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Linoleic acid is the powerhouse ingredient every skin needs. Why? Because a healthy skin is a happy skin that looks good. And for skin to be healthy, it needs a good barrier function and structures that work properly.  

Our skin cells constantly make and modify fatty acids, such as saturated fatty acids, monounsaturated fatty acids, cholesterol and ceramides which are used for many critical functions 

However… and this is important… they can’t produce essential fatty acids (EFA), which are essential for healthy cell function. That’s the reason we need to supply our bodies with these vital lipids - either through our diet or through applying them directly to our skin. 

Let’s find out more about these crucial ingredients. 

Nêô Sephiri​​

By using specific fatty acids, such as LA and ALA, we can have a big impact on our skin health, appearance and how well it ages

Understanding essential fatty acids and their role in our skin

If we are going to get to grips with how important essential fatty acids are for our skin health, we need to understand a bit of science. Stated simply: 

  • There are two essential fatty acidsLinoleic acid (LA) and alpha-linolenic acid (ALA).  

  • Together, LA and ALA make up vitamin F (F for Fat), which helps to regulate and promote healthy function of our body, brain, heart and, of course, skin.   

  • LA is the ‘parent’ of the omega-6 family of polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFA). Enzymes convert LA into ceramides, as well as the fatty acid called arachidonic acid. It is abundant in dermis and epidermis cell membranes. 

  • ALA is the ‘parent’ of omega-3 PUFAs.It is the precursor to eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), docosapentaenoic acid (DPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). 

  • Both the omega-6 and the omega-3 PUFAs play important roles in skin health. These become the building blocks of cell membranes, structural components of our skin barrier.  

  • They are also precursors to signalling molecules called bioactive lipid mediators, which transmit information between the cells of our bodies. In this way, they influence many critically important cell processes, including inflammation, immunity, and cell proliferation (the formation of new cells) in the layers of the skin 

  • These mediators are produced constantly in response to stimuli such as UV exposure, oxidative stress and injury.  

Still with us? 

Promising research results

A most interesting discovery by scientists is that we are able to influence the fatty-acid pool in our skin cells through our diet or using topical skincare.  

By using specific fatty acids (i.e., LA and ALA here), we can influence the types of bioactive lipid mediators produced, which can have a big impact on our skin health, appearance and how well it ages. 

There’s a lot of research going on into the effects of using fatty acids: 

  • EPA (omega-3 from fish) can reduce skin damage caused by UV exposure from the sun. 
  • Increasing the amount of omega-3 PUFAs in skin cells may contribute to a less-inflammatory environment. 

  • LA may help prevent comedones (pimples) forming in acne. 

  • LA and GLA may soothe skin inflammation symptoms as well as improving wound healing.  

  • LA shows some promising results in promoting hair growth and preventing hair loss. 

Nêô Sephiri​​

10 things Linoleic Acid can do for your skin

First identified almost 100 years agoLinoleic Acid is the most common polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid. It’s also the most abundant fatty acid found in skin epidermis, and it is responsible for many vital skin functions. 

1. A healthy barrier function

An effective, strong skin barrier – an outer layer of lipids (fats) coating the surface of our skin - is the foundation of a healthy skin 

healthy barrier keeps external aggressors like bacteria and irritants like pollution out of our bodies, while keeping water in our skin.  

LA is essential for keeping the skin barrier strong and in good repair. It is the precursor to the ceramide building blocks that fill the gaps between skin cells 

2. It helps with skin hydration

A strong moisture barrier keeps water in the skin, preventing dryness and dehydration, so skin feels moisturised, soft and elastic. 

More importantly, a well-hydrated skin is able to perform its functions more efficiently.  

3. LA is in every skin cell membrane 

In this way, LA influences activity around and through the membrane, as well as helping to communicate and influence many critical cellular processes, including inflammation and cell growth. 
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4. LA helps to reduce inflammation and skin irritation e skincare

Linoleic acid is used to make gamma linolenic acid (GLA) in the body. GLA plays a role in reducing inflammation. 


