Vitamin E is a Skin Superfood: Benefits, uses and products for healthier-looking, feel-good skin

Vitamin E has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that support wellness both inside and out. The more I dug in to learning how it acts in a health-protective way, the more I also realized Vitamin E is a skin superfood! Learn the benefits, uses as well as products to for healthier-looking, feel-good skin.

If you or someone you knows struggles with a dry, irritated or sensitive skin conditions, it is worth working with a medical professional to check your Vitamin E levels. Below you’ll see that research shows Vitamin E deficiency can cause such issues and adding Vitamin E (inside and out) can alleviate symptoms.

What is Vitamin E and how does our body use it? 

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin with eight isoforms. Its main role is to act as an antioxidant, seeking out “free radicals” that can damage cells and “rounding them up” with its “tail-shaped” molecule strands. Free radical damage is involved in the early stages of artery-clogging atherosclerosis. Research shows Vitamin E enhances immune function as well as prevents clots from forming in heart arteries. Vitamin E has the ability to protect cells from free radical damage as well as reduce the production of free radicals in certain situations, detailed below. [source]

And according to Oregon State Linus Pauling Institute: Naturally occurring Vitamin E includes eight fat-soluble isoforms, yet, the body preferentially uses α-tocopherol, and only α-tocopherol supplementation can reverse Vitamin E deficiency symptoms.

Vitamin E in whole food sources, what are the top foods?

Vitamin E is found in plant-based oils as a protective agent against oxidation. Therefore, it is found in fatty plant-based foods as well as the following:

  • Oils, such as sunflower, safflower, avocado, palm, and soybean oil
  • Nuts and seeds, such as sunflower seeds, almonds, peanuts, and butters of each
  • Greens, such as beet greens, collard greens, spinach
  • Pumpkin
  • Red bell pepper
  • Asparagus
  • Mango
  • Avocado

If looking to increase Tocotrienol specifically, the following are high in that form of Vitamin E:

  • Palm (the bright orange oil is colored from Vitamin E)
  • Annatto (another bright reddish color)
  • Rice, of which pigmented rices have the highest concentration (such as Black and Red) [source]

Benefits of Vitamin E for the human body:

Reduce markers of oxidative stress and improve antioxidant defenses

A 2021 study also showed that supplementing with a combination of Vitamin E and Vitamin C daily for 8 weeks reduced markers of oxidative stress, such as malondialdehyde and ROS, in women with endometriosis. [source]

May also improve bone health and have protective anti-aging effect

Research in middle-aged and elderly humans suggests that tocotrienols have a potential beneficial anti-ageing action with respect to cognitive impairment and DNA damage. Tocotrienol supplementation helps reduce bone loss in postmenopausal osteopenic women by suppressing inflammation and oxidative stress.

Support cardiovascular health and may reduce heart disease risk factors

Studies show reduced systolic blood pressure and when combined, omega-3 and Vitamin E co-supplementation significantly reduced the serum concentrations of TG and LDL and increased “good” cholesterol to reduce risk of heart disease. And Vitamin E quinone has anti clotting benefits, as a potent inhibitor of the vitamin K-dependent carboxylase that controls blood clotting.

May also improve liver health and benefit those with liver disease (NAFLD)

Meta Analysis showed that Vitamin E reduced the values of liver enzymes compared with placebo vitamin E improved statistically significantly liver pathology in every individual histological parameter as well as low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, fasting blood glucose, and serum leptin values.

Further a 2022 study was recently published showing that when comparing tocotrienol to tocopherol in those with NAFLD, better results were seen in those taking tocotrienol supplementation. δ-tocotrienol and α-tocopherol exerted equally beneficial effects in terms of improvement in hepatic steatosis, oxidative stress, and insulin resistance in patients with NAFLD. However, δ-tocotrienol was more potent than α-tocopherol in reducing body weight, inflammation, and apoptosis associated with NAFLD [source

May reduce menstrual pain

In a 2018 study in 100 women with dysmenorrhea, taking 200 IU of vitamin E daily relieved menstrual pain more than a placebo. The effects were even better when the vitamin was combined with an omega-3 supplement containing 180 mg of EPA and 120 mg of DHA [source]

May benefit cognitive health

Maintaining optimal Vitamin E levels and taking supplements may help protect against cognitive decline. But it’s still unclear whether the supplements benefit people with cognitive conditions like Alzheimer’s disease:

