Upon a preliminary scan of any skin-care ingredient list, vitamin E (also known as alpha-tocopherol) may very well go undetected. But once you’re armed with a little extra information, you’ll realize just how widespread and beloved this soothing ingredient is. “Vitamin E is the name given to [a] family of oil-soluble antioxidants,” cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson previously explained. Out of the eight types of vitamin E, she noted that “tocopheryl acetate and tocopherol are most commonly found in skin-care products.”
While vitamin E may be most well-known for its moisturizing properties, it’s foremost an antioxidant that guards and strengthens a weakened skin barrier, which seals essential water and electrolytes in and protects the skin against dehydration and external stressors. Vitamin E also plays an important role in relieving conditions like flakiness, peeling, roughness, and itchiness, and also lends a helping hand in improving the appearance of acne scars.
You’ll often find vitamin E paired with another skin-loving nutrient, vitamin C. The reason for that is because vitamin E “works synergistically with vitamin C to provide UVB protection,” David Kim, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, explains. While vitamin E alone can provide some level of protection against damage caused by free radicals, it’s much more effective when combined with vitamin C, and a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology further proves this point.
Because vitamin E is fat-soluble, Dr. Kim says that it’s “readily absorbable in our skin, which is great for people with dry skin.” However, he says that those with oily or acne-prone skin should be cautious around vitamin E, as it can potentially exacerbate breakouts. (No thanks.)
Naturally occurring vitamin E can be found in other moisturizing powerhouses like argan, sunflower, almond, safflower, rice bran, and grapeseed oils, which means you probably have plentiful vitamin E already baked into your skin-care routine. But if that’s not the case, worry not, because we rounded up the best vitamin E products below, as recommended by Allure editors and board-certified dermatologists.
Ready to feel more confident when reading your beauty products’ ingredient labels? Enter, the Allure Ingredient Index. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll find everything you need to know about the most in-demand (and under-the-radar) ingredients in your favorite skin-care products.