Vitamin E (Tocopherol) has been a hotly discussed topic in skincare for some times, but scientific proof leaves no room for discussion and it has been unquestionably proven to assist the skin in various ways.
on this page
When looking at a label of any skincare cosmetic, you will not find the word "vitamin E" on such a label, as international cosmetic labeling prohibits the use of the word "vitamin" on the label, and the vitamin E will most likely be listed as tocopherol. Some people still have very nebulous ideas of what vitamin E can achieve in skin care products, but scientific studies show us that it has very specific benefits to the skin: It protects the skin from environmental pollution.
It has a protecting action against UV radiation – although it cannot be classed as a sunscreen. It is an excellent moisturizer It contains powerful anti-inflammatory action – and this prevents premature aging, as inflammatory conditions in the skin is a leading cause of skin aging. It has excellent wound healing properties.
Vitamin E has a natural affinity to the skin but the amount of vitamin E is reduced in the skin when exposed to sunlight.
Environmental pollutants, as well as oxidative material in the body, cause the formation of “free radicals” which are unpaired oxygen molecules, which wreaks havoc on the cells, and cause extensive damage, which directly results in premature aging.
Vitamin E is a very effective antioxidant, chemically mediated by the phenolic OH group of the chromane ring, and helps to remove the formed "free radicals" and thereby ensures that oxidative damage does not occur, by disrupting the chain reaction caused by the free radicals.
UV radiation from the sun may be great for getting a tan, and for the body to make its own vitamin D, yet exposure to the rays also cause an array of negative reactions in the skin.
The first and most well known in the short term is sunburn (erythema) which leads to degenerative changes within the cell, causing age spots and leading to the loss of elasticity, which in turn will result in dry coarser skin, as well as wrinkles and lines.
Another factor that must be considered with UV radiation from the sun is that it causes the skin to become photosensitive and also cause cancerous growth – starting with actinic keratosis or solar keratosis and then developing further to basal cell and squamous cell cancer, as well as malignant melanoma.
When vitamin E is applied to the skin, a reduction of erythema, sunburn cells, chronic UV-B–induced skin damage, and photo-carcinogenesis is experienced, but yet we must stress that it does not have a sunscreen action.
Vitamin E has also proven effective in reducing the amount of skin tumor formation but it must be stressed that the prevention of sun damage is still paramount.
While there is no absolute protection from the sun, cosmetics and moisturizers containing antioxidants, such as Vitamin E, Vitamin C and Beta-Carotene, can counteract damage to cell membranes, DNA, and skin proteins due to oxidation caused by sunlight. These materials don’t work like sunscreens, but they help minimize the damaging reactions in the skin, especially when used in conjunction with sunscreens. When vitamin E is combined with vitamin C, and applied to the skin, it helps to reduce the formation of sunburn cells and offers good photo-protection.
Other studies have also shown that vitamin E protects the fibroblast in the skin – these are the cells that make collagen, glycosaminoglycans, as well as the elastic fibers and glycoproteins found in the extracellular matrix of the skin.
It is also important to remember that when exposing the skin to the sun – the resultant burn or tan is an inflammatory reaction of the skin, and in the quest for achieving a youthful looking skin, it is of prime importance to prevent and to reduce any inflammatory conditions.
The topical application of vitamin E has also proven to be effective in reducing sun-induced skin wrinkling and has excellent skin moisturizing properties, also helping to prevent transepidermal water-loss by the skin, thereby increasing the natural moisture content of the skin.
Preventing premature skin aging, excessive cross-linking and DNA degeneration Another factor that plays a major part in skin aging is cross-linking of protein that occurs in the skin – which is even more prevalent when the skin is subjected to UV radiation. In this case, vitamin E has also proven to be effective in preventing excessive cross-linking and resultant aging, as well as protecting the natural enzymes in the skin.
As we age the degeneration of DNA – which carries the blueprint of our cells, can occur, and such damage to the DNA can also result not only in skin problems, but also in premature aging. It has been shown that topical application of vitamin E also prevents the degeneration of DNA, especially when compromised by photo-damage.
It is one of the best fat (lipid) based antioxidants around and although a bit expensive, well worth the money, when included in cosmetic products to make the sterling properties of this ingredient available to the skin in topical form.
Oxidative stress causes free radicals, and if they are not neutralized, they cause deterioration of the cells, and resultant ageing. Vitamin E protects the cells and cell membranes from this oxidative stress. This oxidative stress is also caused by normal cell metabolism, but is exasperated by a variety of environmental factors, including UV radiation, pollution, tanning, smoke, heavy-metals in the environment etc.
Vitamin E is normally found in the skin, but exposure to sunlight has been shown to deplete this extremely important antioxidant and topical application of it boosts the availability of it.
To have adequate tocopherol is even more important in mature skin, as the levels of it seems to decrease with age, when it is needed even more to fight the ravages of free radicals and in so doing, help in the battle against ageing.
Apart from the antioxidant properties, it also helps to moisturize the skin and even more importantly helps with tissue repair, thereby keeping the skin in good condition.
In tests done it was found that a solution containing 5% of Vitamin E acetate decreased the healing time required, and also that vitamin E increases the breaking strength of wounds.
Vitamin E is required for healthy collagen in the skin – which is the support system in the skin and helps the skin to remain firm and healthy.
Tocopheryl acetate is the ester of Tocopherol (q.v.) and acetic acid and is classified as both an ester and heterocyclic compound. It is used as an antioxidant and a miscellaneous skin-conditioning agent and is known by its more common name, vitamin E - although international cosmetic labeling regulations prohibit the word "vitamin" on the label of cosmetic products.