What are Essential Fatty Acids?

Glad you asked! They're called essential fatty acids (EFAs) for the sole reason -- your body needs them! And, since the body doesn't produce EFAs on its own, you can only get them from the foods you eat or from your beauty wares. But, decoding those one-liner blurbs issued by corporate PR cronies can be annoying and well, downright cumbersome. So, here’s the lowdown on why most oils are naturally enriched with EFAs and what they mean for your skin:

What are they?
EFAs (like omega-3, 6, 9, aka oleic, linoleic and linolenic acids) are the key components of healthy cell membranes. These polyunsaturated jibbly bits also help produce the skin's natural oil barrier. They are requisite for keeping skin hydrated, plumper, and frankly ravishing. According to a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, women who consumed the most linoleic acid had the youngest-looking skin among 40-74 year-olds.

How do they work?
EFAs can be real skin care powerhouses. Research suggests that they may not only reduce sun sensitivity in those with photodermatitis, they may also diminish the inflammation associated with acne. Some studies have found that psoriasis treatment that included medication and EFA supplementation was more successful than treatment with medication alone.

Effects on Skin Cells
Youthful skin is full of plump, water-filled cells. A skin cell’s ability to hold water decreases with age. A healthy skin cell has a healthy membrane, which keeps good things in, like water and nutrients, and allows icky waste products to pass out. It’s a fatty acid’s job to keep that cell healthy and its membrane functioning. Not getting enough EFAs results in unstable membranes that cannot keep their buoyant shape, which unsurprisingly leads to saggy, aged skin.

And, oily skins?
Soft, non-oily skin is among the skin types least likely to suffer acne flare-ups. Acne occurs when glands over produce the substances keratin and sebum. They clog skin pores and result in skin infections or as we deem them ‘zits.’ EFAs have a two-fold benefit for acne: 1) they cause healthy cell transference, which helps dissolves the fatty deposits that block pores and cause acne; 2) they work to repair the skin damaged by unsightly blemishes.

Cellulite, too???
There is no quick fix or final answer for getting rid of your cellulite. However, essential fatty acids might help in the battle. There is evidence to suggest that the healthier and more supple your skin cells, the less intense the appearance of cellulite. Consuming plenty of EFAs will give your skin cells more fullness and flexibility, and thereby possibly reducing the appearance of cellulite. 

True anecdote: one of our devoted readers swears she has very little cellulite, since she’s been using oils for over 20 years. Real time words, no marketing lingo, we swear…