What Are Fatty Acids? And Why Do You Need Them for Your Skin?

You’ve probably heard people rave about the health benefits of omega fatty acids, and they’re right! These fatty acids are critical for our vitality—they improve eye and brain health, support healthy cell membranes, and fight off depression, anxiety, and heart disease. But how do they affect our skin? And should you be using products with fatty acids? Let’s find out.

What are Fatty Acids?

Fatty acids, also known as omega fatty acids, are a type of essential fatty acid (EFA) necessary for keeping our bodies healthy. The fatty acids themselves are chains of hydrocarbons that contain one or more double bonds with carbon atoms. Their bonding determines whether the fatty acid is mono or polyunsaturated. If the fatty acid has one double carbon bond, it’s monounsaturated. If it has more than one double bond, it’s polyunsaturated.

That might sound complicated (and it sort of is), but it becomes a little less so when we think about EFAs in terms of omegas. The most common and beneficial EFAs for our skin and overall health are omega-3, omega-6, and omega-9 fatty acids. Omega-3 and -6 are polyunsaturated, whereas omega-9 is monounsaturated. But their differences don’t end there.

Omega-3 Fatty Acids: There are three essential omega-3s, alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). ALA is what we’ll talk about with skincare since it’s mainly found in plant oils.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids: Omega-6 fatty acids, most commonly seen as linoleic acid (LA), come from plant sources like vegetable oils, nuts, and seeds.

Omega-9 Fatty Acids: Oleic acid is the most common omega-9 fatty acid.

Our bodies don’t produce omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids naturally, so getting them from our diet, supplements, and skincare products is vital.

Benefits of Fatty Acids for Skin

Essential fatty acids are, well, essential for healthy skin. They keep the outermost layer of the skin strong, healthy, smooth, and properly moisturized. Which is why those with essential fatty acid deficiency often suffer from a weakened skin barrier and transepidermal water loss. EFAs help keep water from escaping the skin, which is crucial for preventing dryness and upholding the integrity of the skin barrier.

Research has also found EFAs to help protect the skin from UV rays and signs of skin aging like deep wrinkling, loss of elasticity, and collagen depletion. This is in part due to their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory capabilities.

How to Use Fatty Acids in Your Skincare

While you can reap many benefits of fatty acids through your diet, the research is clear that topical application of these EFAs is an incredibly successful way of delivering their benefits to the skin and, potentially, the rest of the body. And the good news is that nature has supplied us with loads of plant sources of essential fatty acids.

One of the best ways to give your skin an instant drink of moisture and lock in the benefits of fatty acids is through a facial oil that’s naturally full of EFA-rich plant oils. Our Superfood Beauty Oil is brimming with fatty acids that help strengthen the skin barrier, add moisture, boost elasticity, regulate oil production, reduce signs of aging, and help keep skin smooth and well protected.

Fatty Acid Rich Oils in Superfood Beauty Oil:

Watercress Seed Oil - Rich in monounsaturated fatty acids

Abyssinian Oil ­­- Omega-9 erucic acid (50-65%), oleic acid (10-25%), and linoleic acid (7-15%)

Hemp Seed Oil - Linoleic acid (54%), gamma-linolenic acid (3%), alpha-linolenic acid (17%), and stearidonic acid (2%)

Rosehip Seed Oil - Linoleic acid (51%), linolenic acid (19%), and oleic acid (20%)

Pomegranate Seed Oil - Oleic acid (4-6%), linoleic acid (4-7%), omega-5 punicic acid (75-85%)

Olive Oil - Oleic acid (55-83%), linoleic acid (3.5-21%), and palmitic acid (7.5-20%)

Safflower Seed Oil - Linoleic acid (77%), oleic acid (13.75%)

Camellia Seed Oil - Rich in oleic acids (76-81%)

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