Vitamin E or tocopherol

Did you know that vitamin E is so unstable that it may not remain in the product/formulation? Probably his "working age" is gone before using a product. In this blog post we'll ˝give˝ you vitamin E with all its advantages and disadvantages.

Did you know that vitamin E is so unstable that it may not remain in the product/formulation? Probably his “working age” is gone before using a product. In this blog post we’ll ˝give˝ you vitamin E with all its advantages and disadvantages.

The basics about vitamin E

First, let’s look at the basics, even though we already know them. Vitamin E is an antioxidant. Antioxidant is any substance that, at low concentrations, reduces or prevents the effects of radicals. The main purpose of vitamin E is to delay or prevent the oxidation of sensitive compounds in the product. It provides defense against reactive oxygen compounds. If we don’t provide protection against reactive oxygen compounds, the cosmetic product can decompose and cause premature aging or/and DNA damaging.

We already have explained antioxidants and radicals in a post about vitamin C, if you have any doubts go to the post, to make clear, what we are talking about.

Unlike vitamin C, tocopherol is a lipid-soluble vitamin. It acts as a free radical catcher in lipophilic parts of the cell. Effective antioxidants are usually unstable because they are highly reactive. Vitamin E is for example very sensitive to UV light. So if we aren’t careful enough and we don’t store it in dark packaging, there is a chance that it will no longer be ˝successful˝ in the tasks that it has by the time we need it.

What types of vitamin E exist?

First, we can differ between tocopherols and tocotrienols. They differ in the application and percentage, which is allowed to be incorporated into a cosmetic product. There are four different forms of each: α, β, γ, and δ. So in total 8 different forms of vitamin E.

Role in cosmetic productsAO, smoothing, maskingStabilizer, in oral hygiene products, skin smoothing
% allowed in cosmetic products5,4%0,12%

What positive features does vitamin E show on the skin?

• smoothes fine wrinkles caused by photo ageing

• humectant

• after application the skin is softer and smoother (smoothing effect)

• few side effects because it forms a part of our body (if we add it to the skin, it recognizes our body for its own)

• accelerates wound/scar healing

• inhibits inflammation

• reduces damage caused by UV light

• protects our skin against harmful chemical substances

In cosmetics it’s used in concentrations from 1 to 5%. Normally we use vitamins E esters because they are more stable and better soluble in formulations. For example, tocopheryl succinate and tocopheryl acetate are the most used. Tocopheryl acetate is allowed in products up to 36%. Tocopheryl acetate has another good property it’s not phototoxic. What does that mean? If the substances are phototoxic, it means that if we go to the sun, the sun will burn us even more and leave the consequences for a longer period of time.

Natural presence of vitamin E?

Tocopherol is found in seeds, fruits and latex. Oils with the largest amounts of vitamin E are: oil of pomegranate and sea buckthorn oil. It’s also found in sunflower, peanut, walnut, sesame and olive oil. Palm oil is one of the richest sources of tocotrienols and it’s also found in coconut oil, cocoa butter and soy. However in cosmetic products we need to add extra amounts of vitamin E, since its content in oils isn’t sufficient to provide a good antioxidant role.

The permanence of vitamin E dependents on the fatty-acid composition of the oils (especially unsaturated fatty acids – those with double bonds, which can be oxidized very fast).


How do we isolate it?

Tocopherol is isolated from vegetable oils (natural tocopherol). Tocotrienols can be isolated from the vine and oats. Alternatively, it can be obtained by other synthetic methods.

How does vitamin E come to cells?

Do you remember when we mentioned keratinocytes (epidermis cells) in skin composition? Well, vitamin E is also stored in keratinocytes, which are moved while the process of keratinization to the surface of the skin. So vitamin E ˝travels˝ with them. Another possible way is that vitamin E comes on the surface of the skin with sebum, since vitamin E is also secreted by the sebaceous glands. Why did we complicate things?

The activity of sebaceous glands begins to decrease after 50 years in women and after 70 years in men. And what do we usually do if something is running out of our body? Yeah, let’s help our body. The application of vitamin E shows positive effects for our skin and that’s delayed aging. Of course, it doesn’t prevent it, just to be clear.

What about metabolism?

α-tocopherol incorporates into lipoproteins (VLDL), these allow the distribution of this form of tocopherol over the body. Other forms pass into the bloodstream and are rapidly metabolized and secreted from the body. That’s why in skin can be found a lot higher amounts of α-tocopherol and very small amounts of γ-tocopherol.

Vitamin E is another indispensable ingredient in the cosmetics industry. Manufacturers incorporate it in oils and butters to prevent their oxidation. It can also be a MUST in your skincare routine, now that you know its positive effects, we believe that you will at least consider including vitamin E in your routine.


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