What are Tocopherols and why do we need them?

Posted by Emily van Oosterom on

Tocopherols are a group of fat-soluble compounds that belong to the vitamin E family. They are found in various foods, such as nuts, seeds, and oils, and are commonly used as an ingredient in skincare products. Tocopherols are valued for their antioxidant properties, which help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

Constituents of Tocopherols

Tocopherols are composed of four different isomers: alpha, beta, gamma, and delta. Alpha-tocopherol is the most common form of vitamin E and has the highest antioxidant activity among the isomers. Gamma-tocopherol is the most abundant form of vitamin E in the Western diet, and delta-tocopherol is the least studied of the four isomers.

Processing of Tocopherols

Tocopherols are extracted from natural sources using different methods. One of the most common methods is solvent extraction, where tocopherols are extracted from vegetable oils such as soybean, sunflower, and rapeseed oil. The extracted tocopherols are then purified to obtain a high concentration. Another method is steam distillation, where tocopherols are extracted from plant materials such as wheat germ and corn.

Uses of Tocopherols in Skincare

Tocopherols are commonly used in skincare products as an antioxidant and moisturiser. They help to protect the skin from UV damage, prevent premature ageing, and improve skin texture. Tocopherols are also used in skincare products as a natural preservative, as they help to extend the shelf life of the product.

Benefits of Tocopherols in Skincare

Tocopherols provide several benefits to the skin when used in skincare products. As an antioxidant, tocopherols help to neutralise free radicals that damage the skin and cause premature ageing and help prevent lipid-soluble ingredients from going rancid. They also help to prevent the breakdown of collagen and elastin, which are essential proteins that keep the skin firm and elastic. Tocopherols are known to improve skin hydration and texture, making them an excellent ingredient in moisturisers.


  1. Huang, J., Plassmann, M., & Pórszász, J. (2010). Tocopherols in functional skincare. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 9(1), 72-77.
  2. Kaur, C. D., & Saraf, S. (2010). Tocopherol: the hidden treasure of skincare. Indian dermatology online journal, 1(2), 94.
  3. Thiele, J. J., Traber, M. G., & Tsang, K. (1998). Cross-sectional evaluation of cutaneous antioxidants. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 39(4), 611-618.
  4. Traber, M. G. (2019). Vitamin E. In Present Knowledge in Nutrition (pp. 541-552). Academic Press.

← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment