Gama-Linolenic Acid (GLA)
GLA stands for Gamma Linolenic Acid, which is an essential fatty acid that is naturally-occurring in plant seeds such as borage, black currant and evening primrose seeds. GLA is essential to human nutrition, as it is an Omega-6 fatty acid which the body is able to convert into health-benefiting substances which are key to proper brain function, maintenance of healthy bones, regulation of metabolism and reproductive system, and healthy skin and hair growth. GLA is not created by the body and must therefore be added to your diet in the form of supplements; black currant or borage seed oil supplements are the best sources and may be found at your local health food store or in the health section of your local grocery store.
GLA may be applied topically to skin to deliver significant improvements in skin health and appearance. Several skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis and dry, dehydrated skin may be improved or even completely resolved with GLA.
With regular use of GLA-rich oils applied on skin, improvements may be seen in moisture balance and retention, wrinkles and fine lines, skin elasticity, scars, dark spots, blemishes and overall radiance. A further bonus is that borage, black currant and evening primrose all deliver additional botanical benefits to skin, in the form of phytonutrients, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.
GLA (gamma linolenic acid) is a plant-derived essential omega-6 most abundant in seeds of an Eastern flower known as borage. Although a member of the omega-6 family, it’s metabolized differently than other omega-6s and is labeled essential because our bodies cannot produce it.
Aging results in defects occurring in human enzymes responsible for producing anti-inflammatory molecules from dietary fats. The result is an increased risk for inflammatory conditions of all kinds. The fatty acid profile of borage is unique in that it contains 20 to 27 percent GLA. Evening primrose oil contains 8 to 10 percent GLA and black currant oil contains 15 to 17 percent. Skin disorders like eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, dermatitis, cradle cap, acne and dry skin occur when we are deficient in GLA. GLA is vital for keeping skin cells moist and strong improving the protective function of the skin.
Sometimes referred to as Vitamin F, Linoleic Acid is one of the most effective ingredients in skincare, strengthening the skin’s protective barrier while providing excellent moisturizing and healing properties. Two main fatty acids essential in the diet are linoleic (or omega-6) fatty acid and alpha-linolenic (or omega-3) acid. Both of them are polyunsaturated fatty acid, which means that they possess two or more double bonds and lack several hydrogen atoms that are found in saturated fatty acids.
Linoleic acid keeps the skin impermeable to water, but to exert other effects the compound must undergo specific metabolism. First step is conversion to gama-linolenic acid by delta-6-desaturation. Gama-linolenic acid is subsequently converted to dihomo-gamma-linolenic acid, which is in turn converted to arachidonic acid, but this may be getting to “techi” so we will move on….
Oils that are high in linoleic acid (an Omega-6 fatty acid) are best for those concerned with acne and breakout-prone skin. Most people prone to breakouts are actually lacking Linoleic Acid in their sebum, the skin’s natural oils, and instead have an overabundance of Oleic Acid, a (non-essential) Omega-9 fatty acid that helps the skin lock in and retain moisture but can easily get trapped in pores when not properly balanced with Linoleic Acid. Whereas Oleic Acid is quite rich, often leading to excess oil for people with acne-prone skin, Linoleic Acid is much thinner and lighter, and therefore suitable for those with oily/acne-prone skin.Topical application is the most efficient way to deliver this deficient fatty acid. Linoleic acid is an Omega- 6 essential fatty acid that the body cannot produce on its own and must be taken in by outside sources. Topical application of oils high in linoleic acid can help sebum from becoming sticky and hard. When our sebum is sticky, we end up with clogged pores and pimples.
A list of oils that are high in linoleic acid and low on the comedogenic scale:
- Guava Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 76% | Rating: unknown
- Safflower Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 73 – 77% | Rating: 0
- Evening Primrose Oil | Linoleic Acid: 72.6% | Rating: 2
- Poppy Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 72% | Rating: 0
- Papaya Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 72-77% | Rating: 2
- Grape Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 69.6% | Rating: 2
- Sunflower Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 65.7% | Rating: 0
- Watermelon Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 65.7% | Rating: 0
- Prickly Pear Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 60.5% | Rating: 0
- Pumpkin Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 57.2% | Rating: 2
- Black Cumin Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 55.6% | Rating: 1
- Hemp Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 54 – 56% | Rating: 0
- Raspberry Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 52.1% | Rating: 0
- Amaranth Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 46 – 50% | Rating: 0
- Sesame Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 45.6% | Rating: 2
- Rosehip Seed Oil | Linoleic Acid: 44.1% | Rating: 1
There are many oils that rate 0 on the comedogenic scale but may be lower in Linoleic acid than the oils listed above.