Why You Need Fatty Acids, Inside & Out (Plus The Products You Need To Get It)

You’ve heard of cholesterol, ceramides and essential fatty acids before, whether as part of your diet or your skincare routine. What most people don’t realize is that these three compounds, called lipids, are already present in your skin and actually play a major role in how your skin looks and behaves.

But what are they and how to they work? Here’s a peek into how essential fatty acids work, and how they slow down the skin’s aging process.

Lipids in Your Skin

In a nutshell, lipids are skin’s natural fats. They are essential components of skin and play a crucial role in maintaining the strength of the skin’s protective barrier, which holds moisture, protects the skin from damage and keeps dirt and impurities out. They also aid the skin’s natural repair process. While there are many types of lipids, these three are the most prevalent—and important—for the skin.

Cholesterol —This lipid helps accelerate recovery of the skin’s barrier and improve the appearance of skin elasticity. Visible skin aging is often caused by cholesterol deficiency on the skin. It’s important to note that cholesterol on your skin is different from the cholesterol found in the blood, and having more of it on your skin won’t cause your blood pressure to spike.

Ceramides —This type of lipid is proven to increase the skin’s hydration and barrier function. Ceramide deficiency is the main cause of dry skin.

Fatty acids —Abundant in young, healthy skin, fatty acids help maintain the skin’s lipid balance.

The Role of Topical Lipids

Healthy, youthful skin has an abundance of these naturally occurring lipids. As we age, lipid production declines, and this can result in rough surface texture, uncomfortable tightness, dullness and loss of facial fullness. A compromised skin barrier is also more prone to irritation and water loss. This is why it’s important to counter the effects of lipid loss with a topical treatment.

Related Read: 10 Retinol Creams That Are Worth Every Penny

We know that most omega-3 fatty acids are found in fish, like salmon and mackerel. They’re also found in algae, krill, and certain plants and nut oils. So how do you harvest the potential of those fatty acids for topical treatment? Clearly, fish present the issue of odor as well as potentially high concentrations of mercury, but fish get their omega-3s from algae and plants—problem solved. Lots of topical treatments use plant-based omega-3s for their anti-aging benefits.

Related Read: If You Could Only Have 5 Anti-Aging Products, Let It Be These

How To Add It to Your Routine

In addition to the aging process outlined above, deficiency of essential fatty acids can cause skin problems, such as dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. Counter the effects of lipid loss in two ways: topically or through your diet.

Eat More, Take Supplements:
Include omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. In addition to fish, these essential fatty acids are found in vegetable oils, palm & coconut oils, meat, fish, eggs, dairy, nuts, and seeds. The Charlotte’s Book team also loves Udo’s Blend of Omega 3-6-9 supplements. Walnuts are a great snack and are packed with Omega-3 fatty acids. 

Treat Yourself, Topically:
After you cleanse, tone and apply serum, you can then use a hydrating cream that helps to counter the impact of lipid loss.  Which ones does team CB recommend? SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 is formulated with a 1:2:1 ratio of ceramides, cholesterol and fatty acids, an optimal ratio. Don’t want to replace your moisturizer with this one or add yet another step? Try swapping your morning or night serum for this one: REN Omega 3 Optimum Skin Serum Oil. If you suffer from acne-prone or combination skin, this rose hip seed oil serum is light and nourishing at the same time and helps with anti-aging.

Editor’s Note: Nut oils like Marula and Argan oil are very high in omega fatty acids and naturally occurring antioxidants. Marula oil is very high in Oleic acid, which is mono-unsaturated omega 9. For drier skin, chapped skin, sensitive skin or sun damaged skin – Marula is great. It can also help with redness and to minimize scars. We love Drunk Elephant’s Virgin Marula Oil (which is sourced from Namibia). If Marula is too heavy for you, try Argan. Argan oil can be thought of as Marula’s lighter cousin. It’s much lighter weight and in addition to fatty acids, it has super-high levels of Vitamin E. CB loves Acure’s argan oil or Josie Maran’s.  And of course, don’t forget the sunscreen. Right now we’re loving SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50 and Drunk Elephant’s SPF 30 Umbra Sheer Physical Defense

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Learn the right way to take fish oil from our experts. Also, we think lipids are important, but Irina Shayk thinks papaya powder is essential.

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