Seed Oils: The Truth About PUFAs & Your Skin

I know, I know. There's a lot of buzz about seed oils. They're natural, after all, so they must be good for your skin, right?

Hmmmm 🤔

Not quite.

Let me clarify: while some seed oils may be natural, they're not always beneficial for your skin. Not all natural ingredients are equal, and some seed oils provide a prime example. They may seem nourishing in skincare. But, their high polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) and iffy manufacturing can harm.

But what exactly are PUFAs, and why should you be concerned?

And is there a better option for achieving truly healthy, glowing skin? 

The Science Behind Seed Oils

What are PUFAs?

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are a type of fat found in various foods, including many plant-based oils. They're often touted as healthy fats, but it's important to understand that not all PUFAs are created equal. Some PUFAs are essential for our health, while others can be problematic, especially when it comes to skincare.

Now I’ll Tell You Why PUFAs Are Problematic for Skin…

Here are two key reasons:

  • Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs) are highly unstable and prone to oxidation when exposed to light, heat, or oxygen. This oxidation process creates harmful molecules called free radicals, which damage skin cells and trigger inflammation. This inflammation can manifest as redness, irritation, and over time, contribute to premature aging, including wrinkles and fine lines.
  • Your skin's natural barrier is like a shield, protecting it from moisture loss and environmental aggressors. PUFAs can weaken this barrier, making your skin more vulnerable to dryness, sensitivity, and even breakouts. It's like poking holes in your shield, leaving your skin defenseless against the elements.

    Let me elaborate more. 

    Your skin's natural barrier is crucial for maintaining its health and resilience. When you apply a face oil rich in PUFAs, it might feel hydrating at first. But as the PUFAs oxidize (especially if they are high in PUFAs or have been heated during processing), they can damage your skin barrier, leading to dryness, irritation, and increased sensitivity. 

    But first of all, what is oxidation? Think of it like this: have you ever seen an apple turn brown after being cut? Or a bicycle fender rusting over time? That's oxidation in action. In simple terms, oxidation is a chemical reaction where a substance loses electrons when exposed to oxygen.

    In the case of polyunsaturated fatty acids, oxidation occurs when these fats react with oxygen in the air. This process creates harmful molecules called free radicals, which are like tiny wrecking balls that can damage your skin cells and their protective barriers.

    High heat and light exposure can speed up this process, which is why seed oils that are heavily processed or exposed to sunlight are particularly prone to oxidation. Once oxidized, these PUFAs can no longer provide the benefits they once promised and instead become troublemakers for your skin.

    It's important to note that all oils contain some PUFAs, but certain oils are particularly high in PUFAs and are more susceptible to oxidation.

    "But they hydrate my skin?"

    Yes, initially. But the long-term effects can be detrimental.

    They may act like a double-edged sword and while they may offer some initial benefits, their instability and tendency to oxidize can lead to long-term damage to your skin's health and appearance.

    The Toxic Manufacturing Process

    Sadly, the problems with some seed oils don't end with their unstable PUFAs. The manufacturing process itself adds another layer of concern for your skin.

    Most commercial seed oils are extracted using a chemical solvent called hexane. Now, hexane isn't exactly the kind of ingredient you want hanging around in your skincare products. In fact, it's a neurotoxin, meaning it can potentially damage your nervous system. While most of the hexane is removed during processing, trace amounts may still remain in the oil. 

    And do you really want to be putting a neurotoxin, even in trace amounts, on your skin?

    Another thing is the refining process often involves blasting the oils with high heat. So we talked about PUFAs, right? Well, high heat is their worst nightmare. It accelerates their breakdown, creating even more harmful compounds like aldehydes and ketones. These compounds can irritate your skin, disrupt its barrier, and even contribute to premature aging.

    So, not only are seed oils inherently unstable due to their high PUFA content, but the manufacturing process can make them even more problematic. This raises important questions about the true benefits of these oils for your skin and highlights the importance of choosing skincare ingredients that are not only natural but also produced in a way that prioritizes your health and well-being.

    Seed Oils to Avoid for Healthy Skin

    Now that we've spilled the tea on PUFAs, let's talk about the usual suspects lurking in your skincare products. 

    These are the seed oils high in PUFAs that you might want to reconsider:

    • Sunflower oil: A popular choice, but unfortunately, it's packed with PUFAs that can oxidize and wreak havoc on your skin.
    • Safflower oil: Similar to sunflower oil, it's another high-PUFA oil that's best avoided in skincare.
    • Grapeseed oil: While it might seem like a healthier choice, grapeseed oil is still high in PUFAs and can contribute to skin issues.
    • Canola oil: This heavily processed oil is not only high in PUFAs but also raises concerns due to its potential for contamination and questionable manufacturing practices.
    • Soybean oil: Another high-PUFA oil that's best left out of your skincare routine.
    • Corn oil: This common cooking oil is also high in PUFAs and can contribute to inflammation and skin problems.

    Why are these oils particularly troublesome? 

    Well, their high PUFA content makes them more prone to oxidation, leading to the formation of those pesky free radicals we talked about earlier. Studies have even linked these oils to acne breakouts, premature aging, and other skin woes.

