Main content


Vitamin E is found naturally in our bodies. We explain what it is, the benefits of vitamin E and how to incorporate the ingredient into your daily routine.

vitamin e for skin

Vitamin E has a long history as a key ingredient in hydrating and anti-ageing skincare formulas intended for dry skin. For more than 50 years, skin experts have been harnessing vitamin E’s benefits by including this essential nutrient in creams, balms, serums and lotions.

New ingredients continue to arrive on the skincare scene, but vitamin E has retained a starring role in many product formulas. But what does vitamin E help with? This essential vitamin boasts a winning combination of antioxidant, humectant and emollient qualities. This means vitamin E can protect against environmental damage, attract moisture to the skin’s surface and help seal it in.

Read on to learn why products enriched with vitamin E should be an important part of your skincare, as well as how to integrate them into your routine for optimal benefits.

What is vitamin E?

Vitamin E is a fat-soluble nutrient that’s essential to the healing and cell regeneration process in the human body. This highly beneficial ingredient is often included in skincare formulas to help hydrate and protect the skin.

Vitamin E can be found in many plant leaves and seeds. Natural plant-based sources of vitamin E include whole grains, sunflower seeds, olive oil, broccoli, spinach, nuts and wheat germ oil. Your body also produces vitamin E in the sebaceous glands as part of the sebum (natural oil) that’s essential to keep the skin’s surface layer hydrated and healthy.

It may surprise you to learn that there are eight different naturally occurring forms of vitamin E, however you’re unlikely to see all of them on a skincare ingredients list. Tocopheryl and tocopheryl acetate are the two types most commonly found in skincare formulas.

What does vitamin E do for the skin?

The list of vitamin E’s uses for skin is a long one, but it’s well worth knowing. Understanding how vitamin E helps the complexion is key to being able to effectively add this ingredient to your skincare routine.

Though vitamin E is naturally produced by the skin, people with drier skin types may not produce an optimal amount. By supplementing your skin’s own supply of vitamin E via your skincare routine, you can get maximal benefits from this essential nutrient. From multifaceted hydrating effects to protection against sun damage, each skin benefit of vitamin E is worth understanding in depth.

Cellular benefits

Vitamin E can help improve the appearance of the skin at the cellular level. Vitamin E’s status as an antioxidant means it can help promote cell regeneration and turnover, which can in turn help reduce the appearance of discolouration, uneven pigmentation and some forms of scarring. More specifically, visible skin damage from UV exposure, burns or acne scarring can be minimised when you integrate vitamin E into your regular regime.

Antioxidant benefits

Topical vitamin E is well known for its antioxidant properties, meaning it can stop damaging free radicals from unnecessarily accelerating the ageing process within the skin.

But how does this physiological process work? Free radicals are all around us in the environment. They’re classified as ‘unstable’ molecules because they’re missing an electron. This makes them dangerous to any skin cells they encounter.

Antioxidants halt this process and stabilise free radicals by lending them a spare electron. Because sun damage to the skin is caused by free radicals, antioxidants like vitamin E can help prevent sun damage when applied before or soon after exposure.

Hydrating benefits

Most skincare ingredients targeted towards dry skin possess either humectant or emollient qualities, but vitamin E falls into both categories. As a humectant, this vitamin attracts water molecules on the skin’s surface to themselves, effectively drawing in more moisture. As an emollient, vitamin E also provides a protective barrier on the skin which helps seal in moisture and minimise transepidermal water loss.

Anti-ageing benefits

Vitamin E’s hydrating benefits create a visible anti-ageing effect beyond its antioxidant properties. Hydration can improve the appearance of visible skin ageing such as lines and wrinkles by re-plumping the skin. When the skin is ultra-hydrated, existing fine lines become less pronounced for a more youthful-looking complexion.

How to incorporate vitamin E into your skincare routine

Vitamin E is a suitable addition your skincare routine for most skin types. Kiehl’s recommends exercising caution if you have very sensitive skin, as it’s possible (although rare) to have an allergy to this ingredient. We recommend trying a vitamin E cream or moisturiser first and combining with vitamin C to enhance efficacy. Here are some Kiehl’s products enriched with naturally derived plant-based vitamin E, with recommendations for use.

Lip Balm #1

Our Lip Balm #1 remains a classic since the 1960s. Squalane, Aloe Vera and vitamin E combine in a natural balm for dry, cracked lips. This balm is intensely hydrating to protect dry lips in winter and nourishing for the delicate skin all year round. Apply a generous amount to allow for absorption.

Learn how to understand and manage your skin concerns with our Kiehl’s instant skin reader tool. With just a few questions and a quick photo upload, you can receive a personalised skin analysis and dermatologist-developed skincare routine.

Lip Balm #1

Our Lip Balm #1 remains a classic since the 1960s. Squalane, Aloe Vera and vitamin E combine in a natural balm for dry, cracked lips. This balm is intensely hydrating to protect dry lips in winter and nourishing for the delicate skin all year round. Apply a generous amount to allow for absorption.

Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash

Our Facial Fuel Energizing Face Wash from our men’s range is an efficient gel wash formulated to help dull, tired-looking skin appear refreshed and healthy. Caffeine and menthol invigorate the skin, as vitamin E wards off dryness and provides antioxidant protection for the day ahead. Gently lather into the skin in an upward and outward motion before rinsing well.


Orientation message
For the best experience, please turn your device