Vitamin E For Hair: Benefits, How To Use It In Hair Care & The Best Products
Oils are the workhorses of natural and clean hair care. Their presence is nearly ubiquitous in the market: You can use them in their pure form, but you can also find them infused in practically every product out there—from conditioners to styling creams. One oil in particular stands out for its hair-helping properties: vitamin E oil.
What is vitamin E?
Vitamin E is a lipid-soluble antioxidant, or a molecule that is able to neutralize free radicals in the skin, hair, and body. That said, it has the ability to manage oxidative stress and photoaging for skin and hair. Vitamin E is also revered in the dermatology community for its hydrating abilities, with anecdotal accounts of happy, moisturized skin.
Vitamin E benefits for hair.
"Vitamin E has gained a lot of popularity because of its ability to transform frizzy-dry hair into a more lustrous and shiny mane," says Matrix artistic director and celebrity stylist Nick Stenson. "It is suggested that vitamin E oil can reduce hair loss, improve scalp and hair health and circulation, balance oil production, and enhance shine while creating an external barrier to protect from damage."
In fact, research backs up many of these benefits:
- Reducing hair loss. A recent study found that patients who took a vitamin E supplement experienced significant hair growth1 compared to the placebo group, as much as a 34% increase in thickness.*
- Improve scalp circulation. Some studies have suggested that vitamin E can help enhance overall body circulation.* Circulation has also been linked to healthy hair growth. So many hair experts conclude that by using vitamin E, you may be able to promote scalp circulation.*
- Balance oil on the scalp. Vitamin E is an oil that when used topically can actually help balance the oils you have naturally2. So if your scalp errs on the side of either dry or oily, you may look into using a vitamin E oil to help.
- Improves hair shaft health. Oils, when used correctly, can condition hair2, protect the cuticle, provide antioxidant protection, and so on.
Who should use it?
Short answer? Anyone can use it. However, when used topically, it's more geared toward people who need extra moisture—if your hair is thin or flat, you may want to skip it. "Vitamin E oil is great for highly textured and curly hair or any hair that is naturally dry or dull. If you have fine straight hair that tends to be weighed down easily, you'll want to look for a more lightweight treatment option," Stenson says.
Since curls tend to be more dryness- and breakage-prone, though, vitamin E oil makes a solid treatment for curly hair types in particular: "Vitamin E is great for curls as it can [support] growth, strengthen individual follicles by providing lubrication, and improve elasticity, which is crucial to maintaining healthy, bouncy curls," notes hairstylist Miko Branch, co-founder of natural hair care brand Miss Jessie's.
You also may want to patch-test before applying a vitamin E oil all over your scalp. Says Branch, “While Vitamin E is generally safe for all, those with sensitive scalps may want to avoid direct application, as there is potential for irritation.” In one clinical trial, about a third of participants developed contact dermatitis3 after topically applying vitamin E—so if you have hypersensitive skin, you might want to proceed with caution.
How to use it.
Vitamin E is incredibly versatile in use, from products to supplements. "It’s relatively easy to weave into your routine in a way that’s best suited for you," says Branch. Here are some ways to incorporate the oil into your hair care regimen:
As a scalp treatment.
As mentioned, vitamin E may be able to promote scalp circulation, so applying the oil directly on your scalp (assuming you don't face irritation) can help you reap those healthy hair growth benefits. Simply apply the oil onto thinning areas post-rinse. Bonus points if you throw in a scalp massage, while you're at it.
As a hair mask.
You can also just use a pure vitamin E oil directly on the strands. "An easy and simple way to use it is to apply it to your hair and scalp, distributing evenly, and allowing it to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before you shampoo and condition as normal," Stenson says.
As a supplement.
To hide split ends & flyaways.
While nothing can truly mend split ends, save for a trim, raking an oil through your ends can help minimize their appearance. Apply a vitamin E oil to wet or dry strands to help seal the cuticle and provide extra shine.
You can also use vitamin E oil on dry styles to eliminate pesky flyaways: Simply warm up the oil in your hands before slicking back the hairs. Just make sure not to overdo it on the roots, as they can read greasy. (Unless that's the look you're going for, then by all means.)
Our product recommendations.
If you are interested in incorporating vitamin E into your routine, you can find plenty of products that formulate the antioxidant into it. Below, our favorite picks:
Difeel Sunflower Mega Care Vitamin E Oil Premium Natural Hair Oil
Use this herb-infused vitamin E oil if you have signs of thinning. Not only does it have the famous antioxidant, but it also contains a host of other healthy natural oils, like jojoba and sweet almond. Then it contains other actives like green tea extract and sea buckthorn.
Sunflower Mega Care Vitamin E Oil Premium Natural Hair Oil, Difeel ($2.49)
Via Natural Oil Vitamin E Oil
This concentrated tube gives your hair a potent shot of antioxidants and keratin to help promote growth and reduce breakage. Not to mention, it's a multitasking wonder: Apply it to the cuticles, hands, or chapped spots on your body.
Vitamin E Oil, Via Natural Oil ($4.81)
mindbodygreen grass-fed collagen+
An easy way to improve hair health from the inside is to use a collagen supplement that's infused with other actives to enhance its efficacy. This includes biotin for growth, vitamin C for scalp health, and vitamin E for all the reasons we've listed above. Plus, a few other goodies.
grass-fed collagen+, mindbodygreen (starting at $76)
Carol's Daughter Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend
This brilliantly blended oil combines all of our favorites: castor, black cumin seed, sunflower, and so on. Then it layers in vitamin E for all its hair-helping benefits. It's ideal for damaged and breakage-prone hair.
Goddess Strength 7 Oil Blend, Carol's Daughter ($11.99)
Uma Intensely Nourishing Hair Oil
Miss Jessie's Gloss So Good Natural Hair Oil Spray
Vitamin E is a hair care mainstay, beloved for its moisturizing and balancing properties. Plus, it's a super versatile ingredient, used in a smattering of hair care products and supplements, so there's plenty of room to discover how to work it into your arsenal.
Alexandra Engler is the beauty director at mindbodygreen and host of the beauty podcast Clean Beauty School. Previously, she's held beauty roles at Harper's Bazaar, Marie Claire, SELF, and Cosmopolitan; her byline has appeared in Esquire, Sports Illustrated, and Allure.com. In her current role, she covers all the latest trends in the clean and natural beauty space, as well as lifestyle topics, such as travel. She received her journalism degree from Marquette University, graduating first in the department. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.