Vitamin E is a fat soluble dietary nutrient that is found in many types of plant-based oils, nuts, vegetables and fish. Vitamin E refers to a group of tocopherol and tocotrienol compounds, which have antioxidant properties and are essential for many important biological functions. Vitamin E is one of the most popular vitamin supplements.
Vitamin E and Acne
Vitamin E is widely used as an oral and topical treatment for active acne and acne scars. However, most scientific studies on Vitamin E and acne have found that Vitamin E supplements have little to no effect on acne symptoms.
Almost every research study that has been conducted found that Vitamin E supplements do not have significant health benefits for otherwise healthy people. This is probably because the majority of people already consume abundant amounts of Vitamin E in their diet.
One of the most common misconceptions about Vitamin E is that topical application of Vitamin E is an can accelerate skin healing and reduce the appearance of acne scars. Many people break open Vitamin E capsules and apply the solution directly to acne scars and other problem areas. Vitamin E is commonly added to moisturizers and other skin creams. However, several clinical research studies have found that topical Vitamin E is not an effective treatment for acne scars. Vitamin E supplements are also an ineffective strategy for decreasing the symptoms of certain acne drugs that can irritate the skin, such as Isotretinoin (Accutane).
Overall, most people have sufficient levels of Vitamin E in their diet and do not significantly benefit from Vitamin E supplements. However, topically application of Vitamin E is safe and has few side effects. Oral Vitamin E supplements are also safe, when consumed in recommended quantities. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps protect cell membranes from oxidative damage. It is possible that Vitamin E may help support healthy skin, but it is unlikely to have a significant effect on active acne symptoms or acne scars.
Vitamin E Side Effects
Consuming very large amounts of Vitamin E supplements can be toxic because excess Vitamin E can not be easily eliminated from the body in the urine. Symptoms of Vitamin E toxicity include nausea, digestive problems, fatigue and problems with blood clotting.
Concomitant administration of vitamin E does not change the side effects of isotretinoin as used in acne vulgaris: a randomized trial. Strauss, et al. 2000.
Topical vitamins. Burgess. 2008.
Blood glutathione-peroxidase levels in skin diseases: effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment. Juhlin, et al. 1981.
Erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activity in acne vulgaris and the effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment. Michaelsson, et al. 1983.
Does the plasma level of vitamins A and E affect acne condition? Elakawi, et al. 2006.
Safety of oral intake of vitamin E. Bendich, et al 1988.
Why don’t we use vitamin E in dermatology? Pehr, et al. 1993.
Lipid mediators in acne. Ottaviani, et al. 2010.
Vitamin E does not reduce the side effects of isotretinoin in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Kus, et al. 2005.
The role of vitamin E in normal and damaged skin. Nachbar, et al. 1995.