All Topics
Associations d'actifs vitamine E

Vitamin E: What are the beneficial active ingredient combinations?

It is common in cosmetics to combine several active ingredients to maximize their benefits. Among the most used in formulation is vitamin E. What are the interesting active ingredient combinations to make with this antioxidant? Find the main possible combinations in this article.

Vitamin E and Vitamin C: A UV-protective synergy.

Also known as ascorbic acid, vitamin C is well-known for its antioxidant properties. Indeed, through an electron donation, this molecule is capable of neutralizing free radicals generated by UV rays, pollution, or tobacco before they can damage cellular constituents and DNA. However, caution is needed: this photoprotection does not make vitamin C a sunscreen in itself. Vitamin E, primarily found in the stratum corneum layer of the skin, possesses similar properties. However, it acts differently: its chemical structure allows it to donate a hydrogen atom, which stabilizes the free radicals. It then becomes a free radical itself but is relatively stable due to its aromatic character. However, vitamin E can no longer act after this.

Several studies have focused on the potential synergy between Vitamin E and Vitamin C, and the results show that their combination canenhance antioxidant protection provided by these molecules. Indeed, Vitamin C, which has a lower redox potential than Vitamin E, can reduce the latter to regenerate its activity. It has also been shown that daily application for four days of a solution containing 15% Vitamin C and 1% Vitamin E can double the protection against actinic erythema compared to the application of either of these vitamins alone. However, it should be noted that the mentioned study was conducted with pigs. It would be interesting if clinical trials with humans could confirm these results.

Vitamin E and Vitamin A: An Effective Combination for Preventing Wrinkles.

More commonly known as retinol, one of its derivatives, Vitamin A is considered one of the most effective cosmetic actives for stimulating cell renewal and compensating for the natural degradation of collagen and elastin. It is therefore particularly used to formulate products aimed at combating skin aging and loss of firmness. However, Vitamin A has two major drawbacks: it can be drying and is therefore not recommended for sensitive skin, and it is subject to oxidation by sunlight. Thus, following sun exposure, Vitamin A can transform into various reactive intermediates that can cause damage to the skin.

Some studies have shown that vitamin E, due to its antioxidant properties, can act as a cofactor to stabilize vitamin A and protect it from sunlight. However, research on this topic is still relatively scarce. More studies are still needed to fully understand and exploit the synergy between vitamin E and vitamin A.

Vitamin E and vegetable oils: a necessity for their preservation.

While it is incorrect to label vitamin E as a preservative, it nonetheless plays a significant role in oily cosmetic formulations. Indeed, most vegetable oils are rich in omega-3s, compounds whose chemical structure includes numerous double bonds. This characteristic makes them susceptible to oxidative degradation, particularly from atmospheric oxygen and UV rays. The oxidation of vegetable oil constituents negatively impacts their cosmetic and organoleptic properties. When rancid, they can become harmful to the skin and comedogenic.

Thanks to its antioxidant properties, vitamin E can combat this phenomenon and help to maintain the quality of vegetable oils. It also acts similarly with sebum by preventing the lipid peroxidation of squalene, one of its major compounds. In doing so, it inhibits its transformation into squalene peroxide, a comedogenic molecule. The vitamin E is thus an ally for oily skin.

Vitamin E and Selenium: Battling Acne.

Selenium is an essential trace element for the body. Mainly located in the kidneys and liver, studies have shown that it stimulates the activity of the immune system and protects cardiovascular function. It is also a good anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Primarily found in raw vegetables, selenium can also be found in dietary supplements.

A study has examined the association of vitamin E/selenium and its effects on acne. 29 patients suffering from this skin condition were asked to take a tablet twice a day containing 0.2 mg of selenium and 10 mg of tocopherols for 12 weeks. At the end of the experiment, the scientists noted a significant reduction in the number and extent of acne lesions in the patients, particularly in those suffering from inflammatory acne. However, the chemical mechanisms explaining the synergy between vitamin E and selenium remain unknown.

A daily intake of selenium exceeding 900 μg can prove to be toxic and may cause gastrointestinal disorders, hair loss, and bad breath.

Vitamin E, Selenium, and Coenzyme Q10: A Combination to Alleviate Psoriasis.

The coenzyme Q10, also known as ubiquinone, is a natural antioxidant found in the body. It is primarily located in the mitochondria where it activates energy production at the cellular level, but it is also found in sebum where it works in synergy with vitamin E to protect its constituents from oxidation. A study conducted with 100 volunteers showed that exposing sebum to UV radiation equivalent to 4 times the minimum erythemal dose (MED), which is the smallest amount of light that can cause a sunburn, reduced the amount of vitamin E by 84.2%, the amount of coenzyme Q10 by 70%, and the amount of squalene by only 13%. The same dose of UV applied in the absence of vitamin E and CoQ10 resulted in a 90% decrease in the amount of squalene.

In addition to its protective effect on sebum, the combination of vitamin E/coenzyme Q10 has shown some potential to improve the quality of life of people suffering from psoriasis. In one study, 58 patients were divided into two groups: the first received a corticosteroid-based treatment accompanied by daily supplementation of coenzyme Q10 (50 mg), vitamin E (50 mg), and selenium (48 μg), while the second group only received corticosteroids. After 35 days, a more significant improvement in the condition of the patients in the first group was observed. It appears that the combination of tested actives could provide real assistance in the daily management of psoriasis symptoms.

Vitamin E, zinc, and lactoferrin: an interesting supplementation for oily skin.

Zinc is a crucial element for the proper functioning of the body and the maintenance of skin health. Naturally present in small amounts in the body, zinc intake is primarily ensured by diet and sometimes by taking dietary supplements. In addition to participating in the development of the body's tissues, this element is involved in the metabolism of certain proteins, lipids, and carbohydrates. Zinc is also one of the most recommended actives for people with combination to oily skin, and it can help combat acne problems. A lesser-known protein, lactoferrin, is one of the components of the immune system and it has antimicrobial and antifungal activity.

In a recent study, 82 acne patients were administered capsules containing lactoferrin (100 mg), vitamin E (7.3 mg), and zinc (5 mg) twice daily. After 12 weeks, the researchers observed a significant improvement in the patients' skin condition, coupled with a decrease in the levels of sebum secreted. Supplementation with vitamin E, zinc, and lactoferrin proved to be relatively effective, although the patients' acne was not entirely eradicated.


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

  • LITTARRU G. & al. Lipophilic antioxidants in human sebum and aging. Free radical research (2002).

  • SHEA C. R. & others. UV photoprotection through the combined use of topical antioxidants vitamin C and vitamin E. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology (2003).

  • BURKE K. E. Interaction of vitamins C and E as superior cosmeceuticals.Dermatology and Therapy (2007).

  • KORKINA L. & al. Clinical and biochemical effects of coenzyme Q10, vitamin E, and selenium supplementation to psoriasis patients. Nutrition (2009).

  • 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).


Understand your skin
and its complex needs.