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Linoleic Acid

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Linoleic acid, or essential fatty acid (EFA) Omega 6, is integral for proper function of the skin barrier. EFAs (Omega 6 and Omega 3) cannot be synthesized by the skin, which is how they’ve earned their “essential” title. Non-essential fatty acids (saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol, and ceramides), while still beneficial, can be synthesized in our body. So, EFAs must be obtained from external sources. EFAs have important roles in both the dermal and epidermal layers of the skin, and therefore maintaining their concentrations has a direct impact on its health and appearance.1

The structure of stratum corneum is like a brick wall. The corneocytes or “bricks” are surrounded by the intercellular lipid lamellae that act like the “mortar” which maintains both integrity and permeability of the skin barrier. 1 Applying linoleic acid topically supports the integrity of this “mortar” and provides excellent anti-inflammatory benefits.2 It’s the major lipid that converts to arachidonic acid in the skin. Arachidonic acid leads to prostaglandin E2, which is an inflammatory modulator.2 This means linoleic is one of the most prized fatty acids for reducing inflammation. In fact, many acne-prone skin types are found to be deficient in linoleic acid.3

[1] Lin TK, Zhong L, Santiago JL. Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils. Int J Mol Sci. 2017;19(1):70. Published 2017 Dec 27. doi:10.3390/ijms19010070
[2] Lio, M.D., P. (2015). Skin barrier benefits of sunflower seed oil. Retrieved 8 February 2020, from
[3] Strauss, John S. (1986/02/01). Essential fatty acids and acne. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 14, 221-225. doi: 10.1016/S0190-9622(86)70025-X


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