Fats: Skincare's Unlikely Heroes

Fats: Skincare's Unlikely Heroes

For decades, fats have been criticized as the enemy of clear and healthy skin. However, recent scientific research has begun to challenge this long-held belief, revealing a more nuanced relationship between lipids and skin health. In fact, certain types of fats may actually be key to achieving a glowing complexion.

The Importance of the Skin's Lipid Barrier

The skin, our body's largest organ, relies on a delicate balance of fats to maintain its protective barrier function. This lipid barrier not only keeps harmful substances out but also locks in moisture and prevents dehydration. It is important to distinguish between different types of lipids and their effects on the skin.

The Downside of Saturated and Trans Fats

Saturated and trans fats, often found in processed foods and red meats, have been associated with increased inflammation in the body. This can manifest in the skin as acne, redness, and premature aging.

The Benefits of Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids, a type of polyunsaturated fat, are found in fatty fish like salmon, mackerel, and sardines, as well as in plant sources such as chia seeds and walnuts. Omega-3s have strong anti-inflammatory properties. A 2016 study published in the Journal of Clinical Medicine found that omega-3 supplementation significantly reduced inflammatory acne lesions in participants over a 10-week period.

The Role of Gamma-Linolenic Acid (GLA)

Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an omega-6 fatty acid found in evening primrose oil and borage oil. It has been shown to improve skin moisture, elasticity, and firmness. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study published in the International Journal of Cosmetic Science demonstrated that oral supplementation with borage oil led to significant improvements in skin barrier function and hydration.

Monounsaturated Fats and Vitamin E

Monounsaturated fats, such as those found in avocados, olive oil, and nuts, are rich in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that protects the skin from free radical damage and may help prevent premature aging.

A Balanced Approach to Fats

Not all fats are created equal when it comes to skin health! However, it's important to remember that a balanced approach is key – excessive consumption of any type of fat can lead to weight gain and other health issues.

Recipe: Omega-3 Rich Avocado and Walnut Salad


  • 2 cups mixed salad greens
  • 1 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped
  • 60 grams smoked salmon, torn into pieces
  • 1 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. In a large bowl, toss the salad greens with olive oil and lemon juice.
  2. Add the sliced avocado, chopped walnuts, and smoked salmon.
  3. Sprinkle chia seeds over the top.
  4. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Gently toss and serve immediately.
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