Essential fatty acids (EFAs) also known as Omega Fatty Acids, are long-chain polyunsaturated fatty acids derived from linolenic, linoleic and oleic acids. They cannot be produced in the human body and they have to be consumed through our daily dietary intake. EFAs are also been known as vitamin F. They are present in multiple food sources such as fish and shellfish, flaxseed, hemp oil, soya oil, canola oil, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, leafy vegetables, walnuts, sesame seeds, avocados, salmon and albacore tuna. EFAs are essential for the synthesis of tissue lipids, play an important role in the regulation of cholesterol levels and are precursors of prostaglandins (lipids that aid in recovery at sites of tissue damage or infection)
A study in 2008 examined: The association between nutrient intakes and skin aging. Skin-aging appearance was defined as having a wrinkled appearance, senile dryness, and skin atrophy. Higher linoleic acid intakes were associated with a lower likelihood of senile dryness and skin atrophy.
What are LIPIDS?
Your skin is protected by important compounds known as lipids, they work like bricks and mortar, inter-cellular cement that fill gaps between the skin cells. Their role is purely protective, helping to prevent water from escaping from the skin’s tissues, keeping it plump and hydrated.
Oils are lipophilic, which means that they pass through the lipid layer of the skin faster, preventing transdermal water loss (TEWL), plumping and hydrating the skin with moisture more effectively. A healthy lipid barrier prevents dehydration and supports the retention of moisture in the skin.
THE DIFFERENT LIPIDS FOUND IN SKIN
Ceramides 50% - These help to maintain the water permeability of the barrier function
Cholesterol 25% - These keep our skin soft and supple
Fatty acids 10% - Helping to maintain a healthy skin
Ceramides - Applying plant based oils rich in linoleic acid can support the formation of ceramides
- Safflower Oil
- Sunflower Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Borage - linoleic acid + gamma-linoleic acid (GLA)
A decrease in ceramides - through aging, exposure to high or low temperatures - can lead to dry skin and itchiness due to a decrease in the efficacy of the stratum corneum's ability to keep water in pathogens out.
Studies have shown linoleic acid can restore the barrier function and reduce scaling on your skin. One study showed using linoleic acid on people with acne reduced the pustule size by 25% in one month. It can act as an anti-inflammatory, acne reducer, and moisture retainer.
Cholesterol - Phytosterols are plant based form of Cholesterol -
- Sunflower Oil
- Sage Oil
- Safflower Oil
Conjugated linoleic acid (CLA)
- Helps skin retain moisture by boosting ceramide synthesis in skin cells; this fortifies the skin barrier and helps to retain moisture in the skin
- Is a natural ingredient that allows for skin renewal without harsh chemicals or treatments. It allows you to treat all three layers of the skin to create healthy skin from deep down
- Found in safflower oil and yogurt.
Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) an anti inflammatory essential fatty acid. Rejuvenating qualities particularly for sun damaged or mature skin. It is the precursor for potent, short-lived, hormone-like compounds called eicosanoids, which helps modulate normal skin physiologic processes by improving blood flow and reducing inflammation, as well as reducing water loss. Found in Borage Seed Oil, Evening Primrose Oil and Black Current Seed Oil.
Of Fatty Acids can have a number of positive effects on the skin, the most important being, boosting lipid content and the repair of the skin's barrier function. This helps protect delicate skin, improves moisture levels, helps the skin retain it’s own moisture which all leads to improved softness and elasticity. Omegas are particularly beneficial to dry skin, conditions such as eczema and during extreme weather conditions, such as cold and wind, both of which can strip away at the skin's protective lipid barrier.
Omegas 3 + 6 are building blocks of healthy cell membranes. These are polyunsaturated fats and help the skins natural oil barrier - this is critical in keeping the skin hydrated, ‘plump’ and therefore younger in appearance.
Omega 3 fatty acids known as Linolenic - are a type of polyunsaturated fat considered essential for human health because the body cannot manufacture these types of acids. People must obtain omega-3 fatty acids from foods such as fish, nut and plant-based oils, including canola oil and sunflower oils.
Omega 5 - Punicic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid found in Punica granatum (pomegranate) seed oil
Omega 6 fatty acids known as Linoleic - are polyunsaturated fats, essential for human health because the body cannot manufacture them. People must obtain omega-6 fatty acids by consuming foods such as meat, poultry and eggs, as well as nut- and plant-based oils, including canola, corn, soybean, and sunflower oils. LA is found in canola, corn, peanut, safflower, soybean and sunflower oils.
Omega 7 fatty acids known as Palmitoleic a class of unsaturated fatty acids. They’re rare in the plant kingdom and even scarcer in the animal world. The richest source of this incredible fatty acid is Seabuckthorn berry oil. It has the highest Omega-7 potency of any known natural source. It plays and important role in the maintenance of healthy skin, Omega-7s act as an anti-melanogenic agent preventing changes in your skin due being exposed to UV-light.
Omega 9 fatty acids known as Oleic - are from a family of unsaturated fats commonly found in vegetable oils. This monounsaturated fat is described as omega-9 because the double bond is in the ninth position from the omega end. Unlike omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the body can produce omega-9 fatty acids, but they are beneficial when obtained in food. Found in nuts, oils and fruits.
I start with a foundation of the very rare and expensive certified organic Prickly Pear Seed Oil (PPSO), due to it having the highest percentage of essential and non-essential fatty acids compared to all the other botanical oils. PPSO is expensive to produce due to the small amount of available oil in the seeds around 5%. Eight tonnes of seeds are required to produce 1 litre of oil. To this foundation oil I add the following botanical sources of Omega's to Our Hero Product:
- Prick Pear Seed Oil [foundation]
- Borage Seed Oil
- Avocado Seed Oil
- Rosehip Seed Oil
- Hemp Seed Oil
- Pomegranate Seed Oil
- Red Raspberry Seed Oil
- Seabuckthorn Fruit Oil
While formulating certified organic Our Hero Product I choose a blend of oils based on their fatty acid profile as well as other factors notably anti-oxidant levels, vitamin content and other special skin properties: anti-microbial, UV-protective, anti-inflammatory along with their ability to increase micro circulation which delivers more oxygen to the skin, this aids the Serums' ability to penetrate the skin’s layers.
Until next time..
be human | be kind | be you
- Topically applied linoleic acid on acne: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9692305?dopt=AbstractPlus
- Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health - http://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/skin-health/essential-fatty-acids
So good!! I knew about 1 of those oils / serums so it’s so amazing to have this info! I need to expand my useage for sure :)
Wow! So much information! Really appreciate your posts to educate us on having healthy skin! I’ve struggled for a long time and am excited to start trying some new products :) xx
I did not appreciate that fatty acids and omegas are the same thing! thank you for such (another) interesting Blog I knew about prickly pear seed oil but did not understand why is was so expensive thanks again for educating me! Tess