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Oleic Acid

Oleic Acid

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

Official CosIng Information


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 Oh K SOS Foaming Cleansing Bar Portia M Marula Skin Oil Beyer&Söhne Hautcreme+ Trockene Haut Tracta Vitamina C 10 - Sérum Antioxidante antioxidante hidratante Sallve Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin™ Nourishing Body Polish Herbatint Hair Color Nature Republic Collagen Dream 70 Eye Cream Paula's Choice Resist Advanced Replenishing Toner Hidrabene Creme Antipoluição Anti-Aging Facial Sallve Antioxidante Hidratante Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo(+) Unifiant Apostrophe Tretinoin Atopalm Real Barrier Control T Cleansing Foam Clé de Peau Beauté Synactif Soap EVENPRIME Hypernova Eye Serum Glossier Boy Brow Noreva Alpha Km Body Firming Care Peter Thomas Roth Potent-C Vitamin C Bright & Plump Moisturizer Pur Fully Charged Mascara StriVectin Oleic Rapid Recovery Milk Bioderma Photoderm Bronz Huile Sèche Spf 30 Le Mieux Eye And Lip Cream kwailnara / welcos Cleansing Story Pink Clay Deep Cleansing Foam Aquation Daily Moisturizing Lotion BIOSSANCE Squalane + Omega Repair Cream Holifrog Kissimmee Vitamin F Therapy Balmy Wash 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 Sunday Riley ICE Ceramide Moisturizing Cream NIVEA MEN Creme Peter Thomas Roth Camu Camu Power C X 30 Vitamin C Brightening Face Moisturizer Wella Professionals Invigo Nutri-Enrich Mask Eucerin Ph5 Soap-Free Bar Kat Burki Super Nutrient Elixir naturium Retinol Cream 2.5% Bioelements Collagen Rehab Laura Mercier Caviar Volume Panoramic Mascara Avene Ultra-Light Mineral Lotion Spf 50+ (Face) Missha Super Aqua Ultra Hyalon Foaming Cleanser Sun Bum | Canada Face Cream With Spf 50 U Beauty Resurfacing Compound Bite Beauty Agave+ Intensive Lip Mask (Agave) First Aid Beauty Fab Skin Lab Retinol Serum 0.25% Pure Concentrate SENTÉ Intensive Bio Complete Cream