All About Omega-3s and Their Benefits in Skincare
IN THIS ARTICLE
- What are omega-3s?
- What are the different types of omega-3s?
- Where do omega-3s come from?
- What are some myths about omega-3s?
- What are the benefits of omega-3s for your skin and hair?
- Resistance against UV damage
- Control acne and breakouts
- Improve skin redness and dryness
- Strengthen hair and promote growth
- Who would benefit from omega-3s?
This article will break down everything you need to know about omega-3s and their applications in skincare. So buckle up and let’s get right to it!
What are omega-3s?
Omega-3s are important fatty acids that your body needs. They are the building blocks of the fat in your body and in the food you eat. As you digest various foods, your body breaks down fats into fatty acids, which can then be absorbed into the blood.
In particular, there are lots of studies being done on omega-3s. What makes them so special is the fact that they make up part of the membranes surrounding each cell in your body. There are different types of omega-3s, all of which contribute differently to different parts of your body. This is why you need a balanced diet that includes the different types of omega-3s.
What are the different types of omega-3s?
There are three main types of omega-3 fatty acids: Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA), Eicosapentaenoic Acid (EPA), and Docosahexaenoic Acid (DHA).
- ALA is considered an essential omega-3 fatty acid because it’s vital for growth and development, and your body needs to function properly. The funny thing is, your body can’t naturally make it. This means that you must get it entirely from your diet. Your body can also convert ALA into EPA and DHA—the biologically active forms of omega-3.
- EPA is important for your body for slightly different reasons. Your body uses EPA as energy to produce eicosanoids. These are signalling molecules that play many physiological roles and help reduce inflammation.
- DHA might be the most relevant to our discussion due to the role it plays in skin health. Essentially, it’s an important structural component of our skin. It’s also vital for the makeup of our retinas as well as our brain development and function.
The benefits of omega-3s on our skin and hair is often less discussed, but we’re gonna talk about that in a bit!
Where do Omega-3s come from?
As mentioned, you get omega-3s from your diet. They’re most abundant in foods like fish and other types of seafood. You can also get omega-3s from nuts and seeds such as flaxseeds, chia seeds and walnuts. Plant oils like soybean oil, canola oil and chia seed oil are another source of omega-3s. You can also get them from dietary supplements.
At Graydon Skincare, we truly believe in the power of plant-based superfoods. This is why we’ve incorporated ingredients like chia seed oil, hemp seed oil and sacha inchi oil—all of which are rich in omega-3s—into our skincare products.
What are some myths about omega-3s?
The most common myth is probably that omega-3s only come from fish.
This is completely false. While it is true that fish is a rich source of omega-3s, you can also find omega-3s in a plethora of other sources. As we’ve mentioned, superfoods such as seeds and plant oils are also rich sources of omega-3s. And the best thing about them? They’re more sustainable. Also, you won’t have to worry about fish being raised in less-than-healthy conditions.
Another myth is that omega-3s make you fat.
At a glance, this seems to make sense. After all, they are fats, right?
Well, not entirely. Speaking as a former yoga instructor, I can affirm that eating fats doesn’t actually make you gain weight. What makes you gain weight is consuming more calories than your body is able to burn off. As we’ve mentioned, omega-3s act as energy for your body to work more efficiently, which is essential if you do any strenuous exercise.
Of course, there are more myths out there regarding omega-3s, but I’ll leave it at these.
What are the benefits of omega-3s for your skin and hair?
I’ve already mentioned that these fatty acids can be incredibly beneficials for our skin and hair. In particular, I’ve found that there are four main benefits to including them in your skincare routine:
A few studies have suggested that omega-3s contain natural photoprotection properties. This means that they could increase your skin’s resistance to UVA and UVB rays and decrease UV-induced skin trauma, such as redness.
For example, a study explored whether consuming DHA and EPA supplements could reduce skin’s sensitivity to UV rays. More specifically, a small 3-month study shows that people who consumed 4 grams of EPA daily were able to increase their resistance to sunburn by 136%, as opposed to the placebo group where no changes were shown.
The studies mentioned above show the benefits of omega-3s when taken orally, but what about their topical applications?
As it turns out, a 2005 study explored exactly this question. In this in vivo study, researchers asked participants to apply sardine oil, which is rich in EPA and DHA, onto their skin after being exposed to UVB rays. The results showed that these people experienced around 25% less skin redness compared with the group that didn’t apply the oil.
However, as of now, researchers still need to conduct more experiments to study this particular benefit of omega-3s. As such, they won’t be a substitute for your other methods of sun protection, like wearing an SPF certified sunscreen, wearing protective clothes and avoiding sun exposure.
If you're an acne sufferer, rejoice! This may help.
As it turns out, having an omega-3s-rich diet may help you control the severity of your acne and breakouts. Particularly, omega-3s may help to fight against certain inflamed types of acne, such as papules, pustules and nodules. This is thanks to their potent anti-inflammatory properties.
Research seems to back this up as well. A few studies have shown that a diet including omega-3s, as well as omega-3 supplements, helps to decrease acne lesions. Although diet and acne is a bit of a controversial topic, we can’t deny all the anecdotal evidence. Personally, I do believe that you are what you eat. And that a healthy, balanced diet can have a positive effect on how your skin appears.
Omega-3s-rich oils are potent occlusives, meaning they do a great job at sealing moisture into your skin, preventing Transepidermal Water Loss (TEWL) from occurring rapidly.
In other words? Omega-3s are extremely moisturizing!
