Omegas and Fatty Acids

Fatty acids, specifically certain polyunsaturated fatty acids, are crucial to healthy skin function. These essential fatty acids (EFAs) are those that your body can’t synthesize on its own, specifically omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Linolenic acid is the most common omega-3, while linoleic acid is the most common omega-6.

The most complete approach to maintaining bright, healthy-looking skin is to combine a balanced diet with the most effective topical skincare ingredients. Essential fatty acids are necessary components of beautiful, glowing skin, so be sure to include items that contain them in your daily diet and beauty routine to give your skin the nutrients it needs to look and feel its absolute best.

In this article, we introduce a few safe and high quality skincare options with high concentration in fatty acids.

What are fatty acids?

The stratum corneum, the outermost layer of skin, is often described as a brick wall: your skin cells act like bricks, and the mortar is a mixture of sebum, ceramides, and fatty acids.

Fatty acids can be described as long chains of hydrocarbons with a terminal carboxyl group. They may be saturated or unsaturated. The unsaturated category includes the two primary groups of essential fatty acids: omega-3s and omega-6s. Other types of fatty acids such as omega-9s are produced via metabolism within the body, whereas these two types are not and therefore must be obtained through diet, supplements and topical application.

In this part of the skin, the fatty acids decrease trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL), they’re antimicrobial, and they’re anti-inflammatory. If any one of those functions is compromised, your skin barrier will be too.

Fatty acids: key facts

When you ingest omega-6, most of it gets broken down by the liver so not as much makes it to your skin. But if you apply it topically, you’ll get very good penetration into the bloodstream
Skincare ingredients such as ceramides, olive oil and jojoba oil contain fatty acids and can therefore provide gentle moisturization and nourishment that won’t clog pores or irritate the skin
Most people get the essential fatty acids they need through their diet. Omega-3s are found in foods like: edamame, walnuts, squash, sweet potatoes, flaxseeds

What science says about topical fatty acids

In addition to helping maintain the stratum corneum (and therefore keep skin looking healthy and functioning well), there’s some lab evidence that EFAs can reduce the skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Although we’re lacking large-scale trials in humans, research suggests there’s potential for skin-care products rich in omega-3 or omega-6 fatty acids to actually improve the look and feel of your skin: topical application of omega-3 can reduce UV sensitivity, and other research has shown that topical application of linoleic acid could reduce UV-induced hyperpigmentation in Guinea pigs.

Do you need skincare with fatty acids?

Most people get the essential fatty acids they need through their diet. So if your skin is basically healthy, applying them topically isn’t really necessary but there’s no real reason not to give EFA-rich creams and oils a try, especially if you have dry skin or feel like your skin barrier could use some extra attention. In other words, incorporating oils or creams that contain some omega-3 and/or omega-6 fatty acids into your routine could be helpful.

In that case, look for formulas that specifically advertise omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acid content. Plant, nut, and seed oils with high EFA concentrations work too. Sunflower, safflower, evening primrose, rose-hip seed, and flaxseed oils all have particularly high concentrations of linoleic (omega-6) and linolenic (omega-3) acids, with Prickly Pear seed oil winning the fatty acid game by far.

Essential fatty acids are those that cannot be produced by the body, so in order to reap their many benefits, you need to add them to your diet through food and supplements. You can also topically apply fatty acids to your skin to help nourish and moisturize it directly for a more youthful and healthy-looking complexion.

Prickly Pear Seed Oil, the most concentrated oil in fatty acids

Pure Prickly Pear Seed Oil has a high concentration of Tocopherol (Vitamin E – Antioxidants: phenols, flavonoids {particularly quercetin 3-methyl ether}, betaxanthin, and betacyanin), essential fatty acids (Linoleic Acid or Omega 6) and carotenoids. This oil contains more Tocopherol than any other oil available in the beauty care market (almost 150% more Tocopherol than Argan oil for instance).
Tocopherols are molecules with strong antioxidant and free radical scavenging properties.

Prickly Pear Seed Oil is a potent non-greasy treatment (due to its high level of antioxidants and fatty acids) that is easily absorbed by the skin. Good quality Prickly Pear Seed Oil should always be protected from the light to assure the preservation of its unique composition.

Our selection of fatty acids-rich skincare

Sabrah is a pure Prickly Pear Seed Oil of the highest quality, bottled in thick and opaque glass for optimum protection against sunlight and maximum efficacy.

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A blend of organic plant oils (rosehip, avocado, sunflower...) and marine extracts (green and red algae), this fluid serum is full of fatty acids.

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This anti-aging powerhouse features Gotu Kola, a traditional Chinese ingredient extremely rich in linoleic acid and called the "miracle elixir of life".

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Omega-3 fatty acids in food

Omega-3 fatty acids are found in foods, such as fish and flaxseed, and in dietary supplements, such as fish oil.

The three main omega-3 fatty acids are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is found mainly in plant oils such as flaxseed, soybean, and canola oils. DHA and EPA are found in fish and other seafood.

ALA is an essential fatty acid, meaning that your body can’t make it, so you must get it from the foods and beverages you consume. Your body can convert some ALA into EPA and then to DHA, but only in very small amounts. Therefore, getting EPA and DHA from foods (and dietary supplements if you take them) is the only practical way to increase levels of these omega-3 fatty acids in your body.

Omega-3s are important components of the membranes that surround each cell in your body. DHA levels are especially high in retina (eye), brain, and sperm cells. Omega-3s also provide calories to give your body energy and have many functions in your heart, blood vessels, lungs, immune system, and endocrine system (the network of hormone-producing glands).

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