Vitamin E, while it is found in many foods and can also be taken in supplement form, is perhaps best known as the skin care vitamin. While cosmetic chemist Ni’Kita Wilson tells Allure that there are actually eight different types of vitamin E, the National Institutes of Health only recognizes one form of this vitamin compound as safe for human skin care, and that form is something known as tocopherol.

So what, exactly, is tocopherol, besides being a word that’s much harder to spell (and say) than a simple “vitamin E”? Cosmetic chemist Ginger King explains that it is an antioxidant which can help to protect, moisturize, heal, and strengthen your skin. According to the Micronutrient Information Center of Oregon State University’s Linus Pauling Institute, vitamin E (in its tocopherol form) is found naturally in human skin, and it can also be applied topically to provide your skin with additional protection. The only problem, though, is that vitamin E does not stand up too well to sunlight, so any effective cosmetic use of vitamin E must involve some form of UV protection.

How vitamin E oil benefits your skin

Vitamin E is an anti-inflammatory, so it can help reduce reddening, thickening, and swelling of damaged skin. Vitamin E oil is also a great skin moisturizer, and can cure itching caused by dry skin and may even offer at least a temporary relief from skin that is itchy due to allergies or infection. While oral vitamin E is known to help reduce symptoms of eczema (atopic dermatitis), topical vitamin E’s benefits haven’t been so conclusively documented, although it is thought that its moisturizing properties can help alleviate the suffering from this condition. Medical News Today also indicates that vitamin E oil is somewhat effective in treating mild cases of psoriasis.

Vitamin E is frequently included in anti-aging skin care products. Healthline speculates that vitamin E oil’s antioxidant properties promote blood circulation and thus help skin appear firmer, and it can also help to delay the development of wrinkles by protecting the skin from sun damage. Once those dreaded fine lines do start appearing, vitamin E can help with these, too, since well-moisturized skin doesn’t appear quite so wrinkly.

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