You’ve likely heard of fatty acids, and probably even about using omega fatty acids in skincare—especially if you’ve ever read one of Dr. Perricone’s books. But it may have been a while since you reviewed exactly what fatty acids are, why they are essential for your overall health—and how omega fatty acids can significantly improve the look and feel of your skin. This quick cheat sheet will get you up to speed on the myriad benefits of including fatty acids in your diet and applying them topically, as well as help you find the best omega fatty acid skincare.
So, what are omega fatty acids?
Omega fatty acids are considered good-for-you fats because your body needs them to function optimally. While there are technically 11 different omega fatty acids, there are three that are usually thought of as the most important when it comes to good health: omega-3, omega-6, omega-9. They are also generally thought to be the best fatty acids for skin (more on that later).
The first two, omega-3 and omega-6, are called “essential” fatty acids because your body doesn’t produce them, so you must get them from your diet or through supplementation. Omega-9 is produced naturally by the body, but it is still recommended that you include omega-9 rich foods in your diet.
These three omega fatty acids all play important roles in your overall health—and a proper balance of them can make a big difference in the condition of your skin. To fully enjoy their benefits, you should take them orally (in food or supplements) and apply them topically. First, let’s explore how they help from the inside-out.
Omega-3 Fatty Acids
Impact on overall health: Omega-3 may reduce inflammation, improve heart health, support an efficient metabolism, and help manage depression.
Impact on skin health: Omega-3 may help reduce sun sensitivity, calm acne flare ups, and improve skin barrier function by keeping moisture in. Omega-3 is typically thought to be the best fatty acid for skin.
Best food sources of omega-3: Because the body does not produce omega-3 naturally, it is recommended that you get at least two servings weekly of this essential nutrient (though more than that is fine. In the case of omega-3, more is better). These food sources are especially rich in omega-3 fatty acids:
- Fish, especially salmon, halibut, trout, mackerel and anchovies
- Chia seeds
- Seaweed and algae
- Brussel sprouts
To ensure you are getting plenty of omega-3, you may also consider supplementation. Perricone MD’s Omega-3 Supplements are derived from wild sockeye salmon.
Omega-6 Fatty Acids
Impact on overall health: Omega-6 may help with weight management and improve energy levels.
Impact on skin health: Omega-6 (specifically one type of omega-6 called linoleic acid) may improve skin’s ability to retain moisture.
Best food sources of omega -6: Similar to omega-3 fatty acids, omega-6 should be part of a balanced diet because the body will not produce it on its own. You do not, however, need as much omega-6 as you do omega-3. In fact, the recommended ratio of omega-3 intake to omega-6 is 4:1. Too much omega-6—or an imbalance in your omega 3-to-6 ratio—can exacerbate inflammation in the body. Some healthy ways to get omega-6 in your diet include:
- Sunflower seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Avocado oil
Omega-9 Fatty Acids
Impact on overall health: Omega-9 can help reduce inflammation, may help to raise good cholesterol (HDL) and lower bad cholesterol levels (LDL), raise energy levels and help control blood sugar levels.
Impact on skin health: Omega-9 can help maintain skin’s moisture level and improve skin elasticity.
Best food sources of omega-9: Unlike omega-3 and omega-6, omega-9 fatty acids aren’t considered “essential,” because the body can produce them. However, they do have health benefits and are considered better for you than many other kinds of fat. Here are some nutrient-rich ways to get omega-9 in your diet:
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- Almost all animal meat
How do they benefit your skin?
The benefits of these three fatty acids are not, however, limited to good health from the inside out. Including omega fatty acids in skincare and applying them topically has also been shown to help improve the condition of your complexion. A skincare formula that contains the best fatty acids for skin—omegas-3, -6, and -9—may help with the following:
- Support the skin’s barrier function
- Visibly plump
- Increase radiance
- Prevent moisture loss
- Reduce redness and irritation caused by environmental aggressors
- Strengthen skin
Sold? To give your skin a daily dose of omegas-3, -6, and -9, from the outside-in, consider these best-selling Perricone MD Cold Plasma Plus+ formulas.
This ultra-rich, brand-new cream utilizes omegas-3, -6, and -9 in a vegetable triglyceride complex to maximize moisturization, plumping, smoothing and softening the skin. To complement the fatty acids, Vitamin C Ester has been added to brighten and even tone, and peptides were included to firm and tighten. For best results, layer over the Cold Plasma Plus+ Advanced Serum Concentrate (below).
The ultimate multi-tasker, this formula utilizes omegas-3, -6, and -9, along with Vitamin C Ester and copper tripeptide in a liquid crystal delivery system that improves absorption and efficacy. Used twice daily, this high-tech serum can improve radiance, uneven texture, uneven tone, discoloration, redness, enlarged pores, lines, wrinkles and loss of firmness.
This hard-working eye treatment targets dark circles, puffiness, crow’s feet, fine lines and crepiness using omegas-3, -6, and -9 in conjunction with Perricone MD’s proprietary Vitamin C Ester and copper tripeptide. The result: smoother, brighter, firmer under-eye skin.