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Oleic Acid

Oleic Acid

Also-called-like-this: Omega-9 fatty acid
What-it-does: emollient, emulsifying


A common fatty acid that can be found in lots of plant oils. Its name, "oleic", means derived from olive oil, a plant oil rich in oleic acid, but avocado, macadamia and marula oils, just to name a few, are also oleic rich.

Its chemical structure is monounsaturated, meaning it has one double bond (cis-9) that makes it less kinky than polyunsaturated fatty acids with multiple double bonds. Less kinkiness means that oleic acid and OA-rich oils are a bit thicker and heavier than their LA-rich siblings.

Maybe this thickness is the reason that Oleic acid is considered comedogenic, and if you have acne-prone skin avoid OA-rich plant oils, and choose linoleic acid-rich versions instead.

The thickness of OA also means that OA-rich oils are considered more nourishing and moisturizing than their LA-rich counterparts, and are generally considered to be more suitable for dry, mature skin types. 

As for oleic acid in its free form (and by free we mean that it is not bound up in a triglyceride structure like it is in oils), it mostly serves as an emulsifier or emulsion stabilizer in small amounts in regular cosmetic products. It is also quite well researched and is used in the pharmaceutical industry as a penetration enhancer

Show me some proof

  • Naik, Aarti, et al. "Mechanism of oleic acid-induced skin penetration enhancement in vivo in humans." Journal of controlled release 37.3 (1995): 299-306.
  • Motoyoshi, K. "Enhanced comedo formation in rabbit ear skin by squalene and oleic acid peroxides." British Journal of Dermatology 109.2 (1983): 191-198.
  • Cardoso, C. R., et al. "Oleic acid modulation of the immune response in wound healing: a new approach for skin repair." Immunobiology 216.3 (2011): 409-415.
  • Mack Correa, Mary Catherine, et al. "Molecular interactions of plant oil components with stratum corneum lipids correlate with clinical measures of skin barrier function." Experimental dermatology 23.1 (2014): 39-44.

Products with Oleic Acid

Neutrogena Liquid Neutrogena - The Transparent Facial Cleanser Beyer&Söhne Hautcreme+ Trockene Haut Nature Republic Collagen Dream 70 Eye Cream Paula's Choice Resist Advanced Replenishing Toner Sallve Antioxidante Hidratante La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo(+) Unifiant Atopalm Real Barrier Control T Cleansing Foam Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Vitamin C Bright & Plump Moisturizer Aquation Daily Moisturizing Lotion BIOSSANCE Squalane + Omega Repair Cream Pixi Milky Tonic Skin + Pharmacy Advanced Skin Therapy Healing Gel MooGoo Spf 40 Tinted Face & Body Cream Neulii Bio Water B9 Hydration Serum Paula's Choice Calm Soothing Toner For Normal To Dry Skin Wella Professionals Invigo Nutri-Enrich Mask Eucerin Ph5 Soap-Free Bar Avene Ultra-Light Mineral Lotion Spf 50+ (Face) First Aid Beauty Fab Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate SENTÉ Intensive Bio Complete Cream Lumene Valo Arctic Berry Cocktail Brightening Hydra-Oil Nivea Cellular Radiance Skin Perfecting Fluid SPF15 Paula's Choice Omega+ Complex Moisturizer Avene Light Mineral Lotion Spf 50+ (Face & Body) (Canada) Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Intense Anti-Ageing Cellular Cream Nivea Daily Essentials Tinted Moisturising Day Cream First Aid Beauty Skin Lab Resurfacing Liquid 10% Aha JAN MARINI C-Esta Cleansing Gel First Aid Beauty Fab Skin Lab Retinol Eye Cream With Triple Hyaluronic Acid Blanc & Eclare Serein Silk Cleansing Foam The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + Ha Atopalm Real Barrier Control-T Toner Philosophy Miracle Worker Eye Cream Thalgo Hydra Marine 24H Gel Cream Erasa Xep-30 Naturally Serious Hydra Plumping Mask Peach & Lily Good Skin Day Philosophy When Hope Is Not Enough Facial Replenishing Balm Burt's Bees Renewal Refining Cleanser Peter Thomas Roth Mega Rich Anti Cellular Eye Cream The Ordinary Mineral Uv Filters Spf 30 With Antioxidants Avene Mineral Light Mattifying Sunscreen Lotion Spf 50+ J.One Red Jelly Pack Leaders Mediu Amino Mousture Mask Thalgo Hydra-Marine 24H Eye Fluid Esthederm Adaptasun Strong Sun Dr.magic Cica Barrier Repairing Cream Make P:rem Hydrate Me Micro Tension Cream MISSHA M Signature Real Complete B.B. Cream Spf 25 Pa++