We give you the essential low-down on essential fatty acids!
What are EFAs?
Essential fatty acids, as their name implies, play a vital role in keeping our skin healthy. Although they’re really important in the skin cell regeneration cycle, our bodies don’t produce EFAs themselves so we need to provide them somehow, either in the food we eat or what we put on our skin.
Studies have shown that eczema sufferers can be particularly low in EFAs and might need an extra boost of fatty acids like omegas-3, -6 and -9 to keep their skin in strong, supple, healthy condition.
What do EFAs do?
Think of the epidermis as a barrier, like the skin’s raincoat or outer garment, stopping the skin from drying out and preventing allergens, toxins and microbes from getting in. Well, EFAs are basically the building blocks of healthy cell membranes; they’re needed to keep the skin’s barrier function working well and doing its job as the protective wall between the body and the outside world. With eczema sufferers, the wall is broken or fragile, or doesn’t have the right bricks to hand for the necessary repairs.
Not only do EFAs provide the right bricks, but they also have lots of other benefits!
Research* has shown that nourishing the skin with EFAs can:
- Protect from free radicals
- Reduce sun sensitivity and sun damage
- Modulate the inflammatory response
- Improve the visible signs of skin ageing
- Reduce hyperpigmentation
- Reduce roughness, scaliness and sensitivity
How can you help your skin with EFAs?
Using moisturisers that are made from EFA-rich oils as part of your everyday skincare regime is a really effective way of getting the essential fatty acids to where they’re most needed. Even when your skin isn’t in flare-up mode, feeding the skin with nutrients will improve its resilience long-term and make flare-ups less likely to happen.
We’ve chosen some oils which are especially EFA-rich for our creams, salves and oils for dry or sensitive skin: gorgeously pure, natural, organic oils like safflower, sunflower, olive and hemp seed. We also use specialist oils such as borage, calendula, nettle and rosehip, because they bring other varieties of essential fatty acids to products like our wonderful Scar Oil or extra nutritious Scalp Oil. Coconut oil, by the way, for all its virtues, has no EFAs, which is why we prefer to use hemp seed or safflower as the base for our emollients.
As a way to top up your EFA levels on a daily basis, try our Skin Salvation salve; perfect for really deep hydration and nourishment, you can use this lovely soothing balm even on broken or sore patches.
It’s like taking a vitamin supplement through your skin!
*Here’s the science! www.lpi.oregonstate.edu/essential-fatty-acids
If you require medical advice we recommend you always contact your healthcare professional.
If you or someone you are caring for seems very unwell, is getting worse or you think there's something seriously wrong, call for emergency services straight away. For general medical advice, please contact your healthcare professional, this article does not contain or replace medical advice.
Do not delay getting help if you're worried. Trust your instincts.