Vitamin E is the collective name for a set of eight related tocopherols and tocotrienols, which are fat-soluble vitamins with antioxidant properties. Of these, α-tocopherol has been most studied as it has the highest bioavailability, with the body preferentially absorbing and using this form.
Because the vitamin activity was first identified in 1936 from a dietary fertility factor in rats, it was given the name “tocopherol” from the Greek words “τοκος” [birth], and “φορειν”, [to bear or carry] meaning in sum “to carry a pregnancy,” with the ending “-ol” signifying its status as a chemical alcohol.
In the cosmetics Vitamin E is used as an antioxidant which can protect the cells of the skin against free radicals and at the same time protect the product against oxidation. It is also an effective moisturizing agent and improves the elasticity of the skin. It can be used in skin care products for daily use, but it is particularly useful in sun care products.
(see also Tocopheryl Acetate)