Not All Vitamin E Oils Are Created Equal: Here's What You Need to Know
This just in: Vitamin E is officially the must-have nutrient for gorgeous glowing skin, and now we know why. Science shows that this antioxidant powerhouse plays an essential role in the healthy function of your organs, enzymatic activities, and neurological processes. Simply put, it’s non-negotiable for human health.
Getting enough vitamin E in the foods you eat is important, but applying it topically is even better. It can act as a literal shield for your complexion, protecting it from free radicals that damage your skin’s DNA, all while encouraging natural moisture and a smooth, silky texture.
Incorporating vitamin E oil into your beauty routine can be life changing—the catch is ensuring you’re using the right stuff in the best ways. Pure, unrefined vitamin E oil should have a unique, thick, and slightly sticky consistency, and come from a natural source.
Unfortunately, not all vitamin E oils on the market are high-quality or even naturally derived. In fact, many versions of vitamin E (and other vitamins) are artificially created in laboratories, contain questionable additives, and are often sourced from soy or other unidentifiable oils. It can be easy to think that they perform the same functions in the body whether natural or synthetic, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here’s exactly what you need to know in order to choose the purest, healthiest source of vitamin E and six wonderful ways to integrate this oil into your skincare routine.
Natural vs. Synthetic: What’s the difference?
The best natural form of vitamin E oil for the hair, skin, and nails comes in the form of a single ingredient extract from sunflowers called D-alpha-tocopheryl acetate. D-alpha-tocopheryl acetate is the most bioavailable form of vitamin E available, and its natural structure allows the body to absorb these nutrients more fully into the bloodstream and the cells of soft tissues.
As a bit of background, vitamin E actually refers to a delicate combination of eight different compounds that include the tocopherols of alpha, gamma, beta, and delta (tocopherols make up 96% of your skin’s natural antioxidant defense system), and tocotrienols of alpha, beta, delta, and gamma. All of these components best benefit the body when in their most primal form. But, it’s important not to confuse natural vitamin E with its synthetic counterparts.
Many labels and pharmacists promote synthetic (unnatural) forms of vitamin E as safe when evidence supports quite a different story. Synthetic vitamin E, often listed simply as “tocopheryl acetate,” is made from dangerous petrochemicals, and has been associated with increased sun sensitivity, irritations, cellular damage, and other serious health issues.
This is likely due to the fact that of the eight compounds contained in synthetic vitamin E, only one is actually usable in the body—the others are not even recognized by the liver, which does what it can to quickly expel them.
This synthetic vitamin has been recognized as a moderate hazard by the EWG, making it all the more important to make sure you’re getting the safest, most beneficial, and most natural version of vitamin E.
Simple, Amazing Ways to Use Your Vitamin E
Now that you know the importance of choosing natural, bioavailable vitamin E, you’ll be astonished at the variety of ways you can use it to elevate your beauty and wellness routine. Here are six of our favorites:
1. Deep Hydration
Most commercial moisturizers come with ingredient lists you can barely pronounce. Why trust your skin to so many unknown factors when vitamin E oil does the job better—and more safely?
Research shows that moisturizing with vitamin E oil significantly improves skin hydration as it naturally helps prevent water loss. This means you’ll finally be able to kiss dryness goodbye without worrying about the effects of harmful additives in your moisturizers.1
For chapped or overworked skin that needs a little TLC, apply it directly to your skin or add a small pump of this rich oil to any carrier oil, like coconut or Valentia Jojoba Oil. You’ll notice that it glides on smoothly and is quickly and efficiently absorbed (even more so than through oral ingestion!). So rather than dryness and dullness, now all anyone will see is your gorgeous, dewy skin, without any oily shine.2
One of our very favorite ways to use this pure, single-ingredient miracle is for healthy and ultra-hydrated lips. Honestly, it’s like our new natural chapstick and we are here for it!
2. Ageless Beauty
Daily exposure to elements such as the sun, stress, pollutants, chemicals, and car exhaust takes a heavy toll on the skin, which can leave you looking worn out before your time.
Thankfully, vitamin E oil acts as a powerful antioxidant to promote healthy cells—preserving the health and appearance of your skin. It’s also extraordinarily useful in warding off free radical damage and strengthening the skin barrier.7
If you love to spend time out in nature, this protection is especially important, since vitamin E oil can help maintain your youthful look by counteracting some of the negative effects of UV exposure.2 Apply a thin layer daily just before using a natural sunscreen (or even mix the two together) to protect your skin as you play in the rays.
And amazingly, even if you’ve forgotten to apply before playing out in the sun, it’s not too late for vitamin E oil to come to the rescue. Massage on its own or with a soothing carrier oil to maximize sunburn relief. Although it’s best to apply this oil immediately if you’d had unprotected sun exposure, it can still significantly hydrate and nurture post-sun skin—even after waiting eight hours!5
3. Clearer, More Balanced Skin
Vitamin E is the ultimate nutrient to even out the color of your skin tone and enhance the overall health of problem skin in particular. As you age, your skin has a tendency to produce excess melanin in later years, resulting in uneven skin tone and dark spots. Vitamin E oil is the perfect weapon to counter this effect, lightening and brightening these areas for a smooth, even complexion.6
When occasional breakouts and irritations make you want to crawl back under the covers, you don’t have to just wait things out or turn to harsh chemical treatments. Scientists are learning that free radical oxidation seems to play a role in these issues—and antioxidants like vitamin E oil are showing promise in helping to encourage clear, healthy skin.8
4. No More Bad Hair Days
If you’ve always dreamed your “crowning glory” could live up to its name, let vitamin E oil work its antioxidant magic to give you your most gorgeous hair ever. Topical vitamin E oil encourages luxuriant hair growth, while leaving both hair and scalp deliciously conditioned and hydrated.9
Mix a few drops into your favorite conditioner, massage into your hair and scalp, and rinse as usual. Or, for an intense leave-in treatment, mix a bit of vitamin E oil into some coconut oil, massage in thoroughly, wrap in a towel, and wait at least 30 minutes before washing it out. Make sure you’re using natural shampoos and conditioners whenever possible, as you never know what might be lurking in these hygiene products.
