When you think of fatty acids, you think about the dozens and dozens of Omega supplements you can find in any Walmart or Costco. However, not only are omega fatty acids good for your health, they can also help boost your beauty as well.
What's the point of fatty acids in my beauty product?
The skin is organized into two main layers, the epidermis and the dermis , each comprised of specialized cell types that contribute to the unique properties of the layer. The epidermis is composed of keratinocytes in varying states of differentiation and primarily serves a barrier function, preventing water loss and invasion by microbes and toxins. The main function of the dermis, which consists mostly of Collagen and elastin, is to provide physical and nutritional support to the epidermis. 1
What do fatty acids do for the skin?
- Omega-3 EFAs comprise less than 2% of total epidermal fatty acids23. Although they do not appreciably accumulate in the skin, n-3 fatty acids serve an important immunomodulatory role 4. Moreover, dietary supplementation can enrich long chain n-3 fatty acids in the epidermis, significantly altering the fatty acid composition and eicosanoid content of the skin.
- Omega-6 (n-6) and omega-3 (n-3) polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFAs) play a critical role in normal skin function and appearance.5
- The omega-6 PUFAs have a particular role in structural integrity and barrier function of the skin.6
- Both omega-6 and omega-3 PUFAs give rise to potent signaling molecules, called eicosanoids, which influence the inflammatory response in skin.7
- Consuming oils rich in n-6 and n-3 fatty acids can alter the fatty acid composition and eicosanoid content of the epidermis.
- Dietary supplementation and topical application of certain omega-3 PUFAs attenuates UV-induced photodamage, extrinsic signs of skin aging, and inflammatory skin response.
- Dietary supplementation with certain omega-6 fatty acids alleviates symptoms associated with skin sensitivity and inflammatory skin disorders
2 Hansen HS, Jensen B. Essential function of linoleic acid esterified in acylglucosylceramide and acylceramide in maintaining the epidermal water permeability barrier. Evidence from feeding studies with oleate, linoleate, arachidonate, columbinate and alpha-linolenate. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1985;834:357-363.
3 Ziboh VA, Miller CC, Cho Y. Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by skin epidermal enzymes: generation of antiinflammatory and antiproliferative metabolites. Am J Clin Nutr. 2000;71:361S-366S
4 McCusker MM, Grant-Kels JM. Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Clin Dermatol. 2010;28:440-451
5 Wertz PW. Epidermal lipids. Semin Dermatol. 1992;11:106-113.
6 Feingold KR. The outer frontier: the importance of lipid metabolism in the skin. J Lipid Res. 2009;50 Suppl:S417-422.