• Vitamin E

What You Didn’t Really Know about Vitamin E Cream in Your Skincare Products!

Vitamin E miracle or marketing?

It is no longer a great secret that anti-oxidants are an essential part of my skincare products. Everybody is, of course, familiar with Vitamin C, which I have written about previously in my blog. But another heaven sent gift is Vitamin E. Quite some miracles are being attributed to Vitamin E cream, such as the disappearance of scars, just as snow melts in the sun. But is this really the case, or is it mainly intended to entice us into buying all those expensive pots? Time for the truth…

What is Vitamin E?

We need to obtain Vitamin E, or Tocopherol, from food as we don’t produce it ourselves. It is found in, among other things, fresh vegetables, vegetable oils, nuts and grain. It is an important vitamin for your body, but an essential one for your skin. Vitamin E is the most common naturally occurring vitamin in the skin. It is mainly found in the layer with the dead skin cells, and, via our body, it ends up in the sebum and, in this way, into the uppermost skin layer. Research has shown that many people are deficient in Vitamin E; I am now going to explain the effect this has on your skin…

The evidence

There is no denying it, Vitamin E cream really does work! This vitamin helps to slow down sun burn, it limits the damage to cells which the sun causes and, in combination with Vitamin C, diminishes pigmentation spots. Furthermore, it reinforces the barrier function of the skin; it is not for nothing that there are very high concentrations of Vitamin E in vernix caseosa (the waxy coating) on a newborn baby (abstract). Last but not least, this vitamin makes it possible for other active ingredients in skincare products to penetrate deeper into the skin enabling them to do their work. Sadly, one thing which may disappoint you; there is absolutely no proof that it can do anything to reduce scar tissue!
Although alot less research has been carried out into the effects on the skin when Vitamin E is taken orally, a recent single blind placebo controlled experiment revealed that people with the atopic dermatitis (eczema), who took a supplement, showed a considerable improvement compared with patients who took a placebo pill (abstract).

Is it also effective in a pot?

Vitamin E is just not handy in cosmetics. It is sensitive to light and oxygen and therefore needs to be carefully packaged in order to be effective. If you are searching for a cream containing Vitamin E then you should avoid pots! Besides this, not all types of it have the same efficiency. The most effective type is Alpha-Tocopherol. This ingredient is very unstable and therefore esters are usually added to it. Unfortunately these esters are less active or, in some cases, even in-active. Also important, of course, besides this is the concentration. A minimum of 0.5% Vitamin E is required in the product and this needs to be Alpha-Tocopherol itself and not an ester of it. As well as this, in order to guarantee the effectiveness and stability of this vitamin, other anti-oxidants are a requirement in the product. Vitamin C and Vitamin E are just like Bert and Ernie; inseparable. Now you know why that expensive pot of Vitamin E cream hasn’t worked!

Just one last warning

Vitamin E (like many other vitamin supplements) thins the blood. That is why it is advised to stop taking Vitamin E supplements before having an operation. In addition to this, allergic reactions to it can sometimes occur. The likelihood is greatest if the Vitamin E used on your skin is not pure, as is the case when it has been added to food. In general though, higher standards are applied to this vitamin in cosmetic products. Sadly, there have been instances in the past with people having allergic reactions to a product with Vitamin E, which turned out to be cheap poor quality vitamin which had been added to the product. The concentration should not be too low, but at the same time shouldn’t be too high, as this again will increase the risk of skin irritation. My Dr. Jetske Ultee Moisturizer and Suncare sun protection cream contain 1% Vitamin E. There are, of course, lots more products on the market containing this ingredient. Oil of Olaz total effects 7 in 1 anti-ageing day cream contains Tocopherol Acetate as well as Tocopherol. If you want to you can always write to the manufacturer of the product to ask what the concentrations used are, as they don’t show this on the product. If you have any more suggestions for products I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy Easter and especially the chocolate eggs! Now wouldn’t it be great if those contained Vitamin E…


Regards Jetske

Research Physician Cosmetic Dermatology
You can also read the following blogs:
‘Vitamin C’,
‘Different Types of Pigment’,
‘Don’t Give Scars a Chance’,
Ingredient Choice for Pigmentation Spots’,
‘Pots are for the Recycling Bin’ and
‘Anti-Oxidants in Cosmetic Products’.