Vitamin E and Acne: Is it Effective?

By Marc Peterson

Vitamin E and Acne:  Is it Effective?

Vitamin E and Acne:  Is it Effective?

Vitamin E has long been praised as one of the biggest contributing factors to bodily health.  Many people consider Vitamin E essential for prevention of heart disease, cancer, diabetes, cataracts, and Alzheimer’s disease.  While the truth of these claims is still up for debate, the fact remains that Vitamin E has some major health benefits that are associated with skin health.  We’ll explore what Vitamin E is and how it may benefit your battle with acne.

What is Vitamin E

Vitamin E is a group of chemical compounds most commonly found in oils, leafy greens, and other vegetables.  It is a fat-soluble antioxidant, which means that it is stored in fatty tissues and travels through the lymphatic system to get to the blood stream.  Vitamin E, when ingested, typically stays in the body for long periods of time.  As a form of antioxidant, Vitamin E helps inhibit free radicals, which can damage skin as well as other parts of the body.  The main function of Vitamin E is to support cell membranes, increase blood flow, and strengthen muscles, the heart, and the skin.

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Vitamin E and Skin: Myth vs. Fact

Vitamin E is widely considered to be one of the most effective skin and acne treatments.  But do all these claims ring true?  Don’t run to the store to grab a bottle of Vitamin E oil just yet.  Here are the things you must consider before you slather yourself in Vitamin E oil.

  • Vitamin E Oil retains the moisture your skin produces

The moisturizing component of Vitamin E allows your skin’s natural oils to be retained to the skin, instead of drying out.  This makes Vitamin E an ideal application for those who have naturally dry skin or experience psoriasis and eczema.  Generally, those who suffer from these skin conditions also incorporate other treatments.  When it comes to Vitamin E, proceed with caution.  The oil itself is so thick and greasy that it can have the opposite effect on skin.  People with dry skin may prefer Vitamin E to treat acne because the skin needs more moisture.  Dry skin can become tight and itchy, and constantly touching the face will leave skin vulnerable to bacteria from the hands.  Vitamin E can keep skin hydrated and glowing, thus reducing the potential of acne on dry skin.

  • Not Good for Oily Skin

It may be beneficial for dry skin, but Vitamin E oil is not ideal for oily skin.  It is already a thick and greasy oil that will only add another layer to your skin.  If you have oily skin, your skin doesn’t need more oil and you should seek other treatment.

  • Fades Scars and Dark Spots

Vitamin E is best known as a treatment for scars and dark spots that occur on skin.  You might remember your mother rubbing Vitamin E on your knee after you took a nasty tumble.  Many people believe this is because Vitamin E helps rebuild tissue, so it may assist in fading scars and boost the healing process.  However, many studies suggest this isn’t true.  It is true that natural collagen in the skin helps form scar tissue, and Vitamin E can manipulate the formation of that collagen, but it doesn’t mean that applying Vitamin E is a magic cure.  Your body will go through the natural process of healing whether or not you apply Vitamin E oil.

  • Promotes Tissue Repair from Sun Damage

According to a study conducted in 2012, the antioxidant properties of Vitamin E in conjunction with Vitamin C, glutathione, uric acid, and ubiquinol all play a part in enhancing the DNA enzyme repair systems to keep skin from harmful carcinogens such as prolonged exposure to UV rays.  What this implies is that our skin is receptive to the antioxidant healing factors that keep skin protected before the damage may even begin.  In addition to helping reduce UV damage, it can be used to treat sunburn to prevent further harm.

  • Reduces Signs of Aging

As mentioned before, the antioxidant properties of Vitamin E reduce free radical damage.  Just like in relation to UV ray damage, there is evidence to suggest that Vitamin E reduces signs of aging.  The anti-inflammatory properties of Vitamin E can slow the progression of wrinkles and environmental damage such as smoke.  This will not dramatically reduce signs of the effects of lifestyle habits such as smoking or tanning, for example.

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How to Use Vitamin E

Essential Vitamins are those that are not naturally made in the body, and therefore must be taken from an external resource.  Vitamin E is one of these Essential Vitamins, and therefore it is critical you take in the proper amount to maintain balanced nutrition both on and below the skin’s surface.

  • Vitamin E Oil

The most common way people treat skin with Vitamin E is through a direct application of Vitamin E oil.  Below are the essential tips that will optimize the effectiveness of Vitamin E for your acne.

  • Apply Oil at Night

For the best results, apply the oil only at night.  While you sleep, your body performs most of its reconstructive work.  Simply dampen your face, pat it dry, and apply a thin layer of Vitamin E to the skin with a cotton swab.  Then wash off gently in the morning.

  • Vitamin E in Foods

It simply isn’t enough to apply a topical solution of Vitamin E to benefit your body.  Healthy skin starts with a healthy diet, and luckily a lot of healthy foods are packed with Vitamin E.  Leafy greens, avocados, sweet potatoes, almonds, and butternut squash, olive oil, and other oils and foods are excellent sources of Vitamin E.

  • Combine with Vitamin C

Vitamin C and E in combination create an enhanced immune system and contribute to heart health.  A better immune system means better body function, which is a holistic solution to poor skin.

Potential Risks of Vitamin E

Don’t get too carried away with Vitamin E.  Too much Vitamin E in the body is suggested to increase the risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.  The Recommended dosage of Vitamin E is about 1500 IU per day.  More than this can cause hypervitaminosis E, vitamin K deficiency, and bleeding problems.  Never go over the recommended dosage and consult a doctor if you experience symptoms of these conditions.


Vitamin E is not a cure-all for acne or acne scars.  However, it can moisturize dry skin to prevent irritation.  For those with dry skin, a thin oil mask can create a glowing and more radiant look.  While some studies are inconclusive about the effects of Vitamin E in some skin care cases, the fact remains that this can be a good alternative for moderate to dry skin.  Consult a dermatologist to find the solution that works best for your skin.