Good fats are very important for skin health. What are the good fats? The most common ones you have probably ever heard of are the Essential Fatty Acids (EFAs). Let’s learn a bit more about EFAs and the benefits of oils for skin health.
The good fats: omega 3, 6, 7 and 9…
OMEGA 3,6,7, and 9 are considered as “good fats”. You can find good fats in fish oil, but also in polyunsatured and unrefined vegetal oils.
Essential fatty acids: omega 3 and omega 6
The most common good fats you have probably ever heard of are the Essential fatty acids (EFAs). They are fats that we cannot make ourselves. EFAs are essential for skin membrane function, cell division, brain development, immune function, and anti-inflammatory responses. Dry skin, cracked nails, constipation, dry hair, sore joints: all these conditions can have benefits from essential fatty acids. There are two classes of EFAs : Omega 3 (alpha linolenic acid) and Omega 6 (linoleic acid).
Non-essential fatty acids
Then, there are derivatives from EFAs : EPA, DHA (Omega 3 derivatives), and CLA, DGLA and AA (omega 6 derivatives). These derivatives are manufactured by the body from omega 3 and 6 and this is why they are considered as non-essential. Some people with health problems have trouble making their own compounds from the two essential fatty acids. In case of skin conditions, it could be a problem of manufacturing GLA from omega 6. GLA, mostly found in oils, is therefore commonly used for skin disorders like psoriasis or acne to prevent inflammation and help with hormonal imbalances.
They are other fats that we don’t talk too much about although they are also very important for our health: Omega 7, omega 9.
The good fats in proper proportion
It is important to consume all these good fats in proper proportion. If we get too much of one, we become deficient in the other. Most oils don’t have the proper balance and it is advisable to use a combination of different kinds of oils to get the ideal ratio. Most people get plenty of Omega-6 fatty acid but often this is of low quality, for example from food cooked in vegetable oil. It is important to compensate with a higher intake of omega 3 to get the ratio 2:1:1 (2:omega 3, 1:omega 6, 1:omega 9).
The incredible benefits of oils for skin…
The list of oils that are beneficial for skin is very long. Fish oil and polyunsaturated vegetal oils are usually the best choices for your skin health. Most of them shouldn’t be heated to keep their medicinal properties. Here is a selection of the most common oils:
Fish oil usually comes from cold water fish such as salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, and cod liver. It has a high content of omega-3 fatty acids, which have a reputation as potent anti-inflammatory agents. Fish oil is widely believed to help control skin diseases by reducing inflammation. Cod liver oil also contains some vitamin D and A, which are very beneficial nutrients for the skin.
When you choose a fish oil, be sure it has been tested for mercury and other toxins. Please note that fish oil should not be used for cooking and should be stored in the refrigerator.
The fatty acid content will vary by which fish is used. Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 content = 75%; Omega-6 content = 0 ; Saturated fat = 25%.
Almond oil is high in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids and provides naturally occurring vitamins A, B1, B2, B6 and Vitamin E. It is used topically for skin itch, dryness, stretch marks, and has moisturizing properties. Like most oils made from nuts, almond oil is a also a good oil for cooking because of its high smoke point.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 0; Omega-6 fatty acids = 28%; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 65%; Saturated Fat = 7%; Smoke Point = 430 F.
Apricot kernel oil
Apricot kernel oil is made from the pits of apricots. It is often used in skin care products for prematurely aged skin, dry and irritated skin. This oil is smooth and lightweight and is high in vitamin A and minerals.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 0 ; Omega-6 fatty acids = 31% ; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 63%; Saturated Fat = 6%.
Avocado Oil is considered a monounsaturated fat and is only available through a mechanically extracted and refined process. When applied externally on the skin, avocado oil is healing and anti-bacterial.
It also has anti-wrinkle properties, high rate of skin penetration, strong UV absorption properties, and is a hair stimulant.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 0; Omega-6 fatty acids = 18%; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 65%; Saturated Fat = 17%.
Borage oil is commonly used topically for dry and damaged skin and chronic skin disorders such as eczema and atopic dermatitis. This is a good source of the derivative omega-6 fatty acid called GLA and contains twice as much as evening primrose oil.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 0; Omega-6 fatty acids = 60%; GLA = 22%; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 26%; Saturated Fat = 14%.
Evening primrose oil
Evening primrose oil is a rich source of the omega-6 fatty acid GLA, and is also used externally to improve skin elasticity and wrinkles.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 0%; Omega-6 fatty acids = 81%; GLA: 10%; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 9%; Saturated Fat = 10%.
Grapeseed oil is made from the seeds of grapes after the wine is pressed and is stable at high temperature. It is used topically for damaged and stressed tissues because of its regenerating, restructuring, moisturizing properties.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 0; Omega-6 fatty acids = 76%; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 15%; Saturated Fat = 9%.
Naturally, olive oil is packed with anti-aging antioxidants and hydrating squalene, making it superb for hair, skin, and nails. Olive oil works great as an allover treatment for extra-dry skin.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 1%; Omega-6 fatty acids = 7%; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 78%; Saturated Fat = 12%.
Wheat germ oil
Wheat germ oil contains much more omega-6 fatty acid than omega-3 fatty. It is used in skin care products for: dry and cracked skin, eczema, psoriasis, prematurely aged skin, stretch marks, dull complexion, tired and overexerted muscles, sunburn and burns, scars, and poor blood circulation.
Fatty acid content in average: Omega-3 fatty acids = 8%; Omega-6 fatty acids = 53%; Omega- 9 fatty acids = 22%; Saturated Fat = 17%.
Other oils that are beneficial for skin
Hazelnut oil is good for skin elasticity. Its characteristics: threads veins, astringent, toning, fast absorption, useful as base for oily skins, sun filter.
Jojoba oil is used for chapped lips, cuticles, oil or dry skin, psoriasis on scalp, and acne. It is odorless and is a good natural eye make-up remover.
Rose hip oil is used mainly for damaged skin and scars. It is hydrating, moisturizing, nourishing.
Sea Buckthorn oil is used for all skin problems. It is very high in omega 7.
- Meadowfoam seed oil is used for aging skin. It helps shield skin and hair from damaging ultraviolet rays.
Does coconut oil contain good fats too?
Coconut oil does not contain EFAs. This oil contains saturated fats, but most of these are in the form of medium chain triglycerides, short segments of healthy fats too! Coconut oil is the all-in-one natural solution to lots of skin problems. It soothes bug bites, speeds healing, helps with rashes, gets rid of flaking skin, softens and shrinks wrinkles, protects against sun damage, keeps tans longer, acts as an antioxidant to prevent cellular aging, and so much more. It removes makeup easily and even makes the perfect massage oil.
Lots of good fats to choose from!