Vitamin E: Your Skincare Magic

What is Vitamin E?

On the surface, vitamin E seems like a simple ingredient. It’s a fat soluble compound, which means it dissolves in fat and oil and is stored in the cell membranes of our bodies. Plant oils, leafy green vegetables, nuts and seeds are great sources of vitamin E, and bears a great deal of research proving its antioxidant and UV photoprotective effects in skincare. But once you start digging a little deeper, you’ll find that vitamin E is quite complex. For starters, vitamin E consists of eight different molecules with similar structures, and is broken down into two classes: tocopherols (α, β,  ɣ, and δ) which are saturated forms of vitamin E and tocotrienols (α, β, ɣ, and δ) which are unsaturated. Each one of these eight forms has unique functions, while all being potent antioxidants.

For example, alpha (α) tocopherol is the most predominant form of vitamin E in human skin, fights free radicals and offers the skin protection against harmful UV rays. Gamma (ɣ) tocopherol is also an antioxidant, but provides more anti-inflammatory properties than the alpha-tocopherol form as it has been shown to inhibit the formation of cytokines which are pro-inflammatory biochemicals. 

Beta (β) tocopherol is an antioxidant as well, and research shows that it may increase the antioxidant effects of α-tocopherol. Delta (δ) tocopherol is the only bioavailable form of vitamin E as it enters the bloodstream, and along with gamma-tocopherol has cancer preventative activity that alpha-tocopherol alone does not. 

Since tocopherols were discovered prior to tocotrienols, tocotrienols are not as well studied, but that is changing since they play an important role in skin health. Tocotrienols are more effective antioxidants than tocopherols while also possessing anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer effects. As mentioned above, tocotrienols are not saturated which allows them to better distribute in the lipid layers of cell membranes, protect their integrity, and provide increased antioxidant potency. 

Vitamin E in Skincare

After learning the basic differences of the types of vitamin E, it seemed like a good idea to talk to skincare formulators for their thoughts on what seems to be an incredibly efficacious ingredient in skincare. Toni Ann Barandon, the creator of Naturallogic, is a firm believer in the power of vitamin E and refers to it as a foundational antioxidant since it repairs, protects, and nourishes the skin. She only utilizes broad spectrum tocopherols in her line, so as to reap the benefits and synergy of the alpha, beta, gamma and delta forms. Sunflower derived vitamin E is her go to, as she prefers its sustainability and high quality as opposed to soy which is commonly genetically engineered.

Barandon also knows that many of her customers prefer to avoid ingredients derived from soy because of allergies and the desire to decrease possible phytoestrogen and/or GMO exposure. She also loves using whole sunflower oil in her products because it offers the full spectrum of tocopherols and has a long shelf life due to its high vitamin E content. Earthwise Beauty‘s creator, Ava Zhan, is also a proponent of sunflower derived vitamin E as she has found that her variety, which is unbleached, undeodorized, and non-GMO certified to be noncomedogenic, even in high percentages. 

Other plant oils that are high in vitamin E include avocado, sweet almond, prickly pear seed, argan, pumpkin seed, sesame, jojoba, olive and coconut oils. Cranberry seed oil, another vitamin E rich oil, is the one that creator of Live Botanical, Carolyn McRory, considers her favorite of the lot. She loves utilizing cranberry seed oil because it’s so rich with vitamin E, contains all of its eight forms, and she is able to source it regionally. According to McRory, vitamin E is such a powerful antioxidant that when it’s added to oils, or when it’s already present in an oil in high amounts, it decreases the chance of rancidity and as a result, increases their shelf life.

To clarify, McRory states that vitamin E should not be confused with other preservatives that prevent microbes and fungus from growing in skincare products which are needed whenever water is present in a formula. Nevertheless, if vitamin E is added to an oil blend or a water-based cream, it provides protection and nourishment to the skin while also stabilizing the oils present in the product, a double benefit. It’s important to keep in mind that the stability of a product is multi-faceted, which includes a product’s ability to handle stressors like heat, fluctuations of temperature, exposure to light, and antimicrobial activity. Consequently, vitamin E’s ability to protect oils from going rancid is only one aspect of a product’s stability. 

Natural v. Synthetic

It’s important to keep in mind that reading an ingredient list will not always inform you if the vitamin E in your skincare is natural or synthetic, or from what plant it is derived if it is natural (soy or sunflower for example). It’s also interesting to note that natural sources of vitamin E have provided the most consistent data concerning its superior topical efficacy while synthetic Vitamin E derivatives have limited cellular metabolism in the skin thereby reducing its skincare effects. 

Therefore, if you want the full skincare benefits of vitamin E, trusting a brand’s claims of using only natural ingredients, or asking the brand if they use naturally sourced vitamin E may be valuable information. Some formulators and brands explicitly state the type of vitamin E used, such as Branadon whose labels read “Mixed Tocopherols (Full Spectrum Non-GMO Vitamin E)”. As customers become more savvy to these distinctions and request this information, hopefully more brands will provide such ingredient list details.

