The benefits of vegetable oils to moisturize the skin

When the skin is weakened, vegetable oils are indicated to restore the barrier function and thus nourish and moisturize the skin.

The skin: a natural barrier against dehydration

It is the most superficial part of the skin, the one in contact with our environment, which will play this role. The stratum corneum is made of cells called corneocytes. The barrier function is ensured thanks to the presence of a cement around the cells: the intercellular cement. This matrix is composed of complex hydrophobic lipids (ceramides, cholesterol, phospholipids, free fatty acids) that will prevent water from evaporating and the hydrophilic molecules from penetrating the skin.
The composition of this intercellular cement may be altered, resulting in failure of the barrier function. Skin becomes permeable, allowing water to escape and external irritants to penetrate. Skin becomes dry, scaly, tense and itchy.

Vegetable oils moisturize, nourish and repair dry skin

Vegetable oils rich in complex fatty acids and unsaponifiables (beta-sitosterols, tocopherols, campesterols), like sesame oil or apricot oil, contain some of the essential elements for the formation of the intercellular cement. These oils will strengthen this cement, improving the skin’s moisture.
Vegetable oils also have a great affinity to human sebum. Some of them, like pomegranate oil or jojoba oil, have a very similar composition to that of sebum. Their application on the skin strengthens the hydrolipidic film.
Finally, vegetable oils help to repair the skin thanks to their unsaturated fatty acids. Linoleic acid is the major fatty acid found in healthy epidermis. Man cannot synthetize this fatty acid, it must be brought to the body by food or topical application of products containing it. A dry and scaly skin characterizes a deficiency in linoleic acid. Some vegetable oils, like rosehip oil or grape seed oil are composed up to 75% of linoleic acid.

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1. Ziboh, V. A.; Miller, C. C.; Cho, Y., Metabolism of polyunsaturated fatty acids by skin epidermal enzymes: generation of antiinflammatory and antiproliferative metabolites. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2000, 71, (1), 361s-366s.