Vitamin E
Credit: Getty Images

If you've been moseying around for the missing piece to your ultimate skincare regimen, then take note — your search might be over. That's because vitamin E and all of its skin-restoring properties might just be the long lost product your bathroom countertop (and your face) has been missing.

So why is this particular ingredient called out on so many product labels? And what exactly does vitamin E do for the health and appearance of your skin? To help you shop smarter (and build a thorough skincare routine) we reached out to a dermatologist to find out everything you need to know about vitamin E.

What Is Vitamin E?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), fat-soluble vitamin E not only helps your immune system fight off bacteria and viruses, but it also acts as an antioxidant to protect cells that are damaged by icky free radicals like air pollution, cigarette smoke and ultraviolet light from the sun.

So, It's Good for My Skin?

You bet. In fact, while vitamin E is working to neutralize free radical damage to protect skin from UV light exposure, it is also brightening and evening out skin tone, says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.

"It is an oil-based vitamin, so it is particularly useful in treating dry and aging skin," he says. Another reason you see it called out on so many moisturizer and face oil bottles.

Do I Take a Supplement or Apply Topically?

Zeichner says that while vitamin E supplements "may help improve the body’s stores of antioxidants," when we're talking about skincare, this is one nutrient you'll want to apply topically.

Look for vitamin E serums that are paired with vitamin C, Zeichner says, because the two work better together. In fact, a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology showed just that — the combination of topical vitamins C and E proved to better thwart the effects of free radicals when used together, rather than flying solo.

VIDEO: Beauty Now: Facial Acupuncture

Any Reasons I Should Skip It?

If you have oily or acne-prone skin, Zeichner says you'll want to skip applying vitamin E topically and instead stick to a topical vitamin C product, as the nutrient is water-soluble and should not cause acne breakouts. He recommends L'Oréal Paris RevitaLift Derm Intensives Vitamin C Serum.

If you are interested in what vitamin E supplements can do, then, as always, you'll want to check with your doctor before taking one.