What You Need to Know About Linoleic Acid and Your Skin

  • Linoleic acid is one of two essential fatty acids from which vitamin F is produced.
  • Naturally occurring omega-6 fatty acids are found in many foods, as well as in essential oils such as rosehip, chia, and argan oils.
  • Linoleic acid can help moisturize the skin and restore the skin’s barrier.

You have to give it to the skin – it’s very smart. Our skin cells naturally contain ingredients like fatty acids, vitamins and collagen to keep them healthy and elastic. Skincare can be just as smart, relying on ingredients to mimic all the good stuff we already produce naturally.

Linoleic acid is one of those skin care ingredients—it’s found in the skin, in many foods like salmon and nuts, and it’s purposefully added to skin care products. More on linoleic acid and its effects on skin in the future.

What is linoleic acid?

“Linoleic acid, also known as vitamin F, is an omega-6 fatty acid that occurs naturally in the skin barrier,” board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, told POPSUGAR. Like the fatty acids in salmon and walnuts, linoleic acid is a good fat that helps your body produce ceramides (which keep you hydrated) and prostaglandins (which control inflammation).

What does linoleic acid do to the skin?

“Linoleic acid strengthens the skin barrier by retaining moisture and cushioning the skin while preventing irritants,” says Dr. Engelman. “This will increase the elasticity and fullness of the skin, resulting in a visibly softer and brighter appearance.” When the skin’s barrier is strong and healthy, it is more able to protect itself from harmful UV rays and air pollutants, which lead to aging. This is not what all linoleic acid can do. “Not only is it beneficial for moisturizing skin, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that help reduce acne breakouts in oily skin.”

What type of products is linoleic acid in?

Linoleic acid is found in many vegetable oils, such as sunflower, hemp, grapeseed, argan, evening primrose, and cactus. “Products that contain these vegetable oils are mostly found in topical products like serums and cleansing oils,” says Dr. Engelman. Mutha Face Oil ($110) is rich in seed and evening primrose oils to hydrate, brighten and soothe skin. Eminence Organic Skin Care Strawberry Rhubarb Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($48) contains grapeseed oil and other natural ingredients to help shrink pores, hydrate and enhance radiance. We also like True Botanicals Pure Radiance Oil ($110) and Drunk Elephant F-Balm Electrolyte Water Mask ($52).

Linoleic acid can also be used on the scalp. “There are even some hair care products that contain linoleic acid, and recent studies have shown signs of improving scalp health,” says Dr. Engelman.

Does linoleic acid have any side effects?

“Topically, there are no known side effects of using linoleic acid, even in pregnant women,” Dr. Engelman said. “However, it does have a thicker and richer feel, which is nice to know before using it.” She also warns that linoleic acid has a short shelf life, and that a formula containing it could wear off in as little as three months. start to fail.

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