Thanks to their occlusive properties, they can improve your skin barrier function, which could fight against redness, dryness and itchiness. This means that if you have sensitive skin or some skin disorders, such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis, you may find benefits from applying products with omega-3s onto your skin. In particular, those with psoriasis have reported seeing additional improvements when taking 2,000-10,000 mg/day of omega-3s supplements together with vitamin D.
Here are some cool results from a study: Consuming omega-3s-rich oil daily could increase your skin hydration by 39% in just 12 weeks. This comes from a small 2011 study where participants were asked to ingest around 2.5 ml of flaxseed oil per day. As a result, their skin became less dry and sensitive than the group that didn’t ingest flaxseed oil.
Want longer, thicker, stronger hair? If you do, that’s another reason to love omega-3s!
According to a study on those with female pattern hair loss, consuming omega-3s supplements over a 6-month period was shown to significantly increase the participants’ hair density. It was reported that 89.9% of participants experienced a reduction in hair loss, with 86.1% reporting improvement in hair diameter and 87.3% reporting improvement in hair density. Another study seems to support these findings, citing that consuming an omega-3s-rich oil could lead to an increase in hair growth.
Sounds pretty good, huh?
Who would benefit from omega-3s?
If you’re someone with dry, sensitive, itchy skin, or if you just want healthier skin and hair in general, then try including more foods and superfoods with omega-3s in your diet. On top of that, I’d also recommend you take a double-pronged approach by also including skincare products with omega-3s to your overall regimen. Beauty from the inside out, baby!
Looking for results-driven skincare that includes omega-3s? Look no further!
Our Superfood Serum contains chia seed oil and sacha inchi oil, both of which are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, among other efficacious superfood ingredients to strengthen your skin barrier and increase your skin moisture. We also have Intimacy Oil, formulated with omega-3s-rich hemp seed oil, that works as a dry touch body oil.
Together, this oil duo has you covered and protected from head to toe. ❤️
Shop this article:
Overthinking your skincare routine may be holding you back, or even making things worse. Click here for 5 tips to overcome skincare perfectionism!
Credit for main image: morisfoto
Sawada Y, Honda T, Nakamizo S, et al. Resolvin E1 attenuates murine psoriatic dermatitis. Sci Rep. 2018;8(1):11873. Published 2018 Aug 8. doi:10.1038/s41598-018-30373-1
Millsop JW, Bhatia BK, Debbaneh M, Koo J, Liao W. Diet and psoriasis, part III: role of nutritional supplements. J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;71(3):561-9.
Pilkington, Suzanne M et al. “Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids: photoprotective macronutrients.” Experimental dermatologyvol. 20,7 (2011): 537-43. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0625.2011.01294.x
Rhodes, Lesley E et al. “Effect of eicosapentaenoic acid, an omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acid, on UVR-related cancer risk in humans. An assessment of early genotoxic markers.” Carcinogenesis vol. 24,5 (2003): 919-25. doi:10.1093/carcin/bgg038
Puglia, Carmelo et al. “In vitro percutaneous absorption studies and in vivo evaluation of anti-inflammatory activity of essential fatty acids (EFA) from fish oil extracts.” International journal of pharmaceutics vol. 299,1-2 (2005): 41-8. doi:10.1016/j.ijpharm.2005.04.031
Li, Kelei et al. “Effect of marine-derived n-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids on C-reactive protein, interleukin 6 and tumor necrosis factor α: a meta-analysis.” PloS one vol. 9,2 e88103. 5 Feb. 2014, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0088103
Rubin, Mark G et al. “Acne vulgaris, mental health and omega-3 fatty acids: a report of cases.” Lipids in health and disease vol. 7 36. 13 Oct. 2008, doi:10.1186/1476-511X-7-36
Jung, Jae Yoon et al. “Effect of dietary supplementation with omega-3 fatty acid and gamma-linolenic acid on acne vulgaris: a randomised, double-blind, controlled trial.” Acta dermato-venereologica vol. 94,5 (2014): 521-5. doi:10.2340/00015555-1802
Bowe, Whitney P et al. “Diet and acne.” Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology vol. 63,1 (2010): 124-41. doi:10.1016/j.jaad.2009.07.043
Kawamura, Asuka et al. “Dietary supplementation of gamma-linolenic acid improves skin parameters in subjects with dry skin and mild atopic dermatitis.” Journal of oleo science vol. 60,12 (2011): 597-607. doi:10.5650/jos.60.597
Balbás, G Márquez et al. “Study on the use of omega-3 fatty acids as a therapeutic supplement in treatment of psoriasis.” Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology vol. 4 (2011): 73-7. doi:10.2147/CCID.S17220
Neukam, K et al. “Supplementation of flaxseed oil diminishes skin sensitivity and improves skin barrier function and condition.” Skin pharmacology and physiology vol. 24,2 (2011): 67-74. doi:10.1159/000321442
Le Floc'h, Caroline et al. “Effect of a nutritional supplement on hair loss in women.” Journal of cosmetic dermatology vol. 14,1 (2015): 76-82. doi:10.1111/jocd.12127
Kang, Jung-Il et al. “Mackerel-Derived Fermented Fish Oil Promotes Hair Growth by Anagen-Stimulating Pathways.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 19,9 2770. 14 Sep. 2018, doi:10.3390/ijms19092770
We've partnered with The Ocean Legacy Foundation (OLF) to reduce ocean plastic. Keep reading to learn what they do, how we're helping and what you can do!Read now
Holiday shopping doesn't have to be stressful! Check out our gift guide to find the perfect presents for everyone on your list.Read now
From ancient China to modern day beauty trend, keep reading to discover why you should add a facial roller to your skincare routine.Read now