Linoleic Acid

Linoleic Acid

Also-called-like-this: LA, omega-6 fatty acid, 18:2 cis-9,12, Form of Vitamin F


The famous omega-6 fatty acid, the mother of all ω-6 fatty acids in our body. It is a so-called polyunsaturated fatty acid meaning it has more than one (in this case two) double bonds and a somewhat kinky structure that makes LA and LA-rich oils a thin liquid.

It is also an essential fatty acid meaning our body cannot synthesize it and has to take it from food. This is not hard at all as plenty of nuts (such as flax, poppy or sesame seeds) and vegetable oils (such as sunflower or safflower) are rich in LA. The hard thing seems to be eating enough omega-3-s, more specifically eating a healthy ratio of omega-6 to omega-3, but that is a topic for a what-is-good-to-eat-site and not for us. 

As for linoleic acid and the skin, LA is a really important little guy found naturally in our skin. It is the most abundant fatty acid in the epidermis and it serves as a structural precursor for important skin lipids called ceramides. Knowing this, it will not come as a surprise that Linoleic acid has a central role in the structure and function of stratum corneum permeability, aka healthy skin barrier.  LA deficiency leads to an impaired more permeable skin barrier and the topical application of LA-rich sunflower oil can fix this issue rapidly (while oleic-rich olive oil did not have the same barrier repairing effect).

LA is not only important for dry, barrier damaged skin types but also for acne-prone skin. Research shows that problem skin has lower levels of linoleic acid (and higher levels of oleic acid) than normal skin. So LA-deficiency in the skin seems to be connected not only to an impaired skin barrier but also to acne and smearing LA all over your face might help with your problem skin. A double-blind study using a 2.5% LA gel for 4 weeks found a 25% reduction in the size of microcomedones, the tiny blocked pores that can later lead to acne.

If that was not enough, we have one more thing to report about LA.  It lightens hyperpigmentation (aka UVB caused sun spots) both by blocking the melanin production of melanocytes (the skin cells that make the pigment melanin) and by enhancing the desquamation of melanin pigment from the upper layers of the skin.

Overall, linoleic acid is a multi-functional skin goodie with barrier repairing, acne-reducing, and skin-lightening magic abilities. It's a nice one to spot on the ingredient list pretty much for any skin type. 

Show me some proof

  • McCusker, Meagen M., and Jane M. Grant-Kels. "Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the ω-6 and ω-3 fatty acids." Clinics in Dermatology 28.4 (2010): 440-451.
  • Prottey, C., et al. "The repair of impaired epidermal barrier function in rats by the cutaneous application of linoleic acid." British Journal of Dermatology 94.1 (1976): 13-21.
  • Downing, Donald T., et al. "Essential fatty acids and acne." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 14.2 (1986): 221-225.
  • Letawe, C., M. Boone, and G. E. Pierard. "Digital image analysis of the effect of topically applied linoleic acid on acne microcomedones." Clinical and experimental dermatology 23.2 (1998): 56-58.
  • Elias, Peter M., Barbara E. Brown, and Vincent A. Ziboh. "The permeability barrier in essential fatty acid deficiency: evidence for a direct role for linoleic acid in barrier function." Journal of Investigative Dermatology 74.4 (1980): 230-233.
  • Ando, Hideya, et al. "Linoleic acid and α-linolenic acid lightens ultraviolet-induced hyperpigmentation of the skin." Archives of dermatological research 290.7 (1998): 375-381.

Products with Linoleic Acid

Hema Hello Mirror Guess My Age Facial Oil Dr Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster Paula's Choice Resist Omega+ Complex Serum dr. denese Hydroshield Ultra Moisturizing Face Serum Sante Naturkosmetik Soothing Night Cream Zelens Vitamin A Treatment Drops EltaMD Pm Therapy Facial Moisturizer Su-Man Purifying Cleansing Gel Oil Zelens Provitamin D Treatment Drops Dermosil Anti-Stress Serum Dr Dennis Gross Clinical Concentrate Radiance Booster Atopalm Real Barrier Control T Cleansing Foam BIOSSANCE Squalane + Omega Repair Cream Demarché Labs Smartsync Probiotic Science Balancing Gel Cream Santaderm Emulsie Cu D-Panthenol 9% EltaMD Uv Physical Spf 41 BIOSSANCE Squalane + Probiotic Gel Moisturizer Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Recovery Mask-In-Oil First Aid Beauty Fab Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate First Aid Beauty Fab Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate OLEHENRIKSEN C-Rush™ Brightening Gel Crème Paula's Choice Defense Essential Glow Moisturiser Spf 30 Ester Lauder Victoria Beckham Morning Aura Illuminating Primer Lumene Valo Arctic Berry Cocktail Brightening Hydra-Oil African Botanics Marula Resurrection Cell Recovery Serum Elizabeth Arden Advanced Ceramide Capsules Daily Youth Restoring Serum Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Intensive Recovery Ampoules La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo(+) Unifiant Paula's Choice Calm Redness Relief Toner For Normal To Dry Skin theBalm Timebalm Foundation Dr Dennis Gross Ferulic + Retinol Wrinkle Recovery Overnight Serum Josie Maran Whipped Mud Mask Argan Hydrating And Detoxifying Treatment Medik8 Advanced Night Restore Ole Henriksen Find Your Balance Oil Control Face Wash 111SKIN Celestial Black Diamond Emulsion Drunk Elephant C-Tango Multivitamin Eye Cream Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Extra Mild Clinique Moisture Surge Intense Skin Fortifying Hydrator Paula's Choice Rehydrating Moisture Mask EO LABORATORIE` Био Масло Для Ресниц И Бровей `Eo Laboratorie` `Lovecoil` Superdrug Vitamin E Hot Cloth Cleanser Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Hydrating Treatment Mask Bobbi Brown Hydrating Face Tonic Murad Luminous Shield Spf 50 Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Intense Anti-Ageing Cellular Cream Alpha-H Essential Hydration Cream Paula's Choice Resist Intensive Repair Cream Kiss My Face Face Factor Spf30 Sunscreen Origins High Potency Night-A-Mins Skin Refining Oil