If you look at the skincare products you currently own, don’t be surprised if you find vitamin E in many, if not the majority, of them. That’s because vitamin E is a common ingredient in both natural and store-bought cosmetics, as it acts as a natural stabilizer and can prolong the shelf life of beauty products. But while it can make your skincare favorites last longer, the question is: Is it actually beneficial?
Separating Vitamin E Fact from Fiction
Vitamin E has been used in dermatology for over 50 years, and research has shown its benefit for a number of common skin concerns including eczema, burns, scars and wounds. In fact, many people love using vitamin E topically for reducing the appearance of scars, fading age spots, decreasing the appearance of wrinkles, and even moisturizing dry cuticles. With vitamin E’s known ability to fight off free radicals, it makes sense that topical vitamin E can give skin a healthy boost. Unfortunately, research has not backed up all of these topical uses. When it comes to scarring, anecdotal reports may say that vitamin E is really helpful, but research has not been able to fully support this claim. In addition, it is possible to have a negative reaction to the topical application of vitamin E.
When it comes to the internal application of vitamin, we know that it is a fat-soluble vitamin that is also considered to be an antioxidant, which means it can help to prevent cellular damage to the body caused by free radicals. Vitamin E also helps our bodies to make red blood cells and use vitamin K. Research has shown that for both people with cancer as well as people without, the amount of vitamin E and other antioxidants circulating in their blood tend to be inversely related to levels of C-reactive protein, an inflammatory marker. In other words, it appears that the more antioxidants we have in our systems the less overall inflammation. In addition, research has shown that internal intake of vitamin E and vitamin C can help to protect the skin from sun damage.
How to Use Vitamin E to Improve Your Skin Care Routine
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If you want to try using vitamin E topically, it’s best to do so at night because it’s pretty thick and greasy, and it’s best to watch it overnight to see if you react, as opposed to using it in the morning before work. All it takes is a couple of drops of vitamin E oil gently massaged into the area of concern, and you may even see some improvement by morning. For anyone with sensitive or acne-prone skin, it’s important to note that vitamin E may not be your best choice, especially for your face, as it can be too heavy and pore-clogging. Looking for a neutral area to topically test vitamin E? Try dry cuticles.
When taking vitamin E internally, you want to look for natural vitamin E (d-alpha-tocopherol) or natural mixed tocopherols, rather than the synthetic version called dl-alpha-tocopherol. Dosing varies by health concern. For example, one randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial of 70 people with mild to moderate atopic eczema showed overall improvement of symptoms and quality of life with no negative side effects when taking a dose of 400 IU of vitamin E by mouth daily for four months.
It’s also important to note that general health, as well as the health of our skin, definitely starts on the inside, so using healthy, natural ingredients both internally and externally is a way to approach beauty from both angles. Here are some of my favorite natural remedies that work well, both internally and externally:
Apple Cider Vinegar
Internally, apple cider vinegar can promote balanced blood sugar and improve digestion, while, externally, it can help to restore an optimal pH balance for your skin. Using apple cider vinegar in salad dressings is a great easy way to incorporate this probiotic-, mineral- and enzyme-rich liquid into your diet on a regular basis. When it comes to the skin, a homemade apple cider vinegar toner can really cleanse and brighten the complexion, just make sure you’re using raw, unpasteurized apple cider vinegar that still contains the mother.
It’s not hard to get vitamin C in your diet from foods like guava, kiwi, red peppers, broccoli and so many other delicious fruits and veggies. And increasing your internal intake of vitamin C is an excellent way to help boost collagen production in the skin and promote a more youthful appearance overall. Externally, vitamin C is another potent antioxidant that can help prevent skin cellular damage—especially from the sun—and it is commonly used to treat hyperpigmentation.
Turmeric is an amazing root known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and pain-relieving abilities, and there is scientific evidence to support turmeric’s use both internally and externally for therapeutic benefits to the skin. More specifically, turmeric is likely beneficial to common inflammatory skin problems like acne as well as premature aging. Turmeric can be purchased as a spice and added to soups, stews and more. Topically, you can find it being added more frequently to face washes and other natural skincare products.
Cinnamon is a well-known spice with perhaps some lesser known medicinal and beauty abilities. Studies (in-vitro and in-vivo) have shown that cinnamon (specifically Ceylon cinnamon) can help to lower blood sugar, blood pressure and cholesterol. Topically, including cinnamon in homemade face masks is a great way to provide your skin with a natural boost of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits, making it an especially great choice for fighting off breakouts.
If you’re looking to optimize the health of your skin, vitamin E is not a bad place to start, but consuming a diet of healthy whole nutrient-dense foods is definitely priority number one. You’ll also want to make sure you are exercising and avoiding cortisol-increasing stress, which can promote aging, breakouts and other skin complaints.
Using antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C topically has been shown to provide skin benefits, especially when used for specific health concerns. In general, I recommend incorporating high quality topical vitamins into your daily skin regimen when it’s warranted for specific skin concerns.
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