You don’t hear a lot about linoleic acid for skin, but this essential fatty acid certainly deserves a serious mention. This ingredient shows up in skin care on its own, but more frequently it is a hidden component found in a few precious botanical oils.
In skin care, linoleic acid does a lot of phenomenal things, and it works for all skin types, which is why you want it on your radar. This fatty acid might also be part of the reason why some plant oils cause breakouts while others don’t.
In this article, we’ll explain exactly what linoleic acid is, and what it does to the skin. We’ll help you find out which oils contain linoleic acid in remarkable quantities, and then will make sure you know how to use it once you add it to your routine. To cap things off, we’ve collected a list of the best linoleic acid skincare products, so you can enjoy the benefits of this wonderful ingredient.
Linoleic Acid in Skin Care: Contents
• 11 Best Linoleic Acid Skincare Products to Try
• What Is Linoleic Acid?
• What Does Linoleic Acid Do to Your Skin?
• Which Oils Contain Linoleic Acid?
• Pros & Cons of Linoleic Acid in Skin Care
• How to Use Linoleic Acid in Skin Care
To reduce acne and retain moisture in your skin for a radiant look, make sure you try any of these 11 best linoleic acid skincare products!
1. Ren Clean Skincare Blemishes Be Gone Set
This anti-acne set includes both a clay cleanser and a light gel moisturizer to suit anyone dealing with acne or oily skin. It hydrates, nourishes, and and brightens up the skin while keeping breakouts at bay.
The cleanser, in addition to the mattifying Kaolin clay, also includes linoleic acid-rich sunflower and sesame oils, while the moisturizer has a dose of soybean oil. To try this wonderful set, you’ll have to go to Sephora.
2. Odacité Gr + G Grapeseed-Grapefruit Oily/Acne-Prone Serum Concentrate
This simple face oil formula contains grape seed oil to moisturize, reduce inflammation, and mattify the skin, and grapefruit oil with its uplifting, clarifying, and antibacterial properties. It can be used alone or blended with your moisturizer, and is especially recommended for those with acne-prone skin. It is available for sale at Nordstrom.
3. Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Clinical Concentrate Radiance Booster
This skin-brightening concentrate can be used as a serum, or mixed with your moisturizer, to help with hydration, dullness, scarring and hyperpigmentation. In addition to the wonderful linoleic acid, it also contains some exfoliating acids as well as powerful skin brightener vitamin C. You can find it at Sephora.
4. StriVectin Advanced Acids Oleic Rapid Recovery Milk
This fabulous linoleic acid product will nourish and beautify every skin type, since it contains more than just linoleic acid. It includes skin-replenishing ceramides, antioxidant NIA-114, and super anti-aging peptides. It is a totally non-comedogenic formula that will boost the look of everyone’s skin. It can be purchased online at Dermstore.
5. Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Moisturizing Balm
This thick moisturizer is great for those with dry skin, especially as a final balm after a lot of hydrating serums. It contains linoleic acid on its own, as well as a variety of oils rich in linoleic acid. Its anti-aging properties come from collagen-restoring argireline, while hydration comes from all kinds of humectants and emollients. It is available for buying through Sephora.
6. UMA Deeply Clarifying Face Oil
This luxurious formula infuses linoleic acid-rich grape seed oil with the most powerful anti-acne essential oils, like clove and tea tree. It helps to clarify the skin and fade acne quickly, and it can be used blended with face cream or simply on its own. You cannot go wrong with this face oil, so pick it up from Nordstrom.
7. Caudalie Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil
With a lot of high-linoleic sunflower oil, as well as a few other skin-nourishing oils, this cleanser soothes and moisturizes the skin while removing makeup, oils, and improving the skin. Beyond that, it does all this without ever irritating the skin or clogging the pores! It is a great choice for all skin types. You can buy it at Sephora.
8. Milk Makeup Sunshine Oil
This perfect face oil is loaded with linoleic acid from grape seed oil, along with uplifting citrus essential oils and moisturizing avocado oil. It comes in rollerball dispensie, so it is easy and fun to apply, and you can use it alone or mixed with your moisturizer. It’s great for all skin types, but especially those that are feeling a little dull. This lovely little product is available for sale at Sephora.
9. Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil
This is a skin-brightening and anti-aging face oil loaded with superfoods, as well as many oils rich in linoleic acid. In a sunflower oil base sit prickly pear, acai, and macqui oils to help fortify the skin against free radical damage and to boost its luminosity. It can be used by everyone, except those with severely oil skin. It is available for sale at Sephora.
10. Pai Skincare Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil
Rosehip oil is one of the best high linoleic acid oils, because it also contains two forms of skin-retexturizing vitamin A. This organic face oil from Pai is great for all skin types, including those who are acne-prone. It’ll help prevent premature aging, speed up the healing of acne, and minimize the look of darkness and scars. You can find it for sale at Nordstrom.
11. Juice Beauty STEM CELLULAR Anti-Wrinkle Booster Serum
If your skin doesn’t do well with straight oils, this anti-aging linoleic acid serum is a perfect choice for getting that dose of linoleic acid along with a few other fabulous ingredients. In addition to a few linoleic acid-rich oils, this serum also contains a brightening dose of vitamin C and a selection of anti-aging extracts that stave off free-radical damage. It can be purchased at Ulta.
Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid that occurs naturally in all kinds of oils, including sunflower oil, safflower oil, and grape seed oil. It is a type of polyunsaturated omega 6 fatty acid. Since it is unsaturated, it tends to stay liquid even at lower temperatures.
