What Is Tocopheryl Acetate?

Dawn Green

Tochopheryl acetate is a chemical compound that is created from the esterification of tocopherol, or Vitamin E, and acetic acid. It is used in a variety of personal care and hygiene products. Tochopheryl acetate is both a skin conditioning agent and an antioxidant, and it offers protection from the sun’s harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays when used as part of an external application of cosmetic lotions, sprays or creams. It also can be taken in the form of a vitamin supplement.

Wheat germ contains tocopheryl acetate.
Wheat germ contains tocopheryl acetate.

Also called vitamin E acetate, it can be found in milk, wheat germ oil and even some plant leaves. It also is present in a variety of vegetable oils, including safflower, corn, soybean, cottonseed and sunflower oils. Other natural sources for this fat-soluble vitamin include yellow vegetables, leafy green vegetables and unprocessed cereals, grains and nuts.

Safflower oil, from the safflower plant, contains tocopheryl acetate.
Safflower oil, from the safflower plant, contains tocopheryl acetate.

This vitamin can be safely extracted from several edible oils through processes such as vacuum distillation or synthesis. The manner of production that is used for extracting or creating tocopheryl acetate will generally be determined by its intended use. Water-soluble forms of this vitamin are commonly found in cosmetic products, both for their moisturizing qualities and to help preserve the actual cosmetic product. For dietary supplements, extractions from edible vegetable oils are often used.

When used as a dietary supplement, tocopheryl acetate helps protect cells against free radical damage. It also helps protect the body from the loss of vitamin A and vitamin C while promoting increased muscular development. An adequate supply of tocopherol helps to prevent anemia. When the body suffers a deficiency in tocopherol, the nervous system might display numerous symptoms, including minor changes in musculature and issues with coordination.

Tocopherol and esters of tocopherol are commonly used in beauty applications such as lotions, creams, soaps and cosmetic products, among others, because of their effectiveness as skin conditioning agents and their antioxidant qualities. Many of the signs of aging and skin damage that people commonly suffer from are believed to result from free radicals. These alter natural skin oils and dampen the production of collagen. Vitamin E helps combat this by protecting collagen levels. For this reason, it is believed that the regular use of products that contain significant amounts of tocopheryl acetate can result in fewer wrinkles and firmer skin.

There are potential side effects from using tocopheryl acetate. Although some regulatory agencies have deemed it safe for use in personal care products and cosmetics, several studies have determined tocopheryl acetate to be a potential cause for contact dermatitis when used in cosmetic applications. For some people, products that contain this chemical compound might cause adverse effects such as itching and hives.

Tocopheryl acetate may be taken in the form of a vitamin supplement.
Tocopheryl acetate may be taken in the form of a vitamin supplement.

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