what is vitamin e oil good for?
Vitamin E contains antioxidants, moisturizing, and healing properties that offer the following health benefits for your skin.

Though vitamin E has been used in various over-the-counter skin lightening creams, there is insufficient evidence on whether vitamin E oil can remove dark spots.

  • The only evidence is that it can protect from the damaging effects of the sun and reduce depigmentation in melasma.
  • However, a significant reduction in the dark spots of melasma has been observed when vitamin E is used in combination with vitamin C.

Vitamin E oil can help reduce the signs of aging by acting as an antioxidant.

  • Antioxidants are substances that fight off the effects of free radicals that can be emitted from the sun, pollution, cigarette smoke, amongst many other sources.
  • These free radicals are formed in the body as the result of metabolism (cellular processes) and have damaging effects on collagen and glycosaminoglycans.
  • These two substances play a key role in keeping the skin moisturized, smooth, and firm.

How to apply vitamin E oil to your face

If you want to apply pure vitamin E to your face, it is recommended to conduct a patch test first (see the following steps): 

  1. Apply a pea-sized amount to the back of your elbow.
  2. Wait for 24 hours at least to see if it causes any skin reaction, such as redness, itchiness, or dryness.
  3. If there is no skin reaction, you can apply it to your face.

If you are using pure vitamin E oil, here are the steps you should follow:

  1. Wash your face with a cleanser, based on your skin type, and pat your skin dry gently with a towel.
  2. Apply a hot or warm towel on your skin and keep it there for two to three minutes.
    • This helps open the pore and enhances the absorption of vitamin E oil.
  3. Take a pea-sized vitamin E oil and apply gently all over your face or on the problematic areas of your skin.
  4. If you have dry skin, apply it at bedtime and leave it overnight.
  5. If you have oily skin, especially acne-prone, do not leave vitamin e overnight.
    • Wash it off after 15 minutes.
  6. Use a cotton cloth or towel on your pillow as vitamin E oil can stain your pillow.

What causes dark spots?

Dark spots occur on the skin when there is an overproduction or collection of melanin, which is a skin pigment that gives the skin its dark color and is responsible for the variation in skin colors amongst individuals. Melanin clusters may form where there is inflammation in the skin.

People with light skin and hair and who have had frequent sunburns are at a greater risk of developing dark spots.

Common causes of dark spots include:

  • Sun exposure (common in middle age)
  • Pregnancy
  • Certain medications, including:
  • Heavy metals
  • Skin conditions, such as:
    • Skin discoloration following a scrape, rash, or acne
    • Melasma (pregnancy mask or chloasma)
    • Linea nigra (a dark, vertical line that appears to run down on the middle of the abdomen during pregnancy)

Less common causes of dark spots include conditions, such as:

What are the available treatments for dark spots?

Vitamin E oil may not work for all dark spots. Hence, instead of relying on it for your skin problems, it is recommended to consult a skin specialist who will look at your skin and diagnose the cause of your dark spots. They will decide the most appropriate treatment based on the cause and your skin type.

It is possible to fade the dark spots or remove them completely with treatments that include:

  • Over-the-counter (OTC) products
  • Prescription drugs
  • Cosmetic procedures

OTC products

Some OTC products can fade dark spots, but do not expect them to eliminate dark spots.

The effective ingredients in these OTC products may include one or more of the following:

  • Retinoids (such as retinol)
  • Alpha hydroxy acid
  • Glycolic acid
  • Arbutin
  • Kojic acid

Prescription drugs

Hydroquinone is the principal ingredient in prescription skin-lightening creams.

  • This needs application over several months to diminish the appearance of dark spots. 
  • The medication works by inhibiting the production of melanin.

Cosmetic procedures

  • Laser treatment: This involves focusing light energy of a particular wavelength to burn the dark spots by removing the layers of the skin.
  • Chemical peels: Applying any of the solutions that contain salicylic, glycolic, lactic, or trichloroacetic acid (TCA) for one or two minutes. The procedure removes the dark spots by peeling the upper layers of the skin and helps improve the skin tone.
  • Microdermabrasion: This can be chemical-based or physical. Chemicals involve spraying crystals over dark spots. Physical dermabrasion involves gently moving the wand that contains fine microneedles over the dark spots.
  • Cryosurgery: Cryosurgery involves passing liquid nitrogen solution on the skin to freeze the dark spots. The skin then peels off.

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Medically Reviewed on 12/29/2021
References
Image Source: iStock Images

Keen MA, Hassan I. Vitamin E in dermatology. Indian Dermatol Online J. 2016;7(4):311-315.

Pandel R, Poljšak B, Godic A, Dahmane R. Skin photoaging and the role of antioxidants in its prevention. International Scholarly Research Notices. 2013;2013.

Desai SR. Hyperpigmentation therapy: a review. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2014;7(8):13-17.