Vitamin E has been proposed as a potential clinical intervention for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) given the plausibility of its various biological functions in influencing the neurodegenerative processes associated with the condition. The tocopherol and tocotrienol isoforms of vitamin E have multiple properties including potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory characteristics, in addition to influences on immune function, cellular signaling and lowering cholesterol. Reduced plasma levels have furthermore been associated with an increased risk of AD development while intake, particularly from dietary sources, may limit or reduce the rate of disease progression. Several factors influence individual responsiveness to vitamin E intake and recent findings suggest variation in the underlying genetic architecture attenuates vitamin E biological availability and activity which likely contributes to the variation in clinical responsiveness and the failure of randomized trials to date. [2019, source]

May benefit older adults

Because Vitamin E plays important roles in health, such as reducing inflammation and improving immune function, supplements may benefit people who have increased needs or don’t get enough in their diets, such as some older adults.

May benefit skin health

Vitamin E supplements may be helpful for those with certain skin disorders, such as dermatitis and eczema. Naturally found in Avocado, Olive, Sweet Almond, and Sunflower Oils – so all of those ingredients as well as tocopherol or tocopheryl acetate. [source

I’ve included a full list below of all the products I recommend containing Vitamin E. Specifically of interest to me was the Countersun and Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm, which my child with Eczema loved and swore by when he was younger. I have known for years that there was something special about these two products because my children, specifically, would note the difference they felt in using them vs. others. And finally I understand why!

The Cleansing Balm is made with Mango Seed Butter, which is one of the top Vitamin E rich foods. This is a reason why a skin nourishing product with skin superfood ingredients is a better option than just a singular oil or fat, like coconut or petroleum jelly which are often recommended but do not have the benefits of multi-nutrient-rich protection in a curated skincare product.

Topical Vitamin E products from Beautycounter (that I recommend)

As per Dr. Barrie’s recommendation, these products use whole sources of Vitamin E. Science shows that Tocopherol or Tocopheryl Acetate as independent ingredients do not maintain the same health-protective benefits as ingredients which naturally contain Vitamin E.

Skincare & Makeup with 5 or more forms

All Bright Brightening Facial Oil – Rosa Canina Seed Oil and Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil and Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil and Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil and Sclerocarya Birrea Seed Oil and Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil and Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil and Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil and Citrullus Lanatus (Watermelon) Seed Oil and Rosa Damascena Flower Oil and Hippophae Rhamnoides Fruit Oil and Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil and Tocopherol 14 forms!

Lotus Glow Cleansing Balm – Avocado Oil (Persea Gratissima) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter and Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil and Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil  8 forms

Lip Conditioner in Peppermint and Calendula – Avocado Oil (Persea Gratissima) and Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil and Olus/Vegetable Oil/Huile végétale and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil and Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil and Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil and Lanolin and Tocopherol (Vitamin E) and Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Flower Oil and Calendula Officinalis (Calendula) Flower Oil and Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil and Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil 13 forms

Brilliant Brow Gel – Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Coconut Alkanes and Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil and Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil and Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil and Coco-Caprylate/Caprate and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice* and Tocopherol and Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil 11 forms

Countertime

  • Lipid Defense Cleansing Oil – Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Sesamum Indicum (Sesame) Seed Oil and Tocopherol and Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil and Rosa Damascena Flower Oil and Cymbopogon Martini Oil and Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil and Juniperus Mexicana Oil and Cymbopogon Citratus Leaf Oil and Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil and Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil and Fusanus Spicatus Wood Oil 13 forms
  • Mineral Boost Hydrating EssenceCitrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil and Cymbopogon Martini Oil and Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil and Juniperus Mexicana Oil and Cymbopogon Citratus Leaf Oil and Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil and Rosa Damascena Flower Oil and Fusanus Spicatus Wood Oil 8 forms
  • Tripeptide Radiance Serum – Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Squalane (from rice bran and olive) 2 forms 
  • Antioxidant Soft Cream – Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Coconut Alkanes and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Tocopherol 5 forms
  • Tetrapeptide Supreme Cream – Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter and Coconut Alkanes and Tocopherol 4 forms

Countermatch

  • Adaptive Moisture Lotion –  Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride and Squalane and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder and Palmitic Acid and Olus Oil (Vegetable Oil)/Huile végétale and Tocopherol and Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil 8 forms
  • Intense Moisture Serum – Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Prunus Domestica Seed Extract and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice and Tocopherol  5 forms
  • Eye Rescue Cream – Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Palm(itic) Acid and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) – 4 forms
  • Hydra-Gel Radiance Toner – Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil and Tocopherol 4 forms
  • Refresh Foaming Cleanser – Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Palm(itic) Acid and Prunus Domestica Seed Extract 3 forms
  • Adaptive Body Moisturizer – Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Palm(itic) Acid and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) 3 forms
    ** note:
    I did not include the night cream, which I don’t recommend

