What would you do if you found out your favorite moisturizer was actually aging your skin? Would you still use it?
Many of the skin care products we use (particularly moisturizers) contain substances called polyunsaturated fats. You may have heard of these already, because polyunsaturated fats are also included in many of the foods in our diets.
Why is Polyunsaturated Fat Bad for Your Skin?
The effects of polyunsaturated fats on your skin may take a long time to see, but the results are sure to leave you crying.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids, sometimes shortened to “PUFAs,” have chemical properties that can make our skin more vulnerable to what beauty chemists call “free radicals.” Free radicals are groups of unstable atoms that can cause chemical reactions when exposed to oxygen.
What’s so bad about free radicals on our skin? Free radicals are highly reactive and can damage our skin cells when our moisturizers interact with the air and oxidize. Considering how many skin care products contain PUFAs, that means a lot of them are actually aging skin instead of making it more beautiful. Not to mention it’s a recipe for failure if you’re also using anti-aging creams.
The Science Behind PUFAs
As your beauty chemist, of course I’m going to give you the scientific explanation for why the PUFAs in your skin care products are speeding up the aging process on your skin.
All unsaturated fats have a double bond within a part of their chemical makeup called a fatty acid chain. Some unsaturated fats, like PUFAs, have multiple double bonds within their fatty chains, and the more double bonds within a fatty acid chain, the more unstable the fat is. The free radicals released from the oxidation process can bond with cell molecules, damaging cell DNA (which will eventually replicate, spreading the damage). Even worse, UV rays from the sun can speed up the oxidation process.
PUFAs to Avoid in Your Skin Care Regimen
PUFAs are a key ingredient in many of the skin care products we use because many of them do a decent job of hydrating our skin.
Some common skin care ingredients that are PUFAs are:
- Palm oil
- Flax oil
- Peanut oil
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
- Sunflower oil
Always Check Your Skin Care for PUFAs and Other Harmful Chemicals
So the next time you’re shopping for a face cream, make sure to check the ingredients list for PUFAs. If you see those little letters after an oil or fat, put it back on the shelf and walk away! Chances are, that cream is only going to do more harm than good in the long run. Check out my Toxic Ten for ideas on what to look for in your skin care’s ingredient lists.
Instead, look for moisturizers that rely on saturated fats to hydrate your skin. My favorites are shea butter, coconut oil, and Vitamin D.