When it comes to buzzy beauty ingredients (hello, CBD oil and snow algae), Vitamin C and Vitamin E get a lot of attention. But how well do you really know your skin care vitamins? Vitamin B helps with skin cell turnover, C is for brightening, E is for nourishing...but is vitamin F even a thing? Yep, it sure is.
What Is Vitamin F?
Dr. Anna Guanche, board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert, says that an easy way to remember vitamin F is to think "F" for fat. That's because vitamin F (or linoleic acid as you might know it) is a collection of unsaturated fats, like omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9, says Christopher Caires, PhD for Perricone MD. Vitamin F is found in essential oils like chia, rosehip and argan.
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Why Skin Needs Vitamin F
Essential fatty acids are the building blocks of cell membranes, which keep skin (as well bones and hormones) functioning. In the case of skin, linoleic acid is a building block for ceramides, the wax-type oils in sebum that are one of skin's main moisturizing elements, Guanche says. What's interesting is that linoleic acid cannot be made by the body and must be ingested for the process to occur.
Ingesting Vitamin F
Experts say vitamin F can be ingested or applied topically. Noshing on more foods rich in good fats, like avocado or salmon, will keep skin smooth and supple. Eating good fats is something Guanche recommends for her patients with drier skin or eczema.
Topical Vitamin F
All skin types can benefit from a topical application of vitamin F. "Who doesn't want to boast that their stratum corneum (the protective outer layer of skin) is the strongest in the land?" asks celebrity makeup artist Natalia López de Quintana. "That's what increasing both your intake and topical use of vitamin F does."
According to Guanche, those with normal to dry skin types benefit when linoleic acids are applied topically. Caires adds that vitamin F is very good for aging skin because it's critical for supporting the protective moisture barrier, which breaks down as we get older and lose vitamin F, resulting in lines and wrinkles.
Worried vitamin F might be too rich if you're prone to acne? Dr. Gary Goldfaden says topical linoleic acid has been shown to help reduce breakouts.
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Choosing Vitamin F Products
Vitamin F can be found in almost every product type, including serums, moisturizers and even sheet masks. Guanche says fatty acids are best delivered topically through oil-based or fat-based (lipophilic) products rather than water-based ones. Like tricky vitamin C, vitamin F must be stable and remain active in its container for the best results. Products also need to penetrate skin as opposed to just sitting on top of it.
Why Vitamin F Is Trending
Vitamin F is not a new ingredient by any means. Goldfaden says that it has been used for many years in skin care formulations. The renewed interest can be attributed to our desire to know all aspects of health and beauty and what goes into our products. It helps that healthy fats are all the rage right now.
Read on for some of our favorite vitamin F-rich products ahead.
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Drunk Elephant A-Passioni Retinol Cream, $74
You'll be feeling molte passioni after testing out Drunk Elephant's latest cult product. A combination of superfood ingredients (broccoli, avocado, olive oil) and vegan retinol tackle the big three: wrinkles, sun damage and dullness. Vitamin F takes skin from sandpaper-like to supple and it calms sensitivity. The cream will last longer than you think because just a pea-sized amount is needed.
Perricone MD Essential FX Acyl-Glutathione Deep Crease Serum, $179
Perricone MD knows what a transforming anti-aging ingredient vitamin F can be — the brand has launched an entire range, Essential FX, devoted to it. This potent serum has vitamin F and glutathione, which is sometimes referred to as the body's "master antioxidant." The combination acts like an airbrush on skin. It provides mega hydration and minimizes the appearance of the most stubborn wrinkles. Dab it on frown and laugh lines.