You're scanning the ingredient list of your go-to moisturizer...when you spot a crazy-sounding name. WTF is tocopherol?
Turns out, this odd-sounding ingredient is in a LOT of beauty products—from eye creams to anti-aging serums. And yes, you def want to keep slathering it on your bod.
What is tocopherol?
While it sounds like a scary chemical, tocopherol is actually the name of eight different forms of vitamin E, says Deanne Mraz-Robinson, M.D. of the Connecticut Dermatology Group. It's an old-school antioxidant that occurs naturally in the skin. You can also find it in foods like spinach, nuts, seeds, and sunflower oil.
Vitamin E benefits for skin
Like fellow antioxidants vitamin C and ferulic acid, tocopherol acts like a shield that protects your skin and bod from free radical damage, says Mraz-Robinson.
Remember: Free radicals are rogue molecules that have been damaged by toxins like UVA/UVB rays or pollution. Their favorite hobbies include breaking down your skin's collagen and causing skin cancer, hyperpigmentation, and other signs of aging.
Regularly using antioxidants like tocopherol can help counteract the damage done by free radicals, and prevent it from happening in the future.
Vitamin E's wrinkle-fighting powers make it a common ingredient in anti-aging products likeRoc Multi Correxion 5 In 1 Anti-Aging Chest, Neck & Face Cream.It's also really good at battling dryness (which is why argan oil is such a great hydrator—it's naturally high in vitamin E).
How do you use tocopherol?
Tocopherol works best when left on the skin, so look for it in day and night moisturizers (likeCharlotte Tilbury Magic Cream Treat and Transform Moisturizer). It also works well when paired with other antioxidants, like vitamin C, for a free-radical fighting boost.
Vitamin E, however, is not for everyone. Tocopherol can be irritating, and some people are allergic to it (although a 20-year study found them to be extremely rare). If you have sensitive skin or a skin condition like rosacea, you're also probably better off skipping tocopherol, says Mraz-Robinson. She also says that people with acne should skip vitamin E, since it's known to make acne flare.
However, a small 2019 study found that adding tocopherol to an acne-fighting skin care routine actually helped reduce angry flareups, so there's definitely lots of room for debate here.
Video: What Is D Alpha Tocopherol
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