Not sure about you, but we’ve been seeing a lot of questions about polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) lately. They’re used in cooking, makeup, and skincare products, and we’ve seen a recent surge in concerns about their effects on our health, and more specifically, our skin.
If you’re feeling confused or overwhelmed re: PUFAs, don’t fret - we’re here to help. Here’s everything we know about these fatty acids, how they work in skincare, and why you absolutely *shouldn’t* be afraid to use them. Let’s get into it!
wait, what exactly is a PUFA?
There are three types of fatty acids - monounsaturated fatty acids, saturated fatty acids, and polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). PUFAs are liquid at room temperature and low in hydrogen atoms.
PUFAs you may be familiar with include sunflower oil, rosehip oil, or grapeseed oil.
so, why are people wary of them?
PUFAs contain more double bonds than saturated fatty acids or monosaturated fatty acids do, which can make them more reactive and more susceptible to oxidation - that’s why many fear using them in skincare. However, most PUFAs (and absolutely all of the ones we formulate with!) are also naturally packed with antioxidants. Antioxidants in PUFAs effectively work to stabilize them, extend their shelf lives, and keep them from oxidizing.
For example, the sunflower oil that we use in our oil to milk cleanser is a PUFA, but it’s also naturally loaded with a high concentration of antioxidant vitamin E. This allows it to avoid oxidizing and remain its nourishing, hyper-conditioning self.
Once the oxidation theory is addressed, there is no scientific reason to avoid PUFAs. There’s a reason they’re so popular in skincare - because many of them are deeply nourishing and antioxidant-rich. Additionally, most of the scarier information that has been circulating about PUFAs actually applies to ingesting them, not applying them topically (although this article pokes some interesting holes in that theory as well).
what are the benefits of using PUFAs topically?
When applied topically, studies have shown that linoleic acid, which is commonly and abundantly found in most PUFAs, can actually help minimize the look of dark spots and help treat acne. Other studies have shown that sunflower seed oil helps support the skin’s natural barrier function while also deeply hydrating it.
This study had the same findings; it also found that grapeseed oil, another PUFA, offers antimicrobial properties and helps accelerate healing, and that rosehip oil, one of the PUFAs most commonly found in skincare, helps protect skin against inflammation and oxidative stress.
Altogether, studies indicate that PUFAs can be incredibly beneficial to the skin. Hopefully, this helps demystify these fatty acids a little bit, and so that you won’t be afraid to use them in the future. Especially since your skin is probably loving them.
as always, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or dm us on instagram if you have any questions!