When it comes to choosing the right soap, there are two main types of fatty acids that you need to be aware of – linoleic and oleic. Both of these acids have their own unique properties that make them ideal for different skin types. But what are they? And which one should you be using? Here’s everything you need to know about linoleic and oleic handmade soaps in order to find the one that’s best for your skin type and requirements!
What are the differences between linoleic and oleic acids?
While both fatty acids are moisturizing for the skin this is where the similarities end. Known as a rich fatty acid found in plant oils such as Olive oil, Almond oil, or Cocoa Butter, oleic acid is responsible for these oils’ being high on the comedogenic scale. While oils higher in Linoleic acids are thinner and lower on the scale. The thinner nature of oils high in linoleic acids allows them to easily absorb into the skin without clogging the pores in your skin.
Another critical difference between these fatty acids is the body’s production, as our body can not synthesize linoleic acids on its own. Yet being an omega-6 acid it is essential in stimulating skin cell growth and regulating the body’s metabolism. Whereas, Oleic acids are omega-9 monounsaturated fatty acids that are produced by the body. However, not everyone synthesizes oleic acids at the same rate.
What Skin Types Do They Work Best For?
In reality, healthy skin requires both of these fatty acids in an equilibrium balance. Generally speaking, our skin is in a constant balancing act between the two acids trying to interact with each other. Where people with oily skin produce too many oleic acids for the linoleic acids in their bodies. And similarly, people with dry skin have low levels of oleic acid and are also low on omega-3 fats, Linolenic fatty acids. Another essential fatty acid our bodies can not produce on their own.
The result of this imbalance is either oily or dry skin, but both conditions can be improved by adding specific soaps that will re-balance the levels of fatty acids in the skin’s sebum. People with oily skin should avoid soaps with high levels of oleic acids. While soaps containing linoleic acids will help regulate sebum production and keep pores clear from clogging up.
On the other hand, people with dry skin need to use soaps containing higher amounts of oleic acids which helps add moisture back into your epidermis. However, this doesn’t mean you can ignore the possibility of clogging your pores. Again, maintaining levels of linoleic acids will help regulate sebum production and keep pores clear from clogging up.
An additional fatty acid that is beneficial to dry skin is Linolenic acid. As mentioned above this is another essential fatty acid our bodies have to acquire from outside sources.
Are There Any Disadvantages Of These Acids?
For the most part, there are very few disadvantages to the end users of soaps made with either of these acids as long as the soapmaker has formulated the recipe well. Saying that soaps that contain too many oleic acids can have a slimy feel or in reverse, too little oleic acid can result in a soap that does not lather well.
As for linoleic acids, the disadvantages of this acid fall more on the producer rather than the end user. Since oils high in linoleic acids tend to have a shorter shelf life. For this reason, most handmade soaps are not high in linoleic acids even though they do give soaps a luxuriously silky feel.
Choosing The Right Soap Based On The Properties Of Each Acid
So, which fatty acid should you look for in a soap? It all depends on your skin type. If you have oily skin, then you’ll want to use a soap that is lower in oleic acids with higher linoleic acids. On the other hand, if you have dry skin, you’ll want to use a soap that’s higher in oleic acid, with higher amounts of linolenic acid also being a plus.
However, most soapmakers in general do not list their soaps as Linoleic or Oleic Handmade Soaps. Nor do they often list the percentages of fatty acid properties in their soaps or so you may need to do a little research on their ingredients. Some helpful resources for determining oils and their fatty acid profiles may want to read this blog.