What’s Old is New Again

Vitamin E might not be the “new thing” in skincare right now, but it deserves as much attention as the current ingredient du jour. It has loads of research to back up its reputation for being a highly effective antioxidant, with other benefits like being anti-inflammatory, nurturing, and moisturizing. It’s not always necessary to go chasing after the not-yet-discovered holy grail ingredient, because as Branadon so eloquently said, “the magic is closer than you think it is.”

 

Products high in Vitamin E:

Live Botanical First Light Brightening Oil Serum and Balancing Whipped Oil

Laurel Skin Antioxidant Serum and Unburden Serum

Earthwise Beauty Resiliency Face Serum, Yasuni Balm, and Nap in the Meadow Face Serum

Naturallogic PHYTO NECTAR Radiance Boosting Facial Oil 

Mun Aknari Brightening Youth Serum

 

References:

Michels, Alexander J. “Vitamin E and Skin Health.” Linus Pauling Institute. January 2, 2019. https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/vitamin-E

Ashan, Haseeb; Ahad, Amjid; Iqbal, Jahangir; Siddiqui, Wassem A. “Pharmacological potential of tocotrienols: a review.” Nutrition & Metabolism. November 12, 2014. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4247006/

Chiarello-Ebner, Kaylynn. “Goal: Healthy, Hydrated, Youthful Skin.” Whole Foods Magazine. June 14, 2016. https://wholefoodsmagazine.com/haba/features-haba/goal-healthy-hydrated-youthful-skin/

“Stability testing of cosmetics.” Making Cosmetics Inc. https://www.makingcosmetics.com/Stability-Testing-of-Cosmetics_ep_59.html

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links. 

Dilettante by Hiram Green

I received my sample of Dilettante this past June (which tells you how behind I am in my blog reviews) and indeed this was supposed to be a summertime post. The three listed notes of orange flower, petitgrain, and essential oil of orange suggest that this fruity floral perfume would sit perfectly in the pocket of a warm summer night, but this Dilettante has more to offer.

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Los Feliz Botanicals Reviewed.

Los Feliz is a neighborhood in Los Angeles, not too far from where I went to college, so when the PR gal from Los Feliz Botanicals contacted me, my interest was instantly piqued. When I learned that Krystal Quinn Castro, the creator of LFB, studied with Mandy Aftel, my interest was piqued even more and I knew this was a line I needed to explore.

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Celebrating Seven Years and a Beauty Box Giveaway

I posted my first Scent Hive review seven years ago, and am so thrilled to be back sharing my favorite all natural perfumes and green beauty finds with you all.  As some of you know, I took a very extended break from blogging, and wasn’t sure if I would return. The time away from writing was much needed, as I have come back to Scent Hive with a renewed sense of delight and wonder, as well as an even stronger commitment to using all natural products for myself, my family and in my home. I still stand by what I say on my About page as I will never be a total purist and I believe firmly in balance rather than extremes. Having said that, I will always dig deep into ingredient lists, make conscious choices regarding my purchases, and inform you as to what I have learned and what I am loving.

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Strange Invisible Perfumes Zodiac Collection

SIP 3

Alexandra Balohoutis, the nose behind Strange Invisible Perfumes, has relaunched her Perfumes of the Zodiac collection. First off, I want to say how much I love the new bottle. It embodies simple elegance, and feels substantial and weighty in the hand. I don’t think I would want to risk this gem bouncing around in my tote bag, but it is a suitable size (15ml) for travel if handled with care.

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Bath and Body by Providence Perfume Co.

Apricot Blossoms

Providence Perfume Company has branched out into the realm of bath and body products which came as a very pleasant surprise to me. I knew nothing of this development until a box filled with samples of body lotions and shower gels landed on my doorstep. I’m not inundated with press packages like many bloggers, especially since I’m on a bit of a break,  but I get a few, so I don’t normally get too excited over these things. This was an exception. When I lifted the top off of the box, I was truly thrilled and couldn’t wait to give them all a try knowing full well I would want to share my thoughts with all of you.

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Happy New Year + Acure Day Cream Review

robin

It’s New Year’s Eve, and I’d like to say that one of my resolutions is to start posting on a regular basis again, but I’m not one for resolutions. I will say in earnest though, that I do hope to post more in the new year, and it feels good to be here now, sharing my newest find with you all.

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Thoughts on Mother’s Day

iris bouquetMy older son went to an iris farm outside of Portland yesterday. He had a sleepover at a friend’s house, and in the morning his buddy’s dad drove them to Salem and I’m assuming they went here. When I woke up this morning, this enchanting bouquet awaited me at breakfast and their delicate but delightful aroma warmed my heart almost as much as my boys’ hugs and excitement.

But this post is not a humblebrag about my charmed life as a mom. I wasn’t going to post at all actually. After I read Anne Lamott’s piece about Mother’s Day on Salon.com (thank you to IndiePerfumes for posting it on FB) I started to think more about all of the expectations around the day. Ones that aren’t met, either by us or for us. I thought about those who have lost their mothers literally or figuratively. Those who have lost children, or who have had difficulty in having children. As a midwife, I have to break the devastating news to women and couples quite frequently that the pregnancy they have been nurturing is no longer viable. I just had to tell a couple this last week. It’s a lot to bear on this day. This is a day that carries a lot of weight.

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