Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that the sebaceous glands use as a normal component of sebum. Essential fatty acids are required by the body and most people are more familiar with linoleic as omega 6 oil, flaxseed oil, safflower oil, evening primrose oil, or a number of other terms. Essential fatty acids are very powerful anti-inflammatory agents. Subsequently, sebum made with linoleic acid is actually calming to the skin and follicles.
Modern foods have avoided essential fatty acids in favor of "designer" lipids like trans-fatty acids and research has found links suggesting that trans-fats may break down the body's supply of beneficial essential fatty acids. When linoleic acid is not available in the skin, the sebaceous glands produce sebum with oleic acid and this form of sebum is irritating to the skin. It promotes blockage that causes blackheads, whiteheads and acne. Some scientists have suggested that sebum produced with oleic acid is drier, firmer and therefore it promotes blockage within the follicles, such as blackheads and whiteheads.
Due to low consumption of essential fatty acids or high consumption of trans-fats or hereditary factors that frequently involve digestive enzyme issues, some people have systemic deficiency of essential fatty acids and linoleic acid. This condition becomes a driving factor in acne and other skin problems.
Happens that the sebum of people with oily to very oily skin types is high in oleic acid, and as noted above, this can be a problem.
Why oils are necessary? When treating acne, usually people layer many drying and irritating products and moisturizing is needed. Instead of choosing any regular moisturizer, would be a better choice an oil high in linoleic acid to avoid overdrying and to balance skin sebum. Oils are also healthier and cheaper than any other moisturizer and feed the skin with very needed essential nutrients and antioxidants. Also, the oils high in linoleic acid are often the so called "dry oils", which are known to be very light, fast-absorbing and non-comedogenic.
Why jojoba oil is not the answer? I've read in somewhere here and in some other places too, that jojoba oil is the best to use as a moisturizer for oily and acneic skin types because it's the most "similar to sebum". But looking closer at its fatty acid composition, this oil contains almost a 5.0% of linoleic acid and a 11.2% of oleic acid. This is why I've also read in several places that many people had problems with jojoba oil and some other prefer not to use it in their oily skins.
Oils with the right balance of oleic/linoleic acids:
- Hemp Seed Oil: Oleic Acid - 10.71%, Linoleic Acid - 56.48%. This is definitely my favorite oil. It's incredibly softening and moisturizing and I never had any problem with it. Contains some other essential fatty acids but it's especially rich in linoleic acid.
- Evening Primrose Oil: Oleic Acid - 7.0%, Linoleic Acid - 74.2%. Very good for people with very oily and clogging-prone skin types.
- Wheat Germ Oil: Oleic Acid - 12.1%, Linoleic Acid - 58.4%. Not suitable for people with gluten allergies.
- Pomegranate Seed Oil: Oleic Acid - 6.2%, Linoleic Acid - 7.1%. This is the second of my favorite oils, while the fatty acids balance is more suitable for a person with combination/oily skin type, this particular oil is really high in Punicic Acid, which is mostly found in pomegranates. Punicic acid is a polyunsaturated fatty acid or omega-5 fatty acid which is highly antioxidant and skin regenerating and used during the day can control UVA and UVB damage. I love to mix it with hemp oil for use as a day moisturizer.
- Borage Seed Oil: Oleic Acid - 17.9%, Linoleic Acid - 38.8%
Remember that the secret is choosing the right oils with the right balance of fatty acids. Avoiding oils or using constantly oil-free products can cause you problems like an imbalance on skin sebum and also, depriving the skin of so needed essential nutrients. Some of these oils can be used on foods to balance the skin sebum from inside, they're also, very good on treating cholesterol problems.
Hope this helps.
Skintactix: Acne & Essential Fatty Acids
Mountain Rose Herbs: Carrier Oils
Future Derm: Spotlight On: Pomegranate
Edited by millefeuille, 04 July 2011 - 01:21 PM.