How many times have you heard about fatty acids? And omega-3 and omega-6? Millions?
So, it won't be a mystery to you that omega fatty acids are essential for maintaining good health, but also - and here we will delve deeper - that the benefits of applying them topically to the skin have been proven.
In this post, we will dive into the multiple properties of fatty acids, their role in skin health, and how incorporating them into your beauty routine will provide your skin with the nutrients it needs to look healthier and achieve that desired glow.
What are fatty acids and what are they used for?
Fatty acids are long hydrocarbon chains with a terminal carboxyl group (-COOH); they are the structural units of lipids, which we commonly know as fats. Fatty acids are classified as saturated or unsaturated depending on whether or not they have a double bond. Fatty acids with a single double bond in their structure are monounsaturated fatty acids, while those with more than one double bond are polyunsaturated.
Complicated? Let's not worry!
What is important to remember is that fatty acids are the main component of the cell membrane, the layer that surrounds cells, protecting them from the outside and modulating their rigidity, fluidity, and permeability, which are key to their healthy functioning.
What are essential fatty acids?
Well, within the polyunsaturated category, a group of fatty acids that our body is not capable of synthesizing and therefore must be obtained through ingestion and topical application, especially when we seek an effect on skin cells, are particularly important. These are essential fatty acids (EFA).
The skin needs essential fatty acids especially when exposed to stress situations such as sunburn and other processes associated with weakening of the barrier function such as loss of elasticity, dryness, or even itching.
These situations cause a significant release of fatty acids from the cell membranes of the skin cells, so if the supply of fatty acids is increased either through ingestion or topically, their balance in the cell membrane will be restored. This supply will produce an increase in key prostaglandins in mediating anti-inflammatory processes and as a consequence, for example, in reducing redness or swelling.
Omega fatty acids represent a subcategory within unsaturated fatty acids. On the one hand, we have omega-3s, omega-6s, and omega-5s, which are essential and must be obtained through diet, supplements, and topical application; and on the other hand, more residual omega-9s and omega-7s.
They are called omega because of the position of their double bonds at the opposite end to the carboxylic acid. Thus, for example, an omega-3 fatty acid is one that has the first double bond at carbon number 3.
We'll get to the heart of the matter and explain the benefits of each of them and also where you can find them.
Omega-3 fatty acids are 3: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).
They have the ability to repair damaged cell membranes, contributing to healthier skin that is more resistant to internal and external threats.
They contribute to antioxidant action in controlling free radical action generated by UV rays, reducing photo-deterioration induced by sun exposure. Finally, they have a beneficial effect on the immune system and anti-inflammatory properties.
These fatty acids are natural moisturizers, helping to combat dryness and roughness, maintaining proper hydration and preventing skin aging.
Omega-6 fatty acids include linoleic acid (LA), gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid (DGLA), and arachidonic acid (AA).
Omega-6 fatty acids share benefits and properties with omega-3 fatty acids, highlighting their reparative and regenerative power on damaged skin. Specifically, linoleic acid (LA) is the most abundant essential fatty acid in the skin. A deficiency of it can lead to excessive water loss and flaky skin.
There are different studies on the potential beneficial properties of omega-6 fatty acids for acne-prone skin, as a significant decrease in linoleic acid in sebum could contribute to acne formation.
What are omega-9 fatty acids used for?
These monounsaturated fatty acids often go unnoticed, although they have a similar relevance to their closest relatives, omega-3 and omega-6. This may be because they are not essential since the body can synthesize them.
The two most well-known forms of omega-9 are oleic acid and erucic acid. Both share the skin benefits of maintaining hydration, improving skin elasticity, protecting against dryness, and reducing inflammation..
Omega-5 and Omega-7
Much less known, both omega-5 (punicic acid) and omega-7 (palmitoleic acid) are great allies in maintaining healthy and beautiful skin. They share beneficial properties with other omegas and, as we highlighted in our article on the benefits of oils for skincare, punicic acid has a powerful antioxidant effect and promotes the synthesis of keratinocytes, which is crucial in cellular regeneration processes.
Where to find the omegas we need
If it is true that "we are what we eat," you will understand the great need to include a good intake of foods rich in essential fatty acids in our diet, from nuts and avocados to fatty fish or meals rich in sunflower oil.
So far, there are few surprises. But what if we could do a favor to the health of our skin by providing extra omegas topically through their incorporation into our skincare routine?
At UMOA, we firmly believe that to achieve smooth, healthy, and radiant skin, our care should focus on ensuring adequate hydration and nutrition, taking care to maintain the lipid barrier in balance to reduce moisture evaporation and promote proper cellular function.
To achieve this, the incorporation of vegetable oils with high amounts of omega fatty acids into our formulas has been key.
For exemple hemp seed oil has an optimal ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, at a ratio of 3:1, which gives it multiple beneficial properties for skin health, from strengthening the skin barrier to relieving tightness and itching associated with particularly dry skin, reducing the need for medical treatment.
Sacha inchi oil with its high content of omega-3 (>45%), omega-6 (>35%) and a smaller proportion of omega-9, stimulates collagen production, helping to restore skin firmness, prevent cellular aging after sun exposure, and help regulate lipid production in oily skin.
Finally, sesame oil is also very rich in omegas and is considered an essential ingredient in Korean skincare.
These 3 ingredients are present in The Bright Oil 14 formula combined into a single body treatment to restore the proper levels of fatty acids in your skin.
The formula of The Bright Oil combines a total of 14 natural oils, including pomegranate oil which is unique for its richness in punicic acid (omega-5), whose important antioxidant action makes it a great ally for anti-aging treatments. Among others avocado oil, olive oil and rosehip oil are also included in this list.
All of these are just some of the many ingredients rich in omegas, important allies for beautiful and radiant skin. So make sure to include elements containing them in your daily diet and beauty routine to give your skin the nutrients it needs to always look and feel great.