Essential Fatty Acids Definition
Hello lovely people! So far we have seen what antioxidants and free radicals are, the benefits of facial oils and a couple of beauty ingredients to stay away from: sodium laureth sulfate and methylisothiazolinone. Now is time to explain what the heck essential fatty acids really are.
We encounter those terms all the time when we’re on the look out for new skincare and wanting ways to really improve our skin, yet we don’t necessarily know what they refer to and how they benefit our skin…
Fatty acids 101
- Let’s talk fat shall we? There are the good/unsaturated fats and the bad/saturated fats.
- Saturated fats increase the blood cholesterol levels which can increase risks of cardiovascular disease. They may also increase risks of type 2 diabetes. Not good.
- Unsaturated fats are necessary to maintain healthy cell membranes.
- Saturated fats are solid at room temperature (found in red meat, cheese, cream, processed foods like cookies etc)
- While unsaturated fats are liquid (most vegetable oils).
For the skin we are focusing on unsaturated fatty acids, more precisely essential unsaturated fatty acids.
Essential fatty acids definition / What are essential fatty acids?
- Essential fatty acid: an unsaturated fatty acid that is essential to human health, but cannot be manufactured by the body.
- “Essential” designates these fatty acids as ones that are not made by the human body, and therefore must be replenished through food. These fatty acids are responsible for regulating cell function. They maintain the integrity of cellular walls, and allow transference of waste and water. This function plays a big part in the health of the skin.
The human body can synthesize and create most of the fats it needs except for 2 types:
- alpha-linolenic acids, commonly referred as omega 3. Omega 3 sooth inflammation, support a healthy heart rate, tame bad cholesterol, lower blood pressure levels, discourage blood clots and clogged arteries, and help prevent diabetes. They also support healthy brain function and boost the immune system.
- and linoleic acids referred as omega 6. Omega 6 help stimulate skin and hair growth, maintain bone health, regulate metabolism, and maintain the reproductive system.
How do essential fatty acids benefit the skin?
- Essential fatty acids benefit our skin by improving its texture and softness.
- How? By keeping skin cells moist and healthy, reducing the amount of water lost through the epidermis (the top layer of skin).
- As we age, our body’s natural ability to retain moisture within cells diminishes. We dry up. Result: loose, wrinkled, saggy skin. So in order to avoid looking like a dry prune, the bottom line is that we need essential fatty acids in our life.
- Essential fatty acids retain water and nutrients, keeping skin hydrated, plumped, and fresh looking.
- A happy skin cell has a healthy membrane, and essential fatty acids’ job is to do just that, keeping cells happy and healthy and its membrane functioning. They are our best ally.
- Essential fatty acids also increase the production of collagen. Collagen is a protein that helps in binding skin cells together making skin fuller and plumper.
Essential fatty acids for acne:
- Essential fatty acids have 3 major benefits for healing acne.
- 1) Because they help healthy cell transference, it helps dissolves the fatty deposits that block pores and cause acne.
- 2) They also work to repair scars and damages cause by pimples and blemishes.
- 3) Omega 3 fatty acids (alpha-linolenic acids) have incredible anti-inflammatory properties which make them well-suited for acne prone skins, as well as for skins suffering from eczema and possibly even psoriasis, both orally and topically.
- Acne being an inflammatory disease it is fondamental to sooth inflammation in order to treat acne.
- Check here the comedogenic rating of vegetable oils
Where to find them
- In most most vegetable oils, most seed oils, soybean oil, flaxseed oil, and sunflower oil. Can be used topically and orally (better to be used unheated). They are a great source of omega 6.
- Foods high in omega 3 fatty acids include flaxseed oil, fish oil, chia seeds, walnuts, fish roe (eggs), fatty fish (salmon, sardines, mackerel), seafood, soybeans, and spinach.
Exception to the rule: Coconut oil. Coconut oil is not an omega 3 nor omega 6 fat. It is solid at room temperature and contains lots of saturated fats. Yet it is an extremely beneficial dietary fat, helping our heart, metabolism and immune system. It is also more stable than olive oil (which should NOT be cooked) so it can be a great and healthy alternative to butter when cooking 😉 If you have an acne prone skin, don’t use it on your face though as it has a high comedogenic rating (more info on that here).
That is it for my explanation and definition of essential fatty acids. Thank you for stopping by, I hope this was helpful.
Essential Fatty Acids Definition