The benefits of vegetable oils to rebalance the skin

When skin is oily, unbalanced or even acneic, it is often mistakenly thought that vegetable oils will worsen its condition. On the contrary, vegetable oils are rich in vitamins and fatty acids ideal for rebalancing the skin.


The skin is protected on its surface by sebum, a substance produced by the pilosebaceous glands. Sebum is a complex mixture of lipids, in which fatty acids, in free form or triglyceride, and squalene are found.
Sebum protects the skin thanks to its various functions: photoprotection, antimicrobial activity, antioxidant activity or anti-inflammatory activity.


Acne is a disease associated with a disorder of the pilosebaceous gland. This disorder leads to the production of large amounts of sebum (hypperseborhea), often mistakenly referred to as the sole cause of acne. In reality, more than the amount of sebum produced, it is the composition of sebum that is different in people with acne.
The sebum of acneic people is deficient in linoleic acid.2 But linoleic acid plays an important role for the good health of the skin. It is a fatty acid that has antimicrobial properties helping the skin microbiota to fight skin infections by pathogenic microorganisms. A deficiency in linoleic acid in the sebum also causes a deterioration of the skin’s barrier function and therefore an increase in inflammatory phenomena.
When the skin is exposed to UV rays, squalene, another component of sebum, is degraded (called peroxidation). The degradation products of squalene are comedogenic and pro-inflammatory. That’s why sebum contains vitamin E, an antioxidant molecule. But acne sebum contains less vitamin E.

The benefits of vegetable oils

Unlike mineral oils derived from petroleum and totally inert for the skin, vegetable oils have molecules assimilable and similar to those which compose it. Thus vegetable oils have a very strong affinity with human sebum. They will therefore strengthen sebum and rebalance the skin.
Vegetable oils are rich in various fatty acids. Their composition varies according to the plant from which they come. Some, like wheat germ oil, have a composition rich in linoleic acid (60% of its composition), and are therefore indicated to fill the deficiency of sebum in linoleic acid observed in people with acne.
Other vegetable oils are very rich in vitamin E such as sunflower oil. Their application to the skin will therefore enrich sebum with vitamin E and thus protect it from harmful damage caused by daily exposure to UV rays.
Finally, some oils, such as pomegranate oil or jojoba oil, have a composition very similar to that of sebum. Their application on the skin will strengthen the hydrolipidic film and thus regulate the overproduction of sebum to rebalance oily skin.

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1. Picardo, M.; Ottaviani, M.; Camera, E.; Mastrofrancesco, A., Sebaceous gland lipids. Dermato-endocrinology 2009, 1, (2), 68-71.
2. Downing, D. T.; Stewart, M. E.; Wertz, P. W.; Strauss, J. S., Essential fatty acids and acne. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology 1986, 14, (2, Part 1), 221-225.