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Vitamine E et acné

Vitamin E, a marker of acne severity.

Acne is a very common skin issue that affects many people, from adolescence into adulthood. While this skin condition is primarily found in individuals with oily skin, it can affect all skin types. It is sometimes said that vitamin E can alleviate acne, but did you know it can also serve as an indicator of its severity? Find more explanations in this article.

Summary
Published April 16, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 6 min read

Vitamin E and Acne: What is the Connection?

Acne is the primary reason for dermatological consultations. Affecting 80% of teenagers and young adults, it is characterized by the presence of red or white pimples on the face, neck, back, or chest. While acne is often associated with hyperseborrhea, meaning an overproduction of sebum, it can also result from dyseborrhea. Dyseborrhea is a change in the composition and quality of the sebum, found almost exclusively in patients suffering from acne. On average, in an adult without skin problems, sebum is normally composed of 57.5% triglycerides, 26% wax esters, 12% squalene, 3% cholesterol esters, 1.5% cholesterol, and a very small amount of vitamin E.

Several studies have shown that the plasma concentration of vitamin E is lower in patients with acne than in individuals without this skin condition. Notably, a study conducted by KALKAN and his team in 2013 can be cited. On average, the 94 patients with acne had a plasma concentration of vitamin E of 7.88 mg/L ± 3.00, compared to 11.06 mg/L ± 3.08 in the 46 healthy individuals. Furthermore, it has been suggested that the plasma concentration of vitamin E is correlated with the severity of acne. This hypothesis has been particularly confirmed by the results obtained by ABDUL-RAZZAK and his team in 2006, as presented in the table below.

Healthy Individuals (100)Patients with mild acne (30)Patients with moderate acne (45)Patients with severe acne (25)
Plasma concentration of vitamin E (mg/L)5.9 ± 1.45.9 ± 1.75.7 ± 2.34.1 ± 1.4

These results can be explained by the antioxidant effects of Vitamin E. Indeed, this active ingredient protects sebum from oxidative stress and, through a donation of hydrogen, inhibits the oxidation of squalene by free radicals, resulting in the formation of squalene peroxide. This is a comedogenic compound, meaning it promotes the occurrence of comedones. Furthermore, squalene peroxide stimulates the proliferation of HaCaT keratinocytes, a factor that exacerbates acne. Indeed, hyperkeratinization can lead to an accumulation of dead cells on the skin's surface, a phenomenon that can clog pores. Finally, in vitro studies have shown that squalene peroxide is involved in various inflammatory processes. Acne is intrinsically linked to these processes and results from the inflammation of the hair follicle.

Vitamin E can thus be considered a marker of acne severity: individuals suffering from this dermatosis present plasma concentrations of this active ingredient that are lower.

Vitamin E supplementation to improve acne?

If we consider the vitamin E as a marker of acne severity, it would seem logical that supplementation with this active ingredient could improve the skin's condition. Rarely studied on its own, several scientists have taken an interest in its combination with other active ingredients. These studies, detailed below, have shown encouraging results for people suffering from acne. However, it is not possible to attribute these entirely to the action of vitamin E, nor to quantify this latter.

StudyCombination of Active IngredientsNumber of patientsDuration of the StudyResults
MICHAËLSSON & EDQVIST (1984)Vitamin E, Selenium893 monthsSignificant reduction in the number of comedones and inflammatory lesions
KIMBERLY CO & et al. (2017)Vitamin E, lactoferrin, zinc1683 monthsSignificant reduction in the number of comedones, inflammatory lesions, and sebum production
POTENZA & al. (2018)Vitamin E, biotin, probiotic, zinc, nicotinamideNot disclosed3 monthsSignificant reduction in the number of comedones and inflammatory lesions

Sources

  • MICHAËLSSON G. & EDQVIST L. Erythrocyte glutathione peroxidase activity in acne vulgaris and the effect of selenium and vitamin E treatment. Acta Dermato-venereologica (1984).

  • ABDUL-RAZZAK K. & et al. Does the plasma level of vitamins A and E impact the condition of acne?Clinical and Experimental Dermatology (2006).

  • PICARDO M. & others. Lipid Mediators in Skin Inflammation: Updates and Current Perspectives. Mediators of Inflammation (2010).

  • KALKAN G. & al. Assessment of serum vitamins A and E and zinc levels in relation to the severity of acne vulgaris. Cutaneous and Ocular Toxicology (2013).

  • KIMBERLY CO J. & al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial to ascertain the effectiveness and safety of lactoferrin combined with vitamin E and zinc as an oral treatment for mild to moderate acne vulgaris. International Journal of Dermatology (2017).

  • POTENZA T. & al. Novel combination for the treatment of acne differentiated based on gender: a new step towards personalized treatment. Italian Journal of Dermatology and Venereology (2018).

  • CHAPAS A. & al. Evaluating Common Ingredients Found in Dietary Acne Supplements: An Evidence-Based Review. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology (2024).

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