Pick up any skin cream or moisturizer and take a look at the ingredients. Depending on the product, there’s likely a lengthy list of multisyllable compounds, some easier to pronounce than others. The one you’re looking for is alpha-tocopheryl acetate—sometimes abbreviated simply as ATA or tocopherol. If you can’t find it on the list, you might want to put the product down and move on. Here’s why.
While it might sound like a complex chemical or volatile compound, alpha-tocopheryl acetate has a much simpler name you’re probably familiar with: Vitamin E. In fact, vitamin E goes by many names depending on the product it’s included in—chiefly because there are eight different compounds that make up the vitamin E family. Alpha-tocopheryl acetate is the one that’s most-often found in skincare products.
Why is alpha-tocopheryl acetate so important?
People have different skincare regimens, but the purpose is always the same: to maintain clear, healthy skin. Tocopherol is one of the most powerful ingredients for helping you achieve the results you want to see from your daily moisturizing routine. It does this by fighting against free radical damage.
Our skin is at the mercy of free radicals each and every day. These unstable oxygen molecules are created by everything from pollution, to stress, to genetic factors beyond our control. Free radicals attack other cells in our bodies, scavenging for electrons to restabilize them at the expense of causing other cellular damage. Antioxidants are the key to fighting back against free radicals, and vitamin E is one of the most powerful antioxidants out there.
As alpha-tocopheryl acetate, we’re able to enjoy the nourishing benefits of vitamin E on our skin, where oxidative stress is most prevalent and visible. Vitamin E and other antioxidants have an abundance of extra electrons, which they donate to free radicals to stabilize them. As you apply skin cream with ATA, you’re providing your skin with a first line of defense against oxidative stress.
The effects of oxidative stress on the skin
What does oxidative stress look like? It can manifest different in each person, but it generally appears as all of those imperfections we associate with aging skin:
- Fine lines, crows’ feet, wrinkles and age lines
- Age spots and areas of differing skin pigmentation
- Loss of skin elasticity and sagging areas of skin
- Dullness of pigmentation or a loss of shine
- Larger, more prominent pores
What do all of these things have in common? They’re all advertised conditions that skin creams, serums, moisturizers and other skincare products target! And while there are many formulations depending on the products and brand, there’s a good chance that the most effective ones have ATA as an ingredient. Thanks to powerful antioxidant properties, these products are able to fight back against the free radicals directly responsible for oxidative stress on the skin.
Give your skin a fighting chance against free radicals
Beyond buying skincare products with tocopherol as an active ingredient, it’s a smart idea to make sure you’re using them effectively. Here are a few tips for maximizing the healing benefits of a great skincare regiment, and what you can do to restore a youthful appearance to your skin.
- Always thoroughly cleanse your skin before moisturizing, to release trapped irritants.
- Use skincare products formulated specifically for your skin (oily, dry, combination).
- Complement your skincare routine with a balanced, antioxidant-rich diet.
- Look for products that have an SPF rating; UV light can be incredibly damaging!
- Wash pillow cases and bedsheets regularly to get rid of oil buildups and dead skin cells.
A youthful skin care regimen starts with effective products, but is made even better with careful application. Follow these tips and get to know more about alpha-tocopheryl acetate when it comes to protecting against free radicals and oxidative stress.
Look for skincare products with alpha-tocopherol acetate
The whole purpose of a daily skincare regimen is to take care of your skin, to keep it looking youthful and healthy for longer. If you’re going to devote the time to moisturize and treat signs of aging, make sure you’re using products that are actually effective! The trick is simple: scan the label and make sure it includes alpha-tocopheryl acetate, ATA or tocopherol. Most often, it’ll be one of the first ingredients.
This isn’t to say that skincare products that lack alpha-tocopheryl acetate are bad! In fact, there are plenty of great skincare products that don’t have ATA among their ingredients. Vitamin E isn’t the only antioxidant. It is, however, the most powerful. When it comes to getting the best bang for your buck and results you can see from your skincare routine, it’s hard to beat vitamin E.
†These statements have not been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent disease.