I have been thinking about bringing you closer to the world of natural ingredients that have been proven to work in skincare, and I have decided to create a blog series on the topic of Superfoods for the skin. For a start, I want to introduce you to a great group of ingredients that really make a difference in skin health and balance.
These are omega fatty acids, which are talked and written about a lot, but do you really know how and why omega fatty acids make a difference in skincare?
What are omega fatty acids?
Omega fatty acids are a group of lipid components that are an important part of the cell membrane in the cells of our body, including the skin. The health and natural physiology of each cell depends primarily on the integrity of the cell membrane. In fact, without omega fatty acids, the cell cannot function properly.
Omega fatty acids are divided into two categories: essential fatty acids and non-essential fatty acids. The difference is simple and is as follows:
- Essential fatty acids are best described by the word essential. This is because our bodies cannot produce them independently, so it is "essential" to supply them from the outside.
- Non-essential fatty acids our bodies can and do produce naturally, so supplying them from the outside is just an extra boost.
Because they are a key component of cell membranes in our bodies, omega fatty acids modulate the immune response and are important for brain function and normal growth and development. As for the skin, omega fatty acids are essential for the functioning of the skin barrier.
Essential fatty acids
Essential fatty acids are polyunsaturated fatty acids that our bodies cannot produce themselves and must obtain through food or skin. Essential fatty acids are a vital component of every cell in our body.
When we talk about essential fatty acids, we mean two polyunsaturated fatty acids, linoleic acid (LA) and α-linolenic acid (ALA). Linoleic acid belongs to the omega-6 (ω-6) fatty acid family, while α-linolenic acid belongs to the omega-3 (ω-3) fatty acid family.
Essential fatty acids are a vital component of every cell in our body, but why are they so important for the skin? The answer lies in the biology of the skin. The skin is covered with a lipid film that protects it, prevents the evaporation of moisture and keeps it supple and elastic. This lipid film forms the protective barrier that prevents the entry of harmful microorganisms and bacteria. Essential fatty acids are a component of this lipid film. Their deficiency therefore significantly impairs the skin's barrier function, which you notice first in dehydration, the tendency to inflammation and dryness.
In addition, essential fatty acids stimulate potent signalling molecules called eicosanoids, which influence the inflammatory response in the skin. Omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids have been shown to reduce UV-induced photodamage, external signs of ageing, symptoms associated with skin sensitivity, and inflammatory skin reactions.
Our skin needs omega-3 and -6 more than enough, which becomes more important as we age. We can give them to the body through diet, supplements, skincare products or a combination of all three.
Foods rich in essential fatty acids
Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are:
- Blue fish (sardines, mackerel, tuna, anchovies).
- Fish from cold seas (herring, salmon)
- Seeds (chia, flaxseed)
- Nuts (walnuts)
Ingredients for the skin rich in essential fatty acids.
Skincare products containing essential fatty acids help the skin maintain its protective function and retain moisture in the skin layers.
Longevity, the health of the protective barrier and moisture retention in the skin layers largely depend on essential fatty acids being well absorbed into the layers of the epidermis and dermis. Therefore, skincare products must contain essential fatty acids so that our skin can maintain its vitality and beauty for a long time.
Omega-6 (Linoleic Acid)
Did you know that people prone to acne and inflammation have low levels of linoleic acid and high levels of oleic acid in their sebum (natural skin oil)? It is often pointed out that low levels of linoleic acid in the skin are the leading cause of acne and inflammation. This is the answer to why oils rich in linoleic acid reduce inflammation and acne.
Oils that are rich in linoleic acid are:
- Grapeseed oil
- Passion fruit oil
- Watermelon seed oil
- Sunflower oil
Because of their linoleic acid content, we believe these oils are the ideal choice for a skin cleansing product that cleanses the skin and balances linoleic acid and thus reducing inflammation and strengthening the skin's protective barrier. Find omega-6 rich oils in Matinata re.start cleansing oil.
Omega-3 (α-Linoleic Acid)
Matinata re.glow oil serum contains a balanced synergy of cold- pressed organic oils rich in essential fatty acids, primarily from:
- Chia seed oil
- Watermelon seed oil
- Rosehip oil
- Raspberry seed oil
Non-essential fatty acids
Omega-7 (Palmitoleic acid)
This omega fatty acid is becoming more and more talked about, and for a good reason. Skin loves it very much, as it has been shown to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, stimulate the production of natural collagen, restore skin's firmness and natural glow, help it retain moisture and protect it from free radicals.
The best known and most popular oil rich in omega-7 is sea buckthorn oil, which has a concentration of up to 40% palmitoleic acid. You can find this oil as cold-pressed oil and as a supercritical extract in our re.glow oil serum.
Omega-5 (Punicic Acid)
The name of this acid - punicic acid - is derived from the Latin name of the pomegranate - Punica granatum - as it is mainly extracted from pomegranate seed oil. Almost 80% of the fatty acids in pomegranate seed oil are actually punicic acid.
Due to its potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it protects the skin from premature ageing caused by sun exposure. Furthermore, according to research, pomegranate seed oil stimulates collagen production. Therefore, precisely because of its unique properties, this oil is an essential ingredient of re.glow oil serum, both in the form of cold-pressed oil and the supercritical extract.
Omega-9 (oleic acid)
Omega-9 fatty acids are often referred to at the same time as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. But unlike omega-3 and omega-6, this fatty acid is not "essential" because the body can still produce it. However, it is important to note that the presence and balance of essential fatty acids is crucial for the natural production of omega-9. Oleic acid mimics the skin's natural sebum and is ideal for dry and mature skin. It is easily absorbed and helps the skin retain moisture in its layers.
Matinata re.glow oil serum contains oils rich in oleic acid, such as marula oil and balanced oils, such as apricot kernel oil.
What if we lack omega fatty acids, especially essential fatty acids?
A lack of essential fatty acids can trigger dermatitis and other inflammatory skin conditions. Even mild imbalances, which sometimes go unnoticed, affect the skin's natural ability to regenerate and restore itself. It is important to note that this is one of the skincare ingredients that any skin type will benefit directly from them. They will stimulate more efficient cellular activity, contributing to its immunity, protection, and additional skin hydration. Furthermore, foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids are beneficial in reducing inflammation in rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. So it's really one of those natural ingredients that work on the skin through both food and cleverly formulated natural cosmetics.