5. Lovely Nails and Cuticles
When using vitamin E oil to look your best, don’t forget about your hands! Massage a few drops of this antioxidant-rich oil into hands and nails at bedtime, and you’ll wake to soft hands and conditioned cuticles. Your nails will also be in for an extra special treat because vitamin E oil is so good at protecting them from harsh polishes and removers, while it strengthens, hydrates, and keeps natural nail color fresh and healthy looking.
6. Less Visible Stretch Marks and Scars
Whether it’s the joy of becoming a mom, fluctuations in weight, or a few unexpected hard knocks, when life inevitably leaves “story lines” behind, you can smooth them over by applying a small amount of vitamin E. Simply dab a bit of vitamin E on to your scars, stretch marks, or any other areas that have catalogued a healing event. Its antioxidant power supports skin health in a way that may make your warrior wounds less noticeable—so you get to make the final decision about sharing your personal life story.10,11
How to Find the Perfect Vitamin E for Your Skin
We’re big believers in the power of vitamin E for your skin and for your health, and it’s crucial to make sure you’re getting the real deal. Be sure to opt for an unrefined product that’s created in small batches from sustainably sourced pure sunflower seeds, like Valentia Vitamin E Oil.
Looking for an even more concentrated shot of plant-based nutrition that penetrates deep into your skin for the ultimate in hydration? Valentia Vitamin E Serum pairs sunflower-derived vitamin E with some of the most powerful hydrating botanicals on the planet—like organic jojoba and rosehip seed oils—to help diminish the appearance of wrinkles, sun damage, and discoloration for youthful, supple skin.
As always, when it comes to skincare, it’s best to make sure you’re choosing products that are natural, cruelty-free, biodegradable, and free of sulfates, artificial preservatives, parabens, and synthetic additives. Your body and your health are worth it, and we’ve got you covered.
So when you’re taking care of nutrition, be sure your skin, hair, and nails are getting their share of vitamins, too. You’ll be thrilled at how just a few drops of nourishing vitamin E oil reveals your most gorgeous self, and so you can truly get your glow on.
1. Burke, K. E. (2004). Photodamage of the skin: protection and reversal with topical antioxidants. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, 3(3), 149-155. doi:10.1111/j.1473-2130.2004.00067.x
2. Gehring W, Fluhr J, Gloor M. (1998). Influence of vitamin E acetate on stratum corneum hydration. Arzneimittelforschung, 48(7):772-5.
3. Korać, R., & Khambholja, K. (2011). Potential of herbs in skin protection from ultraviolet radiation. Pharmacognosy Reviews, 5(10), 164. doi:10.4103/0973-7847.91114
4. Trevithick, J. R., Xiong, H., Lee, S., Shum, D. T., Sanford, S., Karlik, S. J., … Dilworth, G. R. (1992). Topical tocopherol acetate reduces post-UVB, sunburn-associated erythema, edema, and skin sensitivity in hairless mice. Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, 296(2), 575-582. doi:10.1016/0003-9861(92)90613-2
5. Trevithick JR, Shum DT, Redae S, et al. (1993). Reduction of sunburn damage to skin by topical application of vitamin E acetate following exposure to ultraviolet B radiation: effect of delaying application or of reducing concentration of vitamin E acetate applied. Scanning Microscopy Journal, 7(4):1269-81.
6. Ebanks, J., Wickett, R., & Boissy, R. (2009). Mechanisms Regulating Skin Pigmentation: The Rise and Fall of Complexion Coloration. International Journal of Molecular Sciences, 10(12), 4066-4087. doi:10.3390/ijms10094066
7. Ekanayake-Mudiyanselage, S., Tavakkol, A., Polefka, T., Nabi, Z., Elsner, P., & Thiele, J. (2004). Vitamin E Delivery to Human Skin by a Rinse-Off Product: Penetration of α-Tocopherol versus Wash-Out Effects of Skin Surface Lipids. Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 18(1), 20-26. doi:10.1159/000081682
8. Mills OH, Criscito MC, Schlesinger TE, Verdicchio R, Szoke E. (2016). Addressing Free Radical Oxidation in Acne Vulgaris. J Clin Aesthetic Dermatology, 9(1):25-30.
9. Ahmed, N. S., Ghatak, S., El Masry, M. S., Gnyawali, S. C., Roy, S., Amer, M., … Khanna, S. (2017). Epidermal E-Cadherin Dependent β-Catenin Pathway Is Phytochemical Inducible and Accelerates Anagen Hair Cycling. Molecular Therapy, 25(11), 2502-2512. doi:10.1016/j.ymthe.2017.07.010
10. García Hernández, J. Á., Madera González, D., Padilla Castillo, M., & Figueras Falcón, T. (2013). Use of a specific anti-stretch mark cream for preventing or reducing the severity of striae gravidarum. Randomized, double-blind, controlled trial. International Journal of Cosmetic Science, 35(3), 233-237. doi:10.1111/ics.12029
11. Stanizzi, A., Bottoni, M., Tartaglione, C., Bolletta, E., & Benedetto, G. D. (2017). Associated use of silicone-vitamin E gauzes and α-tocopherol acetate oil in healing of skin graft donor sites. International Wound Journal, 14(5), 813-817. doi:10.1111/iwj.12707