When it comes to skincare and the cosmetic industry, there’s one unfortunate truth:
Marketing hype that doesn’t live up to reality is common.
Vitamin E is an ingredient that’s often added to skin care products. And prominently advertised as a selling point.
So when I heard that applying vitamin E oil to your face has beautifying and anti-aging effects, it left me wondering:
What exactly are the benefits of vitamin E oil for skin?
And is this something I should add to my skincare routine?
Fortunately, this question has been the subject of many scientific tests.
In this article, I’ll put aside the hype to show you the truth of what it does for your skin.
And bust some of the myths that surround it.
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Vitamin E Oil Benefits For Skin
So, what is vitamin E oil good for?
Vitamin E is one of the most heavily researched antioxidants. And the scientific studies performed have shown a number of benefits for your skin:
Photoprotection & Anti-Aging
The main role of vitamin E in your skin is to protect it from the damaging effects of UV exposure.
As a powerful antioxidant, it neutralizes free radicals that cause damage to cellular membranes and DNA.
This damage can result in cancer. And contributes to the formation of lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin.
Scientific studies have proved that applying vitamin E to the skin is successful in increasing protection from the sun’s rays (1).
So using it can slow the rate at which your skin ages.
When you combine vitamins C and E together, this protective effect is amplified.
But research suggests that oral consumption of vitamin E has no photoprotective benefit. So you need to apply it directly.
Topical vitamin E can improve the appearance and texture of rough and dry skin.
This is because it has an important role in maintaining skin barrier function. So it helps your skin to retain water.
Because of this some people also find it useful to put it on chapped lips.
Did you know that you can use vitamin E after spending time in the sun to reduce its harmful effects?
When you get sunburn, damage continues to occur in your skin for many hours after you retreat into the shade.
Studies have shown that applying vitamin E to the skin after exposure to sunlight minimizes the formation of sunburn cells. Reducing the swelling and inflammation associated with UV damage (2).
It’s best to apply it soon after exposure. But it can still help even when applied 8 hours later (3).
Dermatitis is a common skin condition. It’s caused by inflammation of the skin in response to an allergen or irritant.
Thankfully, vitamin E has anti-inflammatory properties. And it can be used to successfully treat inflammatory skin conditions.
Studies have shown that oral supplementation with vitamin E can improve the severity of symptoms and quality of life in sufferers of atopic dermatitis (4).
The level of vitamin E in your skin can be significantly increased by applying it directly.
So the use of vitamin E oil may help to alleviate symptoms for those who are struggling with this condition.
Age Spots, Melasma, Hyperpigmentation, And Skin Lightening
Melanin is the pigment that’s found in your skin and gives it its color.
But excessive production of melanin can result in skin discoloration disorders, such as melasma and age spots.
Studies show that Vitamin E can have a depigmenting effect on the skin that can lighten dark patches of melanin (5).
Another study showed that the combination of vitamins E and C increases the depigmenting effect compared to either on their own (6).
Unfortunately, no treatment exists that can cure you of the herpes simplex virus that causes cold sores.
But experiments show that topical vitamin E can be used to help relieve the pain and heal the affected area.
In one study, cotton soaked in vitamin E oil was applied to cold sores for a 15 minute period.
Pain relief occurred within a period of 15 minutes to 8 hours. And the appearance of the blisters was significantly reduced.
And in another study, 50 volunteers had vitamin E oil applied to their cold sores every 4 hours.
Resulting in fast and lasting pain relief and an increased rate of healing (7).
Vitamin E Oil Uses – Lack Of Supporting Evidence
There are many tips and claims online about the healing powers of vitamin E oil.
However, scientific evidence to support some of these claims is lacking. In some cases, studies even indicate the opposite.
It’s worth knowing the truth about these claims so you can avoid wasting your time and money on a treatment that might not work.
At the very least, you can make a better decision about giving it a try.
Some people report that using vitamin E oil has helped them with stretch marks and scars.
It doesn’t mean these people are wrong.
But it’s good to be aware that these uses are not currently supported by science.
Vitamin E Oil Can Prevent And Treat Stretch Marks
Unfortunately, there’s no hard scientific evidence to support this claim.
Six studies that were carried out involving 800 women volunteers found there was no significant difference in the development of stretch marks when using topical preparations containing vitamin E (8).
Vitamin E Oil Can Be Used To Remove Scars
Many websites recommend vitamin E as a treatment for scar removal. But this is lacking credible support.
Scientific studies indicate that topical vitamin E has no benefit in improving and reducing the appearance of scars.
In fact, in some cases, the appearance of the scar worsened (9).
According to dermatologist Dr. Philip Artemi, the Honorary Secretary of the Australasian College of Dermatologists, it’s now considered ‘a proven scientific fact’ that vitamin E will not help remove scars (10).
Vitamin E Oil Stimulates Collagen Production
Collagen provides your skin with strength and firmness.
As the claim goes, vitamin E oil stimulates its production.
Helping to reverse the skin damage caused by aging and sun exposure.
Some sources claim it boosts the production of elastin as well, increasing skin elasticity
But there’s a problem.
It’s hard to find any scientific studies that support the claims that alpha-tocopherol has these benefits for skin repair.
Topical vitamin E Helps To Heal Wounds
Another claim not fully supported by scientific studies. And those that have been performed give conflicting indications.
Some studies suggest an improved appearance of scarring when vitamin E is applied to the wound site before and after surgery.
But another study that treated 159 patients after their surgery with topical vitamin E found that there was no benefit to the treatment (11).
And some suggest that topical vitamin E has an inhibitory effect on collagen production at wound sites. And therefore impairs the wound healing process.
Vitamin E Oil Side Effects And Precautions
For the vast majority of people, vitamin E oil is safe and easily tolerated on the skin.
But, evidence suggests that some people can be allergic to it and rashes can occur when it’s used.
Before using it on a large area of your skin such as your face, it’s probably best to do a quick patch test.
Apply a small amount of vitamin E oil to the back of your wrist so that you can see if you have any reaction to it.
The benefits of vitamin E oil for skin have been well studied in scientific experiments.
All of the evidence suggests that vitamin E oil can be a very useful addition to an anti-aging skincare regime.
Its ability to protect the skin from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays can help to keep you looking young.
And its proven moisturizing properties will give you a fresh and healthy appearance.
Have you tried vitamin E oil on your skin yet? Let us know about your experience in the comments below.