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Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Vitamin F

Woman applying eye cream

Caroline Tompkins / Refinery29 for Getty Images 

The overwhelming opinion within the skincare community is that vitamin F should be your skin's new BFF. But what is it? Well, in short, vitamin F is fat. In skincare, vitamin F is used to represent linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid that is rich in omega-6. Fats are also known as lipids, and they're incredibly important when it comes to maintaining a strong, healthy stratum corneum (the protective outer layer of the skin). If your skin barrier function is working optimally, it'll prevent aggressors from getting in and causing water loss. We spoke to Jeannel Astarita, founder, and CEO of Just Ageless, a premier body sculpting and beauty lab in Manhattan. Astarita swears by vitamin F, saying, "[Vitamin F is] an ideal ingredient in post-treatment care due to [its] anti-inflammatory, healing, nourishing and moisturizing properties. It is necessary for the development of the lipid membrane of our cells, giving them resiliency."

Vitamin F

  • Type of ingredient: Vitamin, Fatty Acid
  • Main benefits: Hydrates, replenishes, is high in antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, restores the skin's barrier.
  • Who should use it: In general, all skin types would benefit from vitamin F usage, but especially those with acneic skin.
  • How often can you use it?: Vitamin F is safe to use twice a day, morning and night.
  • Works well with: Hydrators, linoleic acid, anti-aging products, and SPF products.
  • Don't use with: In general, vitamin F can be used with all ingredients safely.

What Is Vitamin F?

Vitamin F is, well, a vitamin—but not by standard definition. It more accurately fits the description of a fat, essential fatty acid, or lipid. "Vitamin F is an essential fatty acid meaning it is absolutely essential to the growth and regeneration of healthy cells, but we cannot synthesize it on our own.", states Astarita. You've probably seen many skincare products formulated with this potent ingredient, but it's most often labeled as linoleic acid (which is an omega-6 essential fatty acid). Vitamin F can be sourced in a multitude of food choices, such as almonds, chia seeds, hemp seeds, and egg yolks, and can also be found in a handful of essential oils such as rosehip, chia, and argan. And while it's important to slather vitamin F onto your face and body, eating good fats can also help to nourish your skin, hair, and nails from the inside out. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect, and as we all know by now, inflammation is one of the critical causes of aging. A little science for you: Inside the body, omega-6 is used to make ceramide I, which is a vital part of a healthy skin barrier. It helps your skin's cells retain moisture. Skin that lacks vitamin F can look dry, dull, scaly, and be acne-prone. Studies have found that people with atopic dermatitis generally require ceramide I.

Benefits of Vitamin F for Skin

Vitamin F is a highly beneficial—and necessary—ingredient for all skin types.

  • Retains moisture: Considered an omega-6 essential fatty acid, Vitamin F becomes ceramide when used on the skin, a hydrating ingredient that also protects the skin's barrier and retains moisture.
  • Reduces inflammation: Vitamin F can be exceptionally beneficial for those with inflammatory skin issues, such as dermatitis and psoriasis.
  • Works wonders for all skin types: Vitamin F is wonderful for all skin types when used topically. Yes, even acne-prone skin. Studies show that those who experience acne were able to reduce the pustule size by 25% in as little as one month by applying linoleic acid topically.
  • Keeps skin safe: It helps to protect the outer most layer of the skin from UV light, pollution, and infections.

Side Effects of Vitamin F

Vitamin F has no known side effects.

How to Use It

Vitamin F can be found in various forms and is incorporated in many different skincare products. From serums to oils to creams, vitamin F is a valuable ingredient that many brands are utilizing. The proper way to use it varies depending on the product, but the pure form of the oil can be used both morning and night as part of your daily routine. 

The Best Products With Vitamin F

True Botanicals Calm Pure Radiance Oil
True Botanicals Calm Pure Radiance Oil $110

Featuring oils packed with vitamin F such as chia, hemp, and rosehip, this Radiance Oil by True Botanicals comes highly recommended by Astarita.

Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil
Pai Light Work Rosehip Cleansing Oil $56

Another recommendation from Astarita, this Pai cleansing oil includes potent vitamin F components, such as sunflower seed oil and rosehip oil. What's even more impressive—this cleanser also won the Byrdie Eco Beauty Award for 2019! Safe for all skin types, Light Work gently and effectively removes all makeup and debris from the day.

True Botanicals Renew Pure Radiance Oil
True Botanicals Renew Pure Radiance Oil $110

Another potent product from True Botanicals, this Renew Pure Radiance Oil is loaded with active vitamin F ingredients such as chia seed oil, hemp oil, rosehip oil, and grapeseed oil. Perfect for plumping fine lines and wrinkles, Astarita mentions this oil as one of her favorites. 

Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil
Pai Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil $44

Pai's BioRegenerate Oil is formulated with rosehip oil, which is rich in vitamin F. Perfect for those with sensitive skin, this oil gently heals, regenerates, hydrates, and evens the skin tone. This is a multi-faceted, highly recommended product by Astarita.

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