Why can’t cosmetic ingredients have simple names? Well sometimes ingredients with complicated names but relatively simple purposes like Tocopheryl Acetate are labeled as such because they are altered by complicated processes to make them better. Of course, making them better ingredients for their designated purpose doesn’t mean they are better for your skin. Sadly, this is the case for Tocopheryl Acetate. So what is it and what does it do?
Tocopheryl Acetate, also known as Vitamin E acetate is, very obviously, a vitamin E additive used in cosmetics. In this form, it combines very skin healthy Vitamin E with acetic acid. Vitamin E is a naturally occurring vitamin. Acetic acid is a naturally occurring acid, most commonly used in vinegar, but together they make something that is not altogether healthy for your skin.
It is not the process used to combine them or the Vitamin E that is the problem, it is the acetic acid. This acid can disinfect your skin, but it can also dry it out. The Vitamin E help to combat this, but it like waging a battle of attrition and we don’t really reap any benefits from it.
You may also know Tocopheryl Acetate as a supplement that you can take orally for better skin health. I’d rather not get into the great debate as to whether supplements actually help anything, but you should be aware that you can take too much of it. If you ingest too much Tocopheryl Acetate, it can impair your body’s natural blood clotting ability and can lead to excessive bleeding. You should avoid taking too much of it in general or any of it before any surgeries.
In cosmetics, Tocopheryl Acetate is commonly used to add Vitamin E to sun screens, skin creams, and a number of skin care products. Typically if it is advertised as having Vitamin E and doesn’t specifically say any other sources, then it is likely Tocopheryl Acetate.
While sun screens use iron oxides or titanium oxides, Tocopheryl Acetate actually has photo-protective properties as well. It can shield your skin from ultraviolet rays from the sun. While many say that it can lower your risk of developing skin cancer, there aren’t any major studies to validate the claim.
This is a tough question to answer. Vitamin E is great for skin, but the acetate acid is not so great for skin. Of course, like many ingredients, it all depends on your skin. As acetate acid is indeed and acid, this means it is corrosive, though only lightly so. Regardless, this can manifest in redness, rashes, and potential other symptoms of allergic reactions.
There are also cases of Tocopheryl Acetate being contaminated with hydroquinone during the manufacturing process. This can not only also be irritating, but it can actually increase sensitivity to sun rays and can have carcinogenic properties.
That said, of all irritating ingredients, this sits on the low end of the scale. If it doesn’t irritate your skin, it can be a huge boon to blocking UV rays. So is it worth the risk? Well, yes. It is actually pretty hard to find sunscreens and sunscreen-like products without it added in, but always do your due diligence to make sure it isn’t contaminated.