The Goodness Of Omega Fatty Acids In Your Skincare

We all know the benefits of using plant-based oils in skincare, but choosing the right oil to get the best results for your skin can be a little overwhelming!

One of the key factors to consider when choosing an oil is its fatty acid profile. Let's do a basic dive into this (without getting too scientific!) and explore some examples.  

Linoleic vs Oleic acid

Fatty acids (aka Omegas) make up the composition of oils. In the interest of skincare products, there are two key fatty acids that are important to consider; linoleic acid (Omega-6) and oleic acid (Omega-9).

Research has found that people who suffer from acne and breakouts are more likely to have lower levels of linoleic acid in their natural skin oil (sebum).

Topical application of oils that are high in linoleic acid, therefore, can actually help to harmonise the imbalance of linoleic vs oleic acid levels in the skin, thus preventing further breakouts. 

Choosing a suitable oil that's perfect for your skin type can really work wonders on your complexion and help to address specific concerns. 

So, to put it in simple terms without getting lost down a scientific rabbit hole...

Linoleic acid - great for most skin types, particularly breakout-prone skin

This is an essential fatty acid which your body does not produce on its own, meaning you need to obtain it either from your nutrition or from what you put on your face.

There are many fabulous things linoleic acid can do for your skin;

  • Help protect from environmental stressors (eg pollution, uv rays)
  • Strengthen the skin barrier
  • Help fade dark spots and hyperpigmentation
  • Boost blood circulation
  • Help protect from environmental stressors (eg pollution, uv rays)
  • Harmonise oil production and tackle acne
  • Brighten and even out skintone

Oleic acid - good for dry, mature skin

Oleic acid is a non-essential fatty acid (your body can produce it) and is known to essentially provide incredibly rich moisturisation. We would personally recommend doing a little patch first test if you want to try an oil that is dominated by oleic acid. It can work wonders for some who have intensely dry, flaky skin, however for others it could end up triggering clogged pores and breakouts. 

Linoleic + Oleic acid working together

Most of us have numerous things we'd like to address with our skin, from breakouts to pigmentation, dryness, scars and fine lines all at once. For this reason, it's a good idea to go for an oil treatment that has decent levels of a combination of these fatty acids, with linoleic acid in particular being at the top of your radar - simply because it does wonderful things for most skin conditions!

What are some examples?

Rosehip oil is obtained from the seeds of rosehip. Rosehip oil has generous levels of linoleic acid (and linolenic acid), which are known to be involved in cell regeneration related processes. It is referred to as a dry oil because it absorbs very quickly into the skin. Rosehip oil is most famous for its restorative properties, ie helping to reduce and heal scars, fade pigmentation and boost collagen. Learn more about the skin-loving benefits of Rosehip oil here

Composition: Oleic acid 14-16%, Palmitic acid 3.4-4.4%, Linoleic acid 43 - 46%, α-Linolenic acid 31-34%, Stearic acid 1.5-2.5%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Olive oil is one of the most well-known oils that is very high in oleic acid, ranging from around 65-80%! We personally wouldn't recommend this as a stand-alone ingredient for the face as it's a fairly heavy oil and has the potential to clog your pores, creating a breeding ground for bacteria. That being said, used in small amounts or when it's in small quantities in skincare creams, oils and lotions, it can provide nourishing results. 

Composition: Oleic acid 65-80%, Palmitic acid 7-16%, Linoleic acid 4 - 10.7%, Stearic acid 1- 3%, Myristic acid 1-1.2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Avocado oil is another oil that has a higher level of oleic acid (around 50-60%) making it a fantastic ingredient in creams or oil treatments that are rich in consistency - eg a nourishing, moisturising night cream for mature, dry skin. 

Composition: Oleic acid 55-75.0%, Linoleic acid 9-17%, Palmitic acid 12-20%, Palmitoleic acid 2-10%, Stearic acid 1-2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Prickly Pear Seed Oil is widely known for its high vitamin E and fatty acid profile. It's very high in linoleic acid, with a good helping of oleic acid, so the two in combination can work wonderfully together to promote skin elasticity, restore lacklustre complexions and deliver an intense boost of hydration. Learn more about this magical oil here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Evening Primrose Oil is very rich in linoleic acid, helping to retain moisture within the skin. It's often a go-to oil when it comes to helping soothe compromised skin such as eczema, acne and inflammation. 

Composition: Linoleic acid 72%, γ-Linolenic acid 9%, Oleic acid 8%, Palmitic acid 6%, Stearic acid 2%

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research before you purchase

A quick search online and you'll be able to find out the fatty acid composition on any oil. Look out for linoleic and oleic acid in particular when thinking about your skincare. There are numerous other fatty acids to discuss, but that's for another day!

Remember when it comes to oils, it's also a very good idea to consider the comedogenic rating of the oil to ensure it's not going to clog up your pores.

What are some of your favourite oils that your skin just can't get enough of?

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