Don't Skip The Vitamin E
Want to feel more in control of what’s going into your products and onto your skin? We feel you. When we started MTU, we were also curious about claims such as “paraben-free” and “preservative-free”, which led us to wonder how many of the ingredients in our products were harmful. DIY Skincare is a great option if you’re concerned about your ingredients, because not only do you get to experience them first-hand, but you learn so much in the process!
In true MTU Style, we learned ALOT about ingredients like parabens– which are preservatives– when we formulated our DIY Deodorant kit, and today we want to share one of the most important lessons we learned with you!
And that lesson is: if you’re into DIY Skincare, get yourself some Vitamin E!
Why to Include Vitamin E in Your Homemade Skincare
Well, like parabens/ preservatives in commercial cosmetics, Vitamin E can be used to “preserve” your oil-based DIY Skincare products! Why did we put “preserve” in quotation marks you may ask? That’s because Vitamin E is technically NOT a preservative!
Although Vitamin E and Parabens have the same end goal (to extend the shelf life of products) the way they work is not the same! Actual preservatives like parabens prevent microbial growth through antimicrobial effects, which is needed in many water-based products. Vitamin E instead prevents oxidation of oils, which is why its called an antioxidant! Keep in mind Vitamin E is NOT an actual preservative and cannot be used as one in products containing water.
Nevertheless we are here to tell you to check for “tocopherol” on the label of your favourite natural skincare products, and certainly look for them in DIY recipe’s you’re curious about trying if you want a long lasting product!
How Vitamin E Can "Preserve" Your DIY Skincare Products
Since skin care products involving water are far more susceptible to microbial growth and require more serious formulation chops, most DIY Skincare recipes you find online will be anhydrous (contain no water) and utilize an oil as a main ingredient.
But, since oils are fats, and since fats start to oxidize when exposed to air, even these simple skincare recipes need to be “preserved” somehow, or they will go rancid over time!
In order to “preserve” oils, you need to prevent this natural oxidation process. Since oxidation is a chemical reaction which produces free radicals, which in turn create a chain reaction that damages the oils, antioxidants are great at preserving the life of oils. Antioxidants like Vitamin E do just what they say they do: they terminate these reactions and therefore prevent oxidation!
Although oxidation may not be an issue for a quickly used product like a face mask, with products that tend to take a few months to use like homemade natural Deodorant, Vitamin E shouldn’t be skipped.
The Different Types of Vitamin E for DIY Skincare
There are two types of Vitamin E. There’s the type you can put on your skin for added benefits (like reducing fine lines), and there’s the type you can add to your DIY Skincare product to increase its shelf-life and stability.
To be sciency about it, where Alpha-tocopherols may be great for your skin, its beta, delta and gamma tocopherols that work well as antioxidants! So, always check with the supplier to ensure you are getting a raw material that is intended for its specific application. Depending on the percentage of oil in your formulation, Vitamin E can be used at around 0.3% - 0.5% to extend the life of your product, as a VERY general rule.
Always check with your supplier to confirm safe usage rates, but whatever you do, don’t skip the Vitamin E!
Hey Everyone, Jessye from MTU here! Shopify doesn’t let me directly respond to comments so hoping you all come back to read my reply:)
To answer some questions: Laurie, the type of Vitamin E you’re looking for (alpha d tocopherol) should be readily available from any reputable cosmetics ingredients supplier. You’re looking for something labelled “full spectrum”, or email the suppliers directly to ask what is appropriate.
For everyone asking about how much volume by weight to use, it depends on the formulation! I would suggest finding similar, openly available formulas that you can get inspired by (you can find many basic formulas on MakingCosmetics.com). OR: email your supplier regarding the suggested usage rates. Most cosmetics suppliers should know the recommended safe ranges. Hiring a cosmetic chemist will solve all these issues to as their trained in this fine art!
Here’s what is listed on my suppliers website, for the Vitamin E we use in our Custom Deodorants and Custom Facial Oils:
“For use in cosmetics, Vitamin E (MT-50 Full-Spectrum) is a natural antioxidant with a full spectrum of tocopherols, which will extend the shelf-life of oils (any product with water in it will require a full-spectrum preservative). Adding 0.5% to a carrier oil will simply extend the life of the oil. To utilize its benefits to the skin, a minimum of 2% to a maximum of 30% is added to the formulation.”
Finally, for Priya who asked about using Vitamin E in a water based product, the answer is a definitive no! Vitamin E will not “preserve” any water based formula, as it is not a preservative. To increase the shelf life of water based products, I suggest hiring a chemist who will do stringent shelf stability testing, and use a full spectrum preservative. Vitamin E is not a preservative!
This is such a useful post, thank you!!! I can’t find the beta, delta, or gamma tocopherol Vitamin E you mention is the appropriate one for retarding spoilage in oil-based skincare products. I’m not sure how to phrase my search, but so far no luck. Any pointers?
Is it okay to use expired Vit E for making lotions
What can I put in place of vitamin e
What preservative can I use in my fragrance oil / homemade and home made body oil I want to sell them
How to increase shelf life of water based products like body spray using essential oil
Can I use vit d powder since it is water soluble in my water based serum?
Fabulous article! Especially the sciency-bit!!
Very useful article
Thanks a lot
How much vitamin E is it by volume??
Even trace amounts of Vitamin E (tocopherols and tocopherol acetate) cause my face to swell up like a balloon! They are so widely used in skincare products that I can’t even fine a sunscreen I can wear, so I generally just go without— not a good solution. Is there something else I can use to get similar results to Vitamin E?
I tried this some time ago and tocopheryl (pure vitamin e. I bought it 100% pure and natural from Dr. Adorable) makes me break out! In fact every single product I’ve used with tocopheryl does this. However tocopheryl acetate does not.
Hello Poorva! Our formula is around 0.3% by weight- you really don’t need much!
I love your content! I wanted to put Vit E in my natural deodorant and wanted to ask – 0.3% – 0.5% by weight or volume? And would it be required in lesser or more quantities in any case?