The human body cannot synthesize linoleic acid on its own, but it is an important part of our diet. Linoleic acid is important for natural skin functions and wound healing, and deficiencies in it can lead to all kinds of skin and hair issues.
Once consumed and processed by our body, linoleic acid comes to make up part of our sebum (the oil that human skin produces), but it can also reach our skin topically. Oils rich in linoleic acid are especially popular in skin care because they have all kinds of fantastic properties that make all skin types function better.
Linoleic acid occurs naturally in human sebum, but not everyone’s skin produces it the same way. For example, it was found that the oil on the faces of those with acne-prone skin produces less linoleic acid and more oleic. These are the things that linoleic acid is shown to do to the skin:
• Synthesized linoleic acid has been shown to reduce acne in scientific studies. Additionally, many people who use oils rich in linoleic acid report that it helps reduce their breakouts.
• As an oil component linoleic acid has emollient properties, meaning that it fills in the gaps between dead skin cells on the top levels of the skin, making the skin feel smoother, softer, and more supple.
• Some studies show that linoleic acid makes the skin sturdier and more resilient to damage by restoring its barrier functions. This is great for protecting and fortifying sensitive and dry skin types, and making the skin feel more moisturized.
• Linoleic acid is thought to have some anti-inflammatory properties, which might be why it helps to reduce acne which is an inflammatory condition. This means that it can also help with a reduction in redness and irritation from other reasons like rosacea or general sensitivity.
• Linoleic acid also helps to contribute to brighter skin, by helping to reduce hyperpigmentation. It is not quite as powerful as vitamin C or chemical exfoliants, but it is a great addition to an overall routine meant to reduce darkness and pigmentation in the skin.
There are many plant oils that contain large amounts of linoleic acid, but I wanted to list the ones that show up the most frequently in skin care. When it’s in an oil, linoleic acid is bound to glycerin, which means that the skin doesn’t process it the same way as it would when it’s just the isolated fatty acid on its own.
Despite that, people with sensitive and acne-prone skin find that their skin tends to respond beautifully to oils high in linoleic acid, so I suspect that it still has an effect. In addition to that, all of the natural oils rich in linoleic acid contain other fabulous components that can help the skin, like anti-aging vitamins and phytosterols.
Oils rich in linoleic acid normally have a much shorter shelf life than other oils, which is why you can’t use any old oil found in the grocery store – they are often processed in some way in order to increase their oleic acid content and reduce their linoleic acid content. That is why you want to use either skincare products with high-linoleic acid ingredients, or the straight oils sold for the purposes of skincare preparation.
• Grape seed oil contains about 76% linoleic acid, and it tends to leave the skin feeling matte.
• Sunflower oil has around 72% linoleic acid, but it also has a very nice, moisturizing texture.
• Safflower oil, with around 75% linoleic acid, is very similar to sunflower oil.
• Hemp oil has between 50% and 60% linoleic acid, but it also contains a small amount of the powerfully anti-inflammatory gamma-linolenic acid.
• Evening primrose oil has a lot more linoleic acid, at 73%, and a whopping 12% of gamma-linolenic acid.
• Rosehip oil has 54% linoleic acid, but it is also rich in skin-rejuvenating and brightening vitamin A.
• Soybean oil with 53% linoleic acid is a balanced choice great for those with skin that leans towards dry, since it also contains a fair amount of oleic acid.
Whether linoleic acid skin care is for you or not depends on the pros and cons of using such products, which come as follows:
• Linoleic acid works for all skin types.
• It is able to improve many different skin conditions including irritation, acne, dryness, dehydration, pigmentation, and sensitivity.
• Allergies are very rare, since it occurs naturally in human skin.
• Oils rich in linoleic acid have a short shelf life (usually between 3-6 months), which must be accounted for.
• Linoleic acid likely works better when synthesized rather than as part of an oil. That being said, people notice fabulous results with natural oils rich in linoleic acid, so you can choose to trust the copious anecdotal evidence.
Linoleic acid skincare products come in all forms, from cleansers to serums to moisturizers to face oils. Depending on the product you choose, simply follow the use directions, and fit it into your skincare routine where such a product usually makes sense. With this in mind, oils rich in linoleic acid tend to commonly show up in high concentrations in facial oil blends, and there are a few ways to use facial oils.
If you’re adding an oil rich in linoleic acid to your skincare routine, it’s important to be aware that since its shelf life tends to be shorter than that of high oleic oils you might want to keep it in the fridge, or fortify it with shelf life-extending vitamin E. Always look at the use-by date when buying just the oil.
Oils high in linoleic acid tend to penetrate into the skin fairly easily, and they’re not too occlusive: this means that they don’t totally lock water into the skin the way silicones or mineral oils would. Because of that they can be used before moisturizers, and you don’t have to worry about them preventing the moisturizer from sinking into your skin.
A very simple routine could include nothing but high linoleic acid oils, as you can use them to cleanse your skin with the oil cleansing method, and then just add a few drops to moisturize your skin.
Oils high in linoleic acid should always come in towards the end your skincare routine, after you’ve applied any active ingredients you might be using like anti-bacterial spot treatments, chemical exfoliants, vitamin C, or vitamin A.
You can also use oils high in linoleic acid as though they were serums, smoothing them on to your skin either before or after moisturizing your skin. Lastly, you can use them to boost the function of your moisturizer by adding a few drops to it in your palm right before applying to the skin.
Photos via @beawuty