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Ingredient: Tocopherol


Tocopherol, or vitamin E, a fat-soluble vitamin is a naturally occurring antioxidant which can be isolated from vegetable oil. When isolated Tocopherol, is a viscous oil that varies in color from yellow to brownish red. Rather than Tocopherol itself, esters of Tocopherol are often used in cosmetic and personal care products. In cosmetics and personal care products, Tocopherol and other ingredients made from Tocopherol, including Tocopherol esters* are used in the formulation of lipstick, eye shadow, blushers, face powders and foundations, moisturizers, skin care products, bath soaps and detergents, hair conditioners, and many other products. It is most often used as an anti-oxidant and/or an occlusive for skin conditioning products. (*Ester = An ester is an organic compound where the hydrogen in the compound's carboxyl group is replaced with a hydrocarbon group. Esters are derived from carboxylic acids and (usually) alcohol.)

Vitamin E or "Tocopherol" is more than one ingredient. It may be listed as:

  • Alpha-tocopherol
  • Alpha-tocotrienols
  • Beta-tocopherol
  • Beta tocotrienols
  • Gamma-tocopherol
  • Gamma-Tocotrienols.

    Basically, if you see "tocopherol" or "tocotrienols" somewhere on the packaging, that's vitamin E in disguise. Also, if you see the "d" prefix (such as d-alpha-tocopherol), it means it comes from a natural source. If you see the "dl" prefix (such as dl-alpha-tocopherol), it's made in a lab. They both work well, but the natural kind seems to do the job a little bit better.

    So, what is it that this Vitamin E can do?

  • Vitamin E is a powerful antioxidant. It constantly patrols your body, looking for free radicals. When it finds one, it quickly destroys it. Problem is, the vitamin E your body naturally makes depletes with age and sun exposure. Yep, the more time you spend in the sun without sun protection, the sooner your body goes through its supply of vitamin E. That's why you want to add some back through your skincare - you'll replenish the stock and kill even more free radicals. Take that, wrinkles!
  • Vitamin E gives you some protection from the sun, too. Before you get too excited, no, it's NOT a substitute for your sunscreen. Vitamin E can help boost its protection, but it won't replace it. Studies show vitamin E reduces the severity of your sunburn and improves the effectiveness of the UV filters in your sunscreen.
  • Vitamin E strengthens the skin's natural barrier, reducing water loss. Now that moisture's locked into your skin, it softens and plumps it up.
  • It helps your skincare products last longer. Vitamin E isn't your usual antioxidant. It doesn't kill bacteria and germs that find their way into your precious lotions and potions. Instead, it prevents the light from oxidizing (i.e. making ineffective) the active ingredients in your products. Without its help, they wouldn't last you as long.
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