Counterstart

  • Cococream Cleanser – Glyceryl Stearate (from plant oils) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Palm(itic) Acid and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil), Tocopherol 5 forms
  • Cocoboost Moisturizer – Glyceryl Stearate (from plant oils) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder and Tocopherol 6 forms
    ** note:
    I only recommend this line for people with young or “normal” skin without any issues such as sensitivity, blemishes, or aging – the coconut can become occlusive so exfoliation (with a microfiber cloth, the Peel or masks) is necessary

Countercontrol

  • All Over Acne Treatment – Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder and Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil and Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil 5 forms
  • Countercontrol Clear Pore Cleanser – Jojoba Esters and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil and Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil and Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil 5 forms
  • Countercontrol SOS Acne Spot Treatment – Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder and Epilobium Angustifolium Flower/Leaf/Stem Extract 2 forms
    ** note:
    I only recommend these items from the Countercontrol line

Body Products

Melting Body BalmSimmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil and Avocado Oil (Persea Gratissima) and Squalane (from rice bran and olive) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil and Argania Spinosa Kernel Oil and Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil and Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil and Cananga Odorata Flower Oil and Tocopherol 11 forms!  

Body Butter in Citrus Mimosa  – Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice Powder and Schinziophyton Rautanenii (Mongongo) Kernel Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil 6 forms

Sugarbuff Body Polish in Lemongrass – Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) and Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Oil and Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil and Oenothera Biennis (Evening Primrose) Oil and Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil and Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil and Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil and Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil and Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil 11 forms

Body Wash in Citrus Mimosa – Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil and Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Peel Oil and Citrus Limon (Lemon) Peel Oil 4 forms

The Clean Deo – Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil and Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter and Jojoba Esters and Tocopherol and Hydrogenated Castor Oil 5 forms

Hand Savior Radiance Boosting Serum + Hand Sanitizer – Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil and Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes and Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil and Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil and Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil 7 forms

Countersun

All have multiple forms: Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Coco-Caprylate

Others with 1-4 forms

Overnight Resurfacing Peel – Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) and Rubus Idaeus (Raspberry) Seed Oil  2 forms

All Bright C Serum – Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) and Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil and Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Flower Oil 3 forms

Dew Skin Tinted Moisturizer – Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Black Currant Seed Oil and Peony Root Extract 4 forms

Skin Twin Featherweight Foundation – Sweet Almond Oil (Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis) and Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride (Palm/Coconut Oil) and Coco-Caprylate and Jojoba Esters and Tocopherol 4 forms

Think Big All-in-One Mascara – Glyceryl Stearate (from plant oils) and Palm(itic) Acid and Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Wax 3 forms

Eye Makeup Remover – Helianthus Annuus (sunflower seed oil) and Coco-Caprylate/Caprat and Macadamia Ternifolia Seed Oil and Tocopherol 4 forms

Find more with the Beautycounter Ingredient Glossary 

Other brand items with Vitamin E I love

Herbivore’s Lapis Blue Tansy Facial Oil – Squalane, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Aleurites Moluccanus Seed Oil, Tocopherol, Tanacetum Annuum Flower Oil 6 forms

Herbivore’s Rose Hibiscus Coconut Water Hydrating Face MistAloe Barbadensis Leaf Water, Rosa Damascena Flower Water,  Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Powder 3 forms

Odacité Acne Treatment SerumNigella Sativa [Black Cumin*] Oil, Melaleuca Minor [Cajeput**] Leaf/Twig Oil, Tocopherols [Vitamin E] Oil 3 forms

Herbivore Botanicals Coco Rose Exfoliating Body Scrub – Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Cetearyl Olivate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil, Sorbitan Olivate 6 forms

Learn more on The Whole View Vitamin E podcasts:

Episode 33 of Season 3: Benefits of Vitamin E with Dr. Barrie Tan, Part 1, and Benefits of Vitamin E continued with Dr. Barrie Tan, Part 2

References:

 

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Note: Stacy is not a medical professional. This article is for general educational purposes and NOT intended to diagnose, advise, or treat any physical or mental illness. We always recommend you consult a licensed service provider.

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