Vitamin E is an antioxidant that can help fight free radicals, which are molecules that damage the DNA in cells. People can usually get adequate vitamin E from their diet, but it is also available in the form of supplements and skin care products.

Some companies add vitamin E to skin care products, such as oils and moisturizers. However, many claims about the benefits of applying vitamin E topically lack evidence.

Keep reading to learn about the benefits of vitamin E for the skin and its possible risks.

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Vitamin E is a nutrient that the body cannot make on its own. It comes from certain foods, such as nuts and seeds, and supplements.

Vitamin E is an antioxidant, which means that it can stop or reverse the damage that free radicals cause to cells. It can also reduce inflammation around the body.

The body stores vitamin E in the skin, in both the outer epidermis and the deeper dermis layers. This is one reason why many skin care products contain vitamin E.

The nutrient lives in sebaceous glands, which form the base of hair follicles. The body transports vitamin E to the skin through sebum, an oily substance that protects and lubricates the skin.

Vitamin E actually refers to two groups of eight vitamins. The two types of vitamin E are:


These are the most abundant type of vitamin E in the human body. There are four subtypes of tocopherols: alpha, beta, delta, and gamma.


These are present in lower quantities throughout the body. Tocotrienols also have alpha, beta, delta, and gamma subtypes.

Many products contain vitamin E, including:

  • Dietary: Some vegetables, fruits, and oily foods contain vitamin E, such as corn oil, almonds, spinach, and tomatoes.
  • Oral supplements: Several over-the-counter oral vitamin E supplements are available as capsules. It is important to check the product’s vitamin E content and dosage instructions before taking it.
  • Topical vitamin E: These are products that someone can apply to their skin, such as moisturizers.

Some potential skin benefits of vitamin E include:


Researchers have found that products containing vitamin E can moisturize the skin. However, they have not identified links between vitamin E intake and skin hydration.

Therefore, people who wish to use vitamin E as a moisturizer should stick with topical products that contain the vitamin.

Fighting UV-related skin damage

Oregan State University highlights several studies suggesting that vitamin E could fight skin damage from sun exposure. However, most of the research to date has involved animals or human skin cells in a lab setting.

It is possible that adding vitamin E to sunscreen provides some additional skin benefits, but it is important to note that vitamin E itself is not an effective sunscreen.

Wound healing

The author of a review article in the International Wound Journal suggests that vitamin E can promote wound healing.

The theory is that because vitamin E deficiencies can slow wound healing, a good amount of this nutrient could have the opposite effect. However, the review highlighted the lack of high quality research to support this idea.

Anti-inflammatory properties

Inflammation is the body’s reaction to an injury or infection. It can cause pain, discoloration, and swelling. Many common skin conditions cause inflammation, including acne.

A 2020 study in Scientific Reports reviewed 26 clinical trials and found some evidence that vitamin E supplements reduce inflammation in adults. More high quality research is necessary to verify this finding, though.

Some people use vitamin E with lemon juice or other ingredients to bleach the skin. There is no evidence that this works, and these products can cause side effects that include:

  • damage to the skin
  • increased sensitivity to the sun
  • uneven skin tone

Many homemade skin lightening treatments that people can find online have no scientific evidence to support their use and may cause irreversible effects.

Although vitamin E has a long history of use for healing scars, most research does not support this use.

A 2016 review of six studies concluded that there was insufficient evidence to recommend vitamin E for scar treatment. Three of the studies showed some reduction in the appearance of scars with topical use of vitamin E, while the other three showed no improvement.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association advises that keeping a wound moist could prevent the formation of scars. It recommends using petroleum jelly for this.

From the age of 14 years, people require 15 milligrams (mg) of vitamin E per day, although those who are breastfeeding or chestfeeding need about 19 mg. There is no evidence that additional vitamin E offers any benefits. Additionally, taking high doses can be harmful.

A person should always consult a doctor before taking any new supplement.

The best approach to using vitamin E products for the skin involves these steps:

  • talking with a doctor about any skin problems before trying vitamin E
  • following the instructions on the package and sticking to the recommended daily dose
  • considering experimenting with different forms of vitamin E to determine which one provides the best results
  • stopping the use of vitamin E if there are any side effects, such as skin sensitivity or an allergic reaction
  • wearing sunscreen when using vitamin E or any other skin care products

Some forms of vitamin E can cause skin irritation or allergic reactions, particularly those with ester conjugates. People should apply the product to a small area of the skin to test for sensitivity before using it more widely.

Vitamin E helps keep the skin healthy. People can often get enough vitamin E from food, but they can also get it in the form of supplements and skin care products.

However, people should bear in mind that many claims about the benefits of applying vitamin E topically still lack evidence. Additionally, taking too much vitamin E orally can be dangerous.