5. It helps with wound healing 

The process of wound healing includes inflammation, the formation of new cells, and remodellingIt involves the coordinated actions of many cell types communicating and cooperating at the right place at the right time 

Because of their fundamental roles in these processes, EFAs can influence several aspects of the wound healing process.And studies have shown that topical application of linoleic acid improves wound healing.  

6. LA helps to control acne breakouts

Researchers (Bernard, do you want to cite a reference?) have discovered that people who experience acne breakouts have lower-than-average levels of Linoleic Acid in their sebum (skin oil). And because LA is anti-inflammatory, it helps to alleviate acne, and the wounds heal more quickly. As LA keeps the sebum texture fluid and prevents the blocking of pores, acne doesn’t form as easily. 

7. LA boosts skin radiance

Because Linoleic Acid helps to stimulate skin cell turnover, healthy, new cells are brought to the surface of the skin, replacing dead, dull cells. The result: increased skin luminosity, smoothness and a soft texture. 

8. LA helps with hyperpigmentation

Studies have found that Linoleic Acid can cause lightening of dark spots on the skin due to its ability to inhibit excess production of melanin pigmentation by melanocytes. This is aided by cell turnover, which eliminates the old, pigmented skin cells efficiently. 

9. It shows promise in helping with hair growth

In a promising study, researchers have found that applying a linoleic acid-rich oil to the scalp promotes hair growth. They discovered that Linoleic Acid enhanced how hair follicles worked and it had an anti-hair loss effect as well as stimulating the ability to grow more hair. Further research is needed. 

10. It keeps skin youthful

As we age, our body’s production of ceramides, lipids, and fats slows down, and this causes cellular ageing. Keeping our fatty-acid levels topped up improves cellular communication, which can help to slow the process.  

Nêo Sephiri​​

Give your skin some help

If you want to keep your skin healthy, consider supplementing your diet and skincare with a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 oils: 

Good sources of Linoleic Acid

LA is found in plant-based oils, including Kalahari melon oil (link to xx story), hemp seed, evening primrose, sunflower seed, poppy seed, pumpkin, grapeseed and sesame seed, argan and sweet almond. 

The case for Kalahari melon oil 

The pure Kalahari Melon oil used in Nêô Sephiri's Facial Oil has the highest concentration of antioxidant vitamin E of all plant oils. This helps protect its main component, Linoleic Acid. It helps to preserve the oil without the use of additives, and it ensures delivery of unoxidised LA to the skin. 

Good sources of Alpha-Linolenic Acid

 ALA is found in hemp seeds, flax seed, soya beans, walnuts and chia seeds, red meat and dairy 

Who should use linoleic acid?

Essentially, everyone should (LINK to Kalahari Melon oil all your life).  

  • All skin types benefit from a strong and healthy skin barrier and reduced inflammation. 

  • People with dry, dehydrated or acne-prone skin will find the ingredient especially helpful.  

  • Anyone who has irritated and inflamed skin will benefit from the calming, anti-inflammatory action and improved skin barrier. 

  • Linoleic acid is hypoallergenic. It very rarely causes irritation so it can be used even during pregnancy and on baby skin. However, as with anything used on the skin, it is always best to do a patch test before introducing it into your routine.  

  • LA is a great addition to any skincare routine that contains irritating active ingredients such as retinoids (vitamin A), AHAs, and glycolic acid, as well as after cosmetic procedures such as peels and laser, as it soothes and nourishes the skin. 

Last thoughts

Now that you've discovered the incredible benefits of Linoleic Acid for a healthy skin that ages beautifully, we urge you to make a daily dose a lifelong priority. Here's to your skin's health!

Daniela Massenz
Daniela is a seasoned writer and editor who began her career in magazines (working for, among others, South African Psychologies, Shape, Men’s Health, Real Simple, In Style and Elle, as well as contributing to Emirates Woman and International Cosmetique News). Her work has been syndicated internationally and she is known for her research and ability to translate complex concepts into articles that will inform and engage the reader.