What is Linoleic Acid? Omega 6 Essential Fatty Acid for Dry Skin

Posted by Dr. Natasha Ryz on

What is Linoleic Acid?

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid found naturally in healthy skin.

Linoleic acid is an essential nutrient, and your body must get linoleic acid through diet or supplements. Linoleic acid is essential for growth, reproduction, and skin function (Huang et al, 2018).

Linoleic acid belongs to the family of omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs).

PUFAs are fatty acids that contain more than one double bond in their backbone, and are liquid at room temperature.

As the parent compound for the family of omega 6 PUFAs, linoleic acid can be elongated and desaturated to other bioactive omega 6 PUFAs, such as γ-linolenic acid (18:3ω6) and arachidonic acid (20:4ω6). Subsequently, arachidonic acid can be converted to a myriad of bioactive compounds called eicosanoids, such as prostaglandins and leukotrienes. These eicosanoids are important in normal metabolic function of cells and tissues (Whelan et al, 2013). 

The eicosanoids derived from arachidonic acid are also involved in the inflammatory and allergic response of your skin (Horrobin et al, 2000; Liu et al, 2015).

Natural Sources of Linoleic Acid

Linoleic acid occurs naturally in a wide variety of foods, but especially in many nuts, seeds, and seed oils including sunflower seed oil, apple seed oil and hemp seed oil.

Benefits of Linoleic Acid

Linoleic acid can be applied topically to your skin and has numerous benefits:

Linoleic acid softens your skin

In skincare products, linoleic acid functions as an emollient and softens your skin.

Linoleic acid strengthens your skin barrier

Linoleic acid is the richest polyunsaturated fatty acid in the epidermal layer. It is also the precursor to ceramide synthesis (Breiden et al, 2014).

As an essential component of ceramides, linoleic acid is involved in the maintenance of the transdermal water barrier of the epidermis  (Whelan et al, 2013). 


Linoleic acid is an omega 6 polyunsaturated fatty acid found naturally in healthy skin.

Linoleic acid has many benefits for your skin when applied topically. It softens your skin, and strengthens your skin barrier. 

Linoleic acid is an essential nutrient, and must be supplied through diet or supplements. 


Breiden B., Sandhoff K. The role of sphingolipid metabolism in cutaneous permeability barrier formation. Biochim. Biophys. Acta. 2014;1841:441–452.

Horrobin D.F. Essential fatty acid metabolism and its modification in atopic eczema. Am. J. Clin. Nutr. 2000;71(Suppl. 1):367S–372S. 

Huang TH, Wang PW, Yang SC, Chou WL, Fang JY. Cosmetic and Therapeutic Applications of Fish Oil's Fatty Acids on the Skin. 2018 Jul 30;16(8):256.

Liu M., Yokomizo T. The role of leukotrienes in allergic diseases. Allergol. Int. 2015;64:17–26. 

Whelan J, Fritsche K. Linoleic acid. Adv Nutr. 2013 May 1;4(3):311-2. 

Apple Seed Oil Carrier Oils Fatty Acids Natural Ingredients Skin Barrier Skin Science

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