Oleic Acid and Skin

What is Oleic Acid?

Oleic acid is a monounsaturated fatty acid with a lipid number of C18:1.  That means that there is only one double bond and therefore it lasts longer than other acids such as Gamma-linoleic acid or Linolenic acid which both have three double bonds (C18:3).  Oleic acid is an Omega-9 fatty acid along with erucic acid and mead acid to name a few.  Omega-9 fatty acids are not considered essential fatty acids like Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids are.  This is because the human body can produce omega-9 fatty acids and in fact oleic acid is found in our sebum.  Sebum is the waxy, oily substance produced by our sebaceous glands.  Oleic acid is helpful to the cardiovascular system and can help to lower cholesterol.

An interesting point about oleic acid is that many insects emit it as their bodies decay after death.  This is true for both ants and bees and in fact if a live ant or bee is doused with a drop of oleic acid, its hive mates will drag it out of the hive and discard it as if it were a dead body!  This makes oleic acid an effective ingredient in bug repellents.  The pheromones may signal danger to other insects warning them that others have died before them and that something hazardous may exist.

How does Oleic Acid Help Our Skin?

Oleic acid is actually found in the sebum of human skin.  It has a wide range of positive effects on the skin including adding moisture to the skin and making it supple and soft.  Oleic acid helps to regenerate the skin and also offers anti-inflammatory help.  Because it so closely mimics sebum, it is easily absorbed into and utilized by the skin and can help the skin absorb other nutrients as well.  It may be surprising that some studies have shown that oleic acid can actually exacerbate acne, so for those with acne prone skin it may be a good idea to avoid using these oils on certain areas.

What Oils are High in Oleic Acid?

Luckily there are a plethora of foods that are rich in oleic acid, including oils and butters.  And it’s not just nut oils that are high in oleic acid.  Two of the sources of oil highest in oleic acid include avocado and olive.
avocado oil
Some of the oils high in Oleic acid include:

  • Avocado oil (75%) Has a shelf life of about 12 months
  • Olive oil (75%) Has a shelf life of about 12 months
  • Camellia oil (75%) Has a shelf life of about 1 to 2 years
  • Hazelnut oil (70%) Has a shelf life of about 12 months
  • Sweet almond oil (70%) Has a shelf life of about 12 months
  • Apricot kernel oil (60%) Has a shelf life of about 12 months
  • Macadamia nut oil (58%) Has a shelf life of about 12 months
  • Shea butter (55%) Has a shelf life of about 2 years
  • Mango butter (46%) Has a shelf life of about 2 to 3 years
  • Sesame oil (45%) Has a shelf life of about 9 to 12 months
  • Rice bran oil (42%) Has a shelf life of about 12 months

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