Vitamin E Oil: Are the Benefits Worth Trying?

Sophia Wesley
Sophia Wesley
8 Min Read

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble vitamin found in vegetable oils, leafy plants, legumes, nuts, seeds, and more. You can consume adequate amounts of vitamin E through diet, but some use oil or oral supplements.

Vitamin E oil is used topically for hair, nails, and skin, but more scientific evidence is needed to confirm its benefits. Vitamin E is added to beauty products and marketed as a way to postpone the effects of aging. If you are looking for pure vitamin E oil, check the ingredients list for the type of vitamin E in it.

Read on to learn more about the benefits of vitamin E oil, its ingredients, instructions for use, and potential side effects.

Whole-Body Uses of Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant that scavenges free radicals (damage-causing unstable molecules) and protects the skin from oxidative stress. It moisturizes the skin, protects against ultraviolet (UV) rays, and increases hair growth and shine.

Vitamin E Compounds

Vitamin E encompasses eight fat-soluble compounds, each with distinct antioxidant activities. The eight chemical forms include alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocopherol and alpha-, beta-, gamma-, and delta-tocotrienol. Alpha-tocopherol (α- tocopherol) is the only form recognized to meet human requirements.


Vitamin E oil is promoted to help with hair growth, breakage, shine, and luster. However, there is little research to support these benefits. Researchers suggest vitamin E oil may help increase blood flow in the scalp due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which moisturize hair.


Vitamin E is the most abundant antioxidant in human skin. Vitamin E oil may be used as a form of skin moisturizer. It works by increasing the amount of vitamin E in your skin, but how long it lasts is questionable as it oxidizes after exposure to light.

Other benefit claims include:

  • Sun damage and skin moisturizer: Topical vitamin E oil may protect the skin from UV exposure, reducing dehydration, wrinkling, facial lines, and skin roughness. Vitamin E oil is not meant to be used as sunscreen. Use small amounts of vitamin E oil with moisturizer to hydrate the skin. Combining vitamin E with vitamin C may offer more protection against UV damage.
  • Skin conditions such as eczema: Topical vitamin E may not have the same effects as oral vitamin E supplements when it comes to dry, itchy skin associated with eczema and psoriasis. One study showed topical vitamin E (mixed with other ingredients) irritated the skin and activated an eczema flare in people with the condition. However, more research is needed.
  • Stretch marks, scars, and dark spots: Research shows topical vitamin E does not reduce the appearance of stretch marks or scars and may increase the risk of contact dermatitis. Applying a gel containing 2% phytonadione, 0.1% retinol, 0.1% vitamin C, and 0.1% vitamin E may help reduce dark spots or circles underneath the eyes. More research is needed on the effectiveness of vitamin E alone.
  • Wound healing: While more research is needed on vitamin E oil working on its own to heal wounds, studies have shown that an oral combination of vitamin E, vitamin C, and zinc may assist in wound healing.
  • Nails: Oral vitamin E supplements have been used to treat yellow nail syndrome, a rare disorder often associated with lymphedema (painful arm or leg swelling) and chronic pulmonary infections. Treatment dosages have been utilized at 1,000–1,200 international units a day (IU/day) with inconsistent results. Researchers believe the effectiveness has to do with vitamin E’s antioxidant abilities.

Ingredients in Vitamin E Oil

Vitamin E can be made naturally by extracting oils from olives and other plants rich in vitamin E or produced synthetically. Pure vitamin E oil contains vitamin E only. Vitamin E from natural sources is commonly listed as “d-alpha-tocopherol” on food packaging and supplement labels. Laboratory-made or synthetic versions are usually listed as “dl-alpha-tocopherol.”

Some people open vitamin E capsules and put them directly on their skin. The problem is that it is hard to know what concentration of vitamin E you are getting, where it is coming from, and how much you absorb. Depending on the product, variations of vitamin E oil can contain other ingredients, including additional oils, vitamins, and fragrances.

Vitamin E oil may also be added to soaps and beauty products like serums and shampoos. Some people like making their own soaps, using essential oils, vitamin E, and other ingredients.

Vitamin E Oil Application Instructions

There is no standard dosage or recommendations for applying vitamin E oil. Vitamin E concentrations between 0.1% and 1.0% are considered safe and effective in increasing vitamin E in the skin, but studies are lacking. Follow package instructions and discontinue use if you have a reaction, like a rash.

Ingestion vs. Topical Application

Ingesting vitamin E supplements is different from applying them topically. Vitamin E supplement compounds vary based on whether the product is natural or synthetic. Mixed products may contain alpha-tocopherol, other tocopherols, and tocotrienols.

While naturally occurring vitamin E has only alpha-tocopherol, synthetically formed supplements may contain all eight compounds. Limits are set for vitamin E supplementation based on research that suggests high amounts can increase the risk of bleeding (hemorrhage).

Skin Side Effects From Vitamin E Oil

The stability of vitamin E is often questionable. Oxidation can occur after exposure to light and heat, which may impact the oil’s effectiveness. This is one of the reasons it is often mixed with other ingredients.

Side effects of topical application include rash, itchiness, skin irritation, allergic contact dermatitis (itchy skin and rash), and erythema (redness of the skin). Always discuss use with a healthcare professional before use.


Vitamin E is a natural antioxidant commonly used for skin and hair health, yet research on its benefits is limited. Consume a diet rich in antioxidants and hydrating foods to support your skin and hair naturally. Plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, and whole grains contain phytochemicals, vitamins, and minerals that naturally support skin and hair health.

If you are still interested in supplementing with vitamin E or using it topically, speak to a healthcare provider for individualized recommendations. Proper use can help you achieve results and prevent side effects.

Read the original article on Verywell Health.

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