When we hear "omega fatty acids" we often immediately think of a fish oil supplement, not necessarily skincare products. But these omega fatty acids are a group of unique nutrients that exist between both the health and beauty worlds, with plenty of benefits for your skin and body.
Essential Fatty Acids (EFA’s) or omegas are essential to our wellbeing on an internal and external level. Omegas are vital to the functioning of every cell in our body.
Humans rely entirely on diet or supplements for Omega 3 (derived from Linolenic Acid) and Omega 6 (derived from Linolenic Acid). Omega 9 (derived from Oleic Acid) is necessary yet "non-essential" because the body can manufacture a small amount on its own, although we still benefit from absorbing omega 9 from our diet.
These monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats have anti-inflammatory properties, which are crucial in the prevention of degenerative diseases and premature signs of ageing.
Interestingly, if we look at the internal functioning of the body and how omega 3’s are connected to the endocannabinoid system, we see that endocannabinoids are lipids (fats) made from the cells’ omega 3 and omega 6 content.
Once cells build up a sufficient inventory of these fatty acids, endocannabinoids are created rapidly and as-needed in response to brain activity and stimuli (like stress and exercise).
Omega 3’s and endocannabinoids are totally dependent on each other in a healthy brain and body. This connection can help explain why the noted anxiety and pain relieving effects from regularly ingesting CBD oil (such as the Goodleaf CBD Oil Drops) are similar to the results achieved from receiving adequate omega 3 supplementation over time.
Omega 3, 6, and 9 all play an integral role in the inflammatory response of the skin, as well as the appearance and texture of the skin.
In our recent blog posts, we keep talking about the function of the skin barrier. We know the skin barrier function maintains moisture, softness and elasticity as well as providing a protective mechanism against the entry of disease-causing organisms and harmful bacteria. The stratum corneum, the outermost layer of skin, described as a brick wall: Your skin cells act like bricks, and the mortar is a mixture of sebum, ceramides, and none other than essential fatty acids!
Omegas have a natural affinity for skin ,and in turn help manage the skin barrier function.
In the case of skin health, the benefits from having omegas applied directly to the skin is significant and multiple.
We can literally directly feed the skin with them. Topical application of EFA’s become well absorbed into the epidermal and dermal layers of tissue.
To further improve the absorption, I would suggest regularly (1-2 times/week) exfoliating the skin before the application of omega-rich products.
Omegas can assist with regulating the skins oil production (which helps if you have too much or too little natural oils in your skin), improve hydration, subdue breakouts, improve the appearance of scars, and minimise signs of ageing.
A dry, rough and sun damaged skin will drink up all the omega 3’s applied to it, resulting in a strengthening and soothing effect.
Any skins with irritation resulting from inflammatory skin conditions, such as dermatitis, will also enjoy much relief.
Research has even shown that regularly ingesting certain fish oil supplements may even boost the skin's immunity to UV damage and skin cancer! For instance, a 2005 study published in the International Journal of Pharmaceutics found that topical omega 3 can reduce UV sensitivity in skin cells in a lab setting. Other studies have found similar links between topical omega 3 and a reduction in the signs of photo-ageing.
When we take a closer look at our skincare products, it’s often easy to identify the omega-sourced ingredients. You may recognise the following in some of our Goodleaf skincare products: olive oil, almond oil, shea butter, marula oil, baobab oil, mongongo oil, jojoba oil, and not forgetting the signature hemp seed oil.
Hempseed oil is often referred to as “hemp oil,” and it’s harvested by cold-pressing hemp seeds. Hemp oil is often unrefined. It’s a clear green oil and can have a nutty flavour. It’s different from cannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is an extract of the cannabis plant and utilises hemp flowers and leaves for its production.
Hemp oil has numerous health benefit, especially because it’s so rich in omega 6 and omega 3 fatty acids. It can help to treat inflammatory skin conditions like atopic dermatitis.
Hempseed oil has anti-ageing properties reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and also moderates oil production. In this way it moisturises without clogging the skin.
One of the omega 6 fatty acids that hempseed oil contains is gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), which acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory while simultaneously encouraging skin growth and new cell generation.
Anyone can incorporate hempseed oil products into their skincare routine.
We like ingredients that are good enough to eat, and hempseed oil is definitely one of those!
Essential Fatty Acids are just that. Essential. Ensure your diet has many good sources of them, and choose high quality face and body products to treat your skin to the vital nutrients, antioxidants, and omegas that it requires.
Sarah Daly is a dermal aesthetic therapist and salon owner with over 20 years experience in treating every skin type and skin concern.