin E, which are often found in synthetic forms, can be considered toxic and can be an irritant to some with sensitive skin." If you're worried about finding the right vitamin E product, Hewett has you covered.
The Best Vitamin E Products on the Market
While you might be tempted to reach for a product containing pure, antioxidant-rich vitamin E oil, Hewett cautions against this. "In my opinion, stripping vitamin E just to have the pure oil is kind of pointless since it's not ideal for direct use on the skin," explains Hewett.
Plus, "pure vitamin E oil smells fishy and has a very thick, sticky texture, so you would never want to use it on its own. That's why you often see it mixed with coconut oil to increase its spreadability and to dilute the odor."
Hewett also recommends using the right products for obtaining vitamin E the natural way. "Using oils and products that contain naturally high levels (non-GMO) of vitamin E is the way to go," she recommends.
Packed with Vitamin E and antioxidants, this nourishing formula reduces puffiness and fine lines, restoring smooth and supple skin around your eyes.
"This face oil contains wheat germ oil, which has one of the highest levels of naturally occurring vitamin E," Hewett says.
"This face balm contains a high level of hazelnut oil, which makes it a dry oil and a great option for those looking for a less oily feeling," recommends Hewett. "Hazelnut oil has the highest level of vitamin E behind raspberry and wheat germ oil."
"This face oil contains sea buckthorn and cranberry seed oil, which have high levels of non-GMO tocopherol," Hewett says.
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Rizvi S, Raza ST, Ahmed F, Ahmad A, Abbas S, Mahdi F. The Role of Vitamin E in Human Health and Some Diseases. Sultan Qaboos Univ Med J. 2014;14(2):e157-65.