Vitamin E

The skin benefits of Vitamin E

If you could, you might hire an army to defend your skin against all the assaults it has to deal with day in and day out: pollution, stress, smoke and less-than-healthy foods, to name just a few. Luckily, you can think of antioxidants like vitamin E as your skin’s own battalion. Each antioxidant plays a different and important role in protecting cells, but it’s vitamin E that’s truly on the front lines — in fact, your skin contains more vitamin E than any other nutrient.

Concentrated in the sebum, a substance produced by oil glands, and in the membranes of skin cells and the lipid-based “glue” that holds them together, vitamin E is uniquely positioned to maintain the integrity and beauty of your complexion. By both consuming foods loaded with the nutrient and using products that contain vitamin E you’re actively protecting and nourishing your skin.

Here’s what happens when you feed your body vitamin E:

Vitamin E helps prevent signs of aging

When skin is exposed to UV light, smoke and air pollution, it produces free radicals and other rogue molecules that damage collagen (your skin’s support structure), DNA and skin cells, all of which ultimately contributes to wrinkles and brown spots. Vitamin E fights those effects by neutralizing the free radicals. The process of protecting your skin depletes your stores of the vitamin quickly, though. Research has shown that even after a small amount of UV exposure — what you might get just going into and out of the office, or while running errands — levels of vitamin E in the skin drop by 50 percent. That means the vitamin has done its job, but it also underscores how important is to replenish this nutrient by using cosmetic products with vitamin E.

Vitamin E keeps skin hydrated and calm

Because vitamin E lives in and protects cell membranes, which form a barrier around cells to keep them healthy and hydrated, it indirectly helps skin stay moisturized and supple. Plus, along with being an effective antioxidant, vitamin E also fights inflammation: One study of people with a condition called atopic dermatitis, which causes red, itchy, irritated skin, found that those who used cosmetic products with vitamin E got significant relief.

Vitamin E complements your SPF

Aside from scavenging free radicals, vitamin E also absorbs UVB light — the nasty spectrum of sunlight that is responsible for burning and aging skin. Research shows that vitamin E may increase the amount of time it takes SPF-free skin to burn, so it has a protective effect. Cosmetic products containing vitamin E help thwart UV-induced damage by rendering free radicals harmless before they can damage cells. Numerous studies also show that topical vitamin E can lessen the redness and swelling of a burn.