Vitamin E for Dark Circles: Does it Work?

Whether it’s from a lack of sleep, seasonal allergies, or good ole genetics, there are a number of factors that contribute to dark circles. Dark circles can be difficult to deal with and even harder to treat. Because the skin under your eyes is so delicate, it’s important to treat the area with extra care.

Vitamin E has been lauded for its anti-aging and skin moisturizing benefits, but is it an effective way to treat dark circles? We investigate.

Benefits of vitamin E

Vitamin E provides moisture and locks in water, resulting in plump and hydrated skin. It’s soothing and has also been shown to decrease skin wrinkle volume, making it a great anti-aging option.

“Powerful antioxidant properties make vitamin E oil effective in fighting off free radicals and reducing UV damage while softening the appearance of hyperpigmentation and wrinkles around the under-eye area,” explains Courtney Rashidi, an in-house licensed aesthetician of Perfect Image.

Vitamin E oil is like a skin care superfood. It’s an all-purpose ingredient that works for the majority of skin types, including dry, mature, and sensitive skin.

Can vitamin E actually treat dark circles?

Although vitamin E does have many skin benefits, there have been very few studies to prove its effectiveness in treating dark circles.

A 2004 study was conducted to test whether a gel containing 2 percent phytonadione, 0.1 percent retinol, and 0.1 percent vitamins C and E was effective in reducing dark under-eye circles and wrinkles of the lower eyelids in adults.

The study found that the topical application of the gel was fairly or moderately effective in reducing dark under-eye circles, especially in cases of hemostasis, in Japanese adults. The gel also helped to decrease wrinkles slightly.

But because the amount of vitamin E in this gel was so small, it’s difficult to discern how effective the vitamin E was in treating under-eye circles, compared with the other ingredients in the gel.

Ways to use vitamin E


The oil in vitamin E capsules, such as the Thorne Ultimate-E supplements, can be effective in protecting against free radicals, deeply moisturizing the skin, and promoting cell regeneration, but the results may vary.

“The oil that’s generally housed inside the capsules we buy aren’t pure vitamin E,” explains Rashidi. “The capsules typically contain carrier oils like soybean oil or glycerin, so while this combination won’t harm you, the benefits may not go any further than just hydrating the skin.”

Additionally, you should be cautious about applying oil from a capsule straight to your skin, especially in the sensitive and thin under-eye area.

“I recommend patch testing or using a very small amount to see how your skin will respond first,” explains Alexia Wambua, a licensed aesthetician and founder of Native Atlas.


When it comes to oils, look for ones that contain 100 percent pure vitamin E and are organic, unscented, and non-synthetic.

“If the oil is combined with other organic components like jojoba or avocado, that’s great too. The added antioxidants will provide even more skin benefits,” explains Rashidi.

You can apply vitamin E oil like DERMA E Vitamin E Skin Oil to your under-eye area. But keep in mind that the area has very thin skin, and you should avoid tugging at or rubbing the area. Patting motions with your ring finger are best.

With any new product, you should do a patch test before applying directly to your eye area.

“If you have sensitive skin, I would recommend using a very small amount and gently patting it into the skin,” says Wambua. “If you are breaking out badly or have an increased amount of redness after using vitamin E, I would recommend to stop using it.”


Look for skin-healthy ingredients like peptides to support collagen production, caffeine to help decrease puffiness, and SPF to prevent sun damage.

“The eye cream should be safe to use for sensitive skin and free of any fragrance,” says Rashidi. “You’ll also want to make sure that the formula is specifically made for the skin around your eyes.”

When applying an eye cream containing vitamin E, like The Body Shop Vitamin E Eye Cream, Avène Soothing Eye Contour Cream, or One Love Organics Vitamin E Eye Balm, follow these steps:

  1. On the under-eye area, use your ring finger to scoop a pea-sized amount of product.
  2. Gently dab small dots under your eyes, starting in the innermost corner and making your way outward.
  3. Pat the cream into your skin, let it absorb for 2 minutes, then continue with the rest of your skin care routine.

“If you are someone whose skin doesn’t react well to retinol, I would recommend trying a vitamin E under-eye cream to help with signs of aging or reducing the appearance of dark circles,” explains Wambua.

Combined with almond oil

According to Rashidi, using vitamin E oil and almond oil together on the under- eye area can help to lighten dark circles and reduce under-eye puffiness, due to the combination of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties that these two oils contain.

“Almond oil also contains retinol and vitamin K, and together with vitamin E, can help keep the delicate skin under your eyes smooth without irritating it,” explains Rashidi.

Almond oil contains vitamin E, so using them together should strengthen the positive benefits of vitamin E.

“Almond oil is also rich in fatty acids that will help hydrate the skin and diminish the appearance of dark circles,” says Wambua. “Additionally, almond oil is UV protective, which is vital for protecting the skin underneath your eyes.”

However, the UV protection offered by almond oil is minimal, so you should still use an SPF product if you’re seeking sun protection.

When not to use Vitamin E

If you’re prone to dermatitis-type reactions, you may want to avoid applying vitamin E in its purest form directly to the under-eye area.

Since the skin here is especially thin and more sensitive, you may experience adverse effects. Also, for those who break out more easily, it could potentially clog pores and cause acne.

The bottom line

Although there are few studies to show that vitamin E oil will help prevent or treat dark circles, it won’t hurt to apply the ingredient to your under-eye area, especially since vitamin E contains antioxidant and hydrating properties.

If you have sensitive skin or are prone to dermatitis, try a patch test before applying vitamin E to your under-eye area.

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