What is vitamin E known for?

Vitamin E is best known for its antioxidant properties that help reduce free radical damage and protect the body’s cells. Although you can find it in the supplement aisle, many companies add vitamin E to their beauty products. And for good reason!

Vitamin E has been used in dermatology since the 1950s to help protect the skin against aging, inflammation, and sun damage. The fat-soluble antioxidant is vital for maintaining healthy skin and a strong immune system.

Recently, vitamin E has been hailed as a cure-all to turn frizzy, damaged, unmanageable hair into shiny, luscious locks worthy of a shampoo commercial — or a sun-soaked Instagram image.

Keep reading to learn how the skin-boosting properties of vitamin E may be used to improve hair health and promote growth.

What can vitamin E do for your hair?

Early research suggests that vitamin E can help improve overall scalp and hair health. More studies are needed to truly understand its possible benefits.

Prevent hair loss

A small trial from 2010 found that vitamin E supplements improved hair growth in people with hair loss. It’s thought that the vitamin’s antioxidant properties helped reduce oxidative stress in the scalp. Oxidative stress has been linked with hair loss.

Improve scalp circulation

Vitamin E may increase blood flow, which is said to improve hair health. Researchers in one 1999 study found that high doses of vitamin E increased blood flow to the eyes in people with type 1 diabetes.

A separate 2001 study found that increased blood supply encouraged hair growth and increased the hair follicle and size in mice.

However, more research is needed to see if vitamin E directly affects blood supply to the scalp and if so, what that means for hair growth.

Balance oil production

Vitamin E is important for creating a protective barrier on the skin’s surface. This barrier helps lock in moisture. Dry, irritated skin can be a sign of vitamin E deficiency.

Although it’s unclear whether topical vitamin E can balance out scalp oil production, oils that contain vitamin E — like avocado oil — may help moisturize the scalp. They may also help prevent excess oil production.

Add shine

Hair can look dull and frizzy when it’s damaged. When the protective fat layer on the outside of the hair’s cuticle is removed, it loses its shine and becomes difficult to manage or style according to the Academy of Dermatology. A vitamin E-rich oil can help replace that protective layer and bring back shine. Oil in general also helps seal out moisture, reduce breakage, and protect the hair from damage.

Support a healthy scalp

Vitamin E is essential for healthy skin — and this includes your scalp. Poor scalp health is linked to lackluster hair quality. Vitamin E supports the scalp and gives your hair a strong base to grow from by reducing oxidative stress and preserving the protective lipid layer.

How to use vitamin E for your hair

The good news is that vitamin E is easy to get through a balanced diet. In fact, a vitamin E deficiency is extremely rare, because most people get plenty throughout the day from whole and enriched foods.

But if you want to specifically target your hair, vitamin E can also be applied topically with a shampoo, conditioner, mask, or oil.

Diet

What you eat — and how much — is crucial for healthy hair. A lack of calories, protein, or micronutrients like vitamin E can impact your hair’s growth, structure, and loss.

Nuts, leafy greens, olive oil, and sunflower oil are some of the richest sources of vitamin E. It’s also found in meats and fortified foods like breakfast cereal.

Supplements

Although supplements are readily available, they aren’t necessary. Most people get enough vitamin E through diet alone. Some research even suggests that people benefit more from vitamin E when they get it through whole foods rather than a supplement.

Supplements can also put you at risk of getting too much vitamin E, which can be dangerous. You should always talk to your healthcare provider before starting a new supplement.

Vitamin E oil

Most vitamin E oils contain a carrier oil to dilute the oil and help prevent skin irritation. If you want use pure vitamin E oil, be sure to properly dilute the oil before use. That said, vitamin E oils are often expensive and can be difficult to work with — they’re usually thick and oxidize quickly when exposed to air.

Your best bet is to use a hair oil that contains vitamin E as a secondary ingredient. Popular options include:

To get the most out of the vitamin E-rich oil:

  1. Massage it onto your scalp.
  2. Gently comb through with a wide-tooth comb.
  3. Let the oil sit for at least 15 minutes.
  4. When you’re done, wash the oil out of your hair with your regular shampoo.
  5. If your hair already feels well moisturized, you can skip conditioner.

Shampoo and conditioner

Looking for a treatment you can do more often without adding time to your routine? Many shampoos and conditioners include vitamin E. These products are formulated for frequent use and are often made for dry, damaged hair.

It’s best to let the product sit for a few minutes while you continue with your shower routine to help the product work its way into the hair and scalp. Look for products that contain essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or tea tree oil for added hair benefits.

Popular options include:

Hair mask

Much like the kind you would put on your face, a hair mask is meant to soothe or treat the scalp. Although vitamin E oil may help moisturize your locks, the strands of your hair can’t be “healed” by it. Instead, focus the mask on your scalp where it can be absorbed.

To make an easy mask rich in vitamin E at home, combine the following ingredients in a blender:

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 banana
  • 1 tbsp. avocado oil
  • 1 tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 tbsp. honey

You can also purchase pre-made masks like:

To use:

  1. Apply your chosen mask to your scalp with your fingers.
  2. Let it sit for 20 minutes to an hour, depending on your mask’s instructions.
  3. Wash it off with warm water or a gentle shampoo.

Are there potential side effects or risks?

Always dilute vitamin E before applying it to your skin, scalp, or hair. Undiluted vitamin E oil can cause skin irritation or a rash.

Taking supplements can increase your risk of ingesting dangerous amounts of vitamin E.

High doses of vitamin E can:

It’s important to talk to your doctor before adding a vitamin E supplement to your diet.

The average adults needs only 15 milligrams (22.4 IU) of vitamin E each day. The National Institute of Health recommends no more than 1,500 IU of natural-occurring vitamin E or 1,100 IU of synthetic vitamin E per day.

The bottom line

Vitamin E can be a great addition to your haircare arsenal, and you don’t need a fancy product to do so! The foods in your fridge are a great place to start.

Although you can find plenty of products that include the powerful antioxidant, it’s best to talk to your healthcare provider before using a vitamin E treatment or taking a supplement, especially if you have a hair, skin, or scalp condition.

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