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INCI of cosmetics, you know what you are applying on skin Part 10, tocopherol

INCI of cosmetics, you know what you are applying on skin Part 10, tocopherol

September 02, 2018
Tocopherol or vitamin E is used in cosmetics, including organic formulations, to preserve the product, protect the skin from free radicals and sun damages and to moisturize it
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Why is it so important to know what we are applying on face and body in the form of creams, serums or lotions? Because our skin can react to some substances contained in cosmetics and may become oily, irritated, or also dry and wrinkled. Sometimes, however, some ingredients are not only irritating to the skin but can become harmful to the body because they can interfere with the endocrine system and are associated, in some cases, with a higher risk of developing certain types of cancer as we have seen in previous posts dedicated to INCI. The INCI is the label that appears in the packaging of cosmetics and lists all the ingredients used in the formula. Learning to read INCI can help us to understand if a certain cosmetic product is really beneficial for our beauty as it promises or it could cause damages. Today we see a new ingredient that you can read in INCI, the tocopherol.


Tocopherol, or vitamin E, is a vitamin with a high antioxidant power. In INCI it appears with the name Tocopherol and is used in cosmetics, in quantities between 0.01% and 0.1%, to prevent the oily part of the cosmetic product from going rancid and to protect the formulation from oxidation (Keen et al, Indian Dermatology online journal, 2016). But tocopherol isn’t just able to preserve the product, thanks to its action against free radicals it also helps the skin to fight aging processes, protects it from damages caused by sunlight, is emollient and moisturizing, for this reason it can also appear in cosmetics in order to prevent or reduce wrinkles. In this case, however, another form of vitamin E is used, the Tocopheryl Acetate, which is characterized by the same interesting cosmetic properties but is less antioxidant than tocopherol. As for the healing power that is often connected to tocopherol, it has not been proven by scientific studies. In particular, the scientists haven’t observed any improvement in wounds and scars after the topical application of vitamin E. In addition to this, the studies have shown also that at high doses patients developed dermatitis (Baumann et al, Dermatol Surg, 1999). Therefore, tocopherol is definitely a useful ingredient to preserve the products and to moisturize the skin but not as a healing agent and it may also be included in natural and DIY cosmetic formulations.

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