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Essential fatty acids (EFAs) protect skin cell membranes by forming a barrier that prevents moisture from quickly evaporating. As you age, the loss of EFAs affects the structure of your skin cells, resulting in thinner, drier, more wrinkled skin.
Your body can synthesize most of the fats it needs from the food you eat. However, two essential fatty acids-linolenic and linolei-cannot be produced in the body and must be obtained from food. Linolenic acid is an essential omega-3 fatty acid found in seeds (notably chia and flaxseed), nuts (especially walnuts), and many common vegetable oils. Linoleic acid is a polyunsaturated omega-6 fatty acid that is abundant in many vegetable oils, especially safflower, sunflower, and corn oils.
Linolenic acid is the essential fatty acid most beneficial to your skin, whether in your diet or your skin care products. Dermatologist Nicholas V. Perricone, MD, reports in his best-selling book, The Wrinkle Cure, that foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids help reduce the body’s production of inflammatory compounds-chemicals involved in the aging process that affect how healthy the skin looks and feels.
Essential fatty acids in skin care products are also anti-inflammatory while providing moisture to the skin, says Manhattan dermatologist and assistant professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Debra Jaliman, MD. “EFAs are good for people with very dry skin, for example, those prone to eczema. Because EFAs have been shown to have an anti-inflammatory effect, anyone who is prone to allergies or
redness will benefit from EFAs.”
1. Soften and moisturize dry winter skin with Kneipp Almond Blossom Soft Skin Body Lotion. Sweet almond, avocado, jojoba, orange, and lemon oils plus vitamin E leave your skin smooth, silky, and smelling sweet.
2. Mild and creamy, Larénim Mineral Argan Purifying Cleanser gently washes away dirt and makeup while leaving your complexion soft, thanks to omega-rich argan oil. Also: We love the vanilla-honey scent.
3. Drench dehydrated hands with Dr. Hauschka Hydrating Hand Cream. Marsh mallow extract, along with sweet almond and jojoba oils, relieve dryness and smother skin in moisture. Nurturing wheat germ and carrot oils balance skin’s moisture content.
4. Hydrate thirsty skin with Out of Africa Whipped & Creamy Shea Body Butter (Vanilla). It’s made with unrefined shea butter, fatty acids, and vitamin E. This velvety moisturizer penetrates deeply to smooth flaky or cracked skin and scars, as well as help soothe psoriasis and eczema.
5. Restore dry, thinning skin with Reviva Labs Nourishing Cream. This light moisturizing cream is a blend of 10 oils rich in omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids (sunflower, flaxseed, borage, rosehip, hemp, avocado, wheat germ, black currant seed, olive, and sesame seed) plus pomegranate oil.