    Don’t Worry, Here Are Seed Oils That Are Good for Your Skin

    While it's important to be cautious of high-PUFA seed oils, not all seed oils are created equal. Some seed oils have a lower PUFA content and are less prone to oxidation, making them safer and potentially beneficial for your skin.

    Here are a few seed oils that are considered lower in PUFAs and can be incorporated into your skincare routine:

    • Jojoba Oil: Technically a liquid wax, jojoba oil closely resembles the sebum our skin naturally produces. It's deeply moisturizing, non-comedogenic (won't clog pores), and has anti-inflammatory properties. Jojoba oil is also highly stable and resistant to oxidation, making it a safer choice for your skin. It's often cold-pressed, a gentler extraction method that preserves its beneficial properties.
    • Meadowfoam Seed Oil: This oil is rich in antioxidants and has a stable structure, making it less prone to oxidation than other seed oils. It's known for its moisturizing and anti-aging properties. When cold-pressed, meadowfoam seed oil retains its natural antioxidants, further enhancing its skin benefits.
    • Pomegranate Seed Oil: Packed with antioxidants and punicic acid, pomegranate seed oil offers anti-inflammatory benefits and may help protect against sun damage. While it does contain some PUFAs, its antioxidant content helps to mitigate their potential negative effects. Cold-pressed pomegranate seed oil is the best option, as it preserves the oil's delicate nutrients.
    • Raspberry Seed Oil: This oil is a good source of antioxidants and essential fatty acids, offering protection against environmental stressors and promoting skin repair.  Look for cold-pressed raspberry seed oil, as it retains more of its beneficial nutrients and minimizes exposure to heat, which can damage the oil's delicate compounds.

    These are just a few examples of seed oils that can be beneficial for your skin. However, it's important to choose high-quality, cold-pressed oils that haven't been exposed to high heat or harsh processing methods. Look for oils that are stored in dark glass bottles to protect them from light and oxidation.

    Keep in mind that moderation is key. Even with lower PUFA oils, it's best to use them sparingly and incorporate them into a balanced skincare routine that includes other nourishing ingredients like tallow, shea butter, and essential oils.

    By doing so, you can harness the benefits of these oils while minimizing the potential risks associated with PUFAs.

    Why Does Your Skin Need More Saturated Fats?

    We've all heard the warnings about saturated fats, but what if we told you they're actually essential for healthy skin? It's true! Saturated fats aren't the villains they're often made out to be. 

    In fact, they play a crucial role in maintaining your skin's strength, resilience, and youthful glow.

    Here's how saturated fats benefit your skin:

    • They help create strong, flexible cell membranes that protect your skin from damage and keep it looking plump and youthful.
    • Saturated fats also help maintain your skin's natural barrier, the protective shield that keeps moisture in and irritants out. This means less dryness, irritation, and a healthier, more radiant complexion.

    Now, where can you find these skin-loving saturated fats? 

    One surprising source is tallow, a traditional ingredient that's making a comeback in the skincare world.

    Is Tallow Actually Good for Skin?

    Let's cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter: tallow isn't just good for your skin, it's fantastic. While it might seem like an unusual ingredient, tallow boasts a long history of use in skincare, and modern science is finally catching up to what our ancestors knew all along.

    First, let's address the naysayers. Some claim that tallow is greasy or pore-clogging. This couldn't be further from the truth. 

    High-quality tallow is remarkably similar to our skin's natural sebum, meaning it absorbs easily and won't leave you feeling like a greased-up pancake. In fact, it can actually help regulate oil production, making it a surprisingly great option for oily and acne-prone skin.

    Tallow is also a powerhouse of nutrients that your skin craves. It's loaded with vitamins A, D, E, and K, along with essential fatty acids that nourish and protect your skin from the inside out. These nutrients work together to deeply moisturize, soothe inflammation, and promote healing. Studies have even shown that tallow can help improve skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.

    Sky & Sol: Your Source for Tallow-Based Skincare


    At Sky & Sol, we believe in simple, yet powerful ingredients that work with your skin, not against it.

    For our sunscreen, our star ingredient, grass-fed tallow, is the foundation of our formulas. It's blended with other carefully selected oils and butters, like extra virgin olive oil, jojoba oil, and shea butter, chosen for their low PUFA content and skin-nourishing properties. These ingredients work in harmony to hydrate, soothe, and protect your skin without the risk of oxidation and inflammation associated with high-PUFA oils. 

    For an extra boost of antioxidants and healing properties, we add beeswax and propolis, nature's own anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial agents. And for sun protection, we use non-nano zinc oxide, a safe and effective mineral sunscreen that shields your skin from harmful UV rays without the potential risks associated with chemical sunscreens.

    And that's just for our sunscreen alone.

    We also have other skincare products, each carefully crafted with the same philosophy of using simple, nourishing ingredients that work with your skin's natural biology. From lip balms and moisturizers, our tallow-based products are designed to promote healthy, radiant skin from the inside out.

    We believe that skincare should be a joyful and empowering experience, not a source of confusion or worry. That's why we're committed to transparency and education, providing you with the information you need to make informed choices about your skin health. 

    Come explore our range of tallow-based skincare and discover the difference that truly natural, nourishing ingredients can make.

    See you there!

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