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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

minimalist Cleansing Oil DMK Hydroloc Neutrogena Liquid Neutrogena - The Transparent Facial Cleanser Oh K SOS Foaming Cleansing Bar Portia M Marula Skin Oil Quintal Fluido Hidratante Finalizador Antiacne Clairol Beautiful Collection Advanced Gray Solution Matriskin Eye Perimeter 360 Serum Quintal Máscara De Argila Verde moorspa Make-Up Remover Beyer&Söhne Hautcreme+ Trockene Haut Black Opal Pore Perfecting Liquid Foundation PANVEL Sérum Antioxidante Panvel Faces Skincare Pipette Baby Oil (2021) Tracta Vitamina C 10 - Sérum Antioxidante antioxidante hidratante Sallve Aveda Mosscara™ Beauty Pie Super Healthy Skin™ Nourishing Body Polish Herbatint Hair Color Lotil Cream Sandstone Scandinavia Mascara Intense Tracta Sérum Facial Tracta Vitamina C10 Ilcsi Nettle Cleansing Concentrate Maybelline Pure+ Polvo Compacto Nature Republic Collagen Dream 70 Eye Cream Paula's Choice Resist Anti-Aging Replenishing Toner Quintal Fluido Hidratante Finalizador Clareador Adcock Ingram Sbr Repair Bolt Beauty Glow Don’t Shine Hidrabene Creme Antipoluição Anti-Aging Facial Sallve Antioxidante Hidratante it Cosmetics Hello Lashes 5-in-1 Mascara DMK Milk Cleanser Hatch Beauty Nipple + Lip Rescue Balm Hej organic Augenserum Sensitive Hynt Beauty Duet Perfecting Concealer Leo Pharma Nanobase Locobase Repair Cream MATH scientific Hydra Gene Matriskin Eye Perimeter 360 Missha Super Aqua Ultra Hyalron Cleansing Cream O Boticário Sérum De Alta Potência Ácido Kójico Botik Pipette Diaper Rash Cream The Mane Choice Ancient Egyptian Anti-Breakage & Repair Antidote Cuticle Control Control Leave-In Lotion Uniskin Clean Face 01 Honest Beauty Tinted Lip Balm Ilcsi Refreshing Cleansing Concentrate La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo(+) Unifiant Leovard Lip Luster Hyaluronic Acid Lip Serum Protex Healthy Radiant Shower Cream