Vitamins are a bit of a restricted journey along alphabet road. Start at A, travel down the line, yet you never seem to get too far. The ABCs are standard, K is the wildcard, and everything beyond—plus some in between—are pretty much non-existent.
Now, in what can only be described as a promising pit stop in the trip, comes vitamin F, the latest answer to more effective skin care formulations.
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British aesthetician Kimberly Sayer—she also has an eponymous organic skin care line that formulates with the vitamin—says it’s not completely accurate to tag the ingredient as “new” when it comes to topical use, but it does seem to be having a moment.
“Active ingredients such as vitamin C often get the limelight, but vitamin F facilitates these active ingredients and provides wonderful nutrients to the skin. It is typically seen in skin-nourishing formulations as linoleic acid, which can be found in oils like olive, safflower and sunflower.”
Sayer says vitamin F is probably best known for its ability to hydrate, plump and heal, but she also praises it as an excellent carrier oil that can “get below” the surface of the skin. “That’s why it is often used to facilitate the penetration of other active ingredients such as antioxidants.”
Perricone MD’s chief innovation officer, Chris Caires, also counts himself as a big fan of vitamin F and agrees it’s been trending for a while, even though we don’t always refer to it as such.
“Essential oils like argan, rosehip and chia are wildly popular because they contain vitamin F, which is the collection of unsaturated fats, like omega-3, -6, and -9s, that your body needs to obtain from diet. They are essential building blocks of your skin barrier, making up around 40 percent of the dry weight of your cellular membranes.”
This summer, Perricone MD launched the Essential Fx Collection, which contains a vitamin F blend featuring chia, flaxseed and macadamia seed oil. Caires specifically points to the star ingredient as “being unique in that its intensely hydrating properties can improve the skin’s moisture barrier, resulting in more supple, glowing skin.”
But with all its good-for-your-skin ingredients—including hitting that buzzword of “improving skin barrier”—in Caires’ opinion, it’s that word “fat” that may have played a part in why we haven’t heard more about it in the past.
“Fat has been this bad word for a long time, and so it’s been difficult to communicate the benefits of fats to consumers. Recently, people have been getting used to the idea of healthy fats, and some opinion leaders have started using the term vitamin F to describe the healthy, unsaturated fats your body needs to have healthy function.”
It’s the fat factor that Spokane, WA dermatologist Wm. Phillip Werschler, MD says makes the ingredient so beneficial.
“When taken orally, fatty acids are needed for normal growth and behavior and help with healthy cell membranes, hormone production and healthy immune function. When applied to the skin, vitamins F can supply a supple and a youthful appearance. In dermatology, vitamins F have been used to treat atopic dermatitis, used as transdermal delivery enhancers, and new studies suggest expedited healing of wounds.”
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