Do Vitamin E Gel Capsules Help Acne Scars?

It’s a myth that vitamin E gel capsules improve acne scars.

Photo: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

It’s the age-old wives’ tale passed down from generation to generation: To smooth away acne scars, crack open a vitamin E capsule and apply the gel to your scars. Even gorgeous celebs with picture-perfect skin have proclaimed vitamin E gel as their acne-scar diminishing secret. The problem is, great-grandma and that Hollywood actress may have beautiful scar-free faces, but that doesn’t mean they have the facts to back up their cosmetic claims. Medical evidence shows that vitamin E capsules actually have little --if any -- positive effect on acne scars.

Vitamin E

When it comes to skin care, antioxidants are all the rage, and that’s what vitamin E is -- an antioxidant that can limit the effects of aging and reduce damage from toxic chemicals and pollutants. Vitamin E is also known for boosting the immune system and helping in the formation of red blood cells. In gel capsule form, vitamin E is intended to be taken orally as a dietary supplement -- not cracked open and applied topically. And let’s get real, if you aren’t going to take a medication or supplement in its original form for its intended purpose, you really shouldn’t be taking it.


Even if your BFF swears by the scar-erasing effects of vitamin E gel capsules, listen to the research. In 1999, The Department of Dermatology and Cutaneous Surgery at the University of Miami put vitamin E ointment to the test on patients with surgery scars. The results were resounding: For 90 percent of the participants, topical vitamin E either had no effect on the scar or it actually made the scar worse.

Side Effects

If the risk of actually worsening your embarrassing acne scars isn’t enough to convince you to leave the gel inside the vitamin E capsule, consider this: 33 percent of the participants in the Miami study developed contact dermatitis from the ointment. This skin inflammation can present in many ways, including redness, swelling, itching and even blistering. Yuck!


While vitamin E won’t eliminate those acne scars, ointments containing other vitamins just might. Look for a scar-reducing serum with vitamin C, vitamin A -- sometimes listed as retinol -- and glycolic acid. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends this combination of ingredients because they help the body produce new collagen, which plumps up your skin. With a scar-reducer containing this winning combination, make your scar-treatment time your moment of Zen for the day: Massage in the cream for 30 seconds to help soften the scar and relax your mind and body.

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