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Vitamin F: the skincare superhero you didn’t know you needed

Never heard of Vitamin F? Get ready to add another step to your skincare routine


When it comes to superstar skincare ingredients, you’re probably clued up on things like Vitamin Chyaluronic acid and retinol. But one ingredient you might not be so familiar with is Vitamin F, which is known for its skin-boosting qualities.

So, what’s the deal with Vitamin F? Well, first thing’s first – Vitamin F is, somewhat confusingly, not a vitamin. It’s actually a term for two fats, which are called alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid. But what’s so great about Vitamin F when it comes to your skin? We asked an expert to find out.

What is Vitamin F?

Unlike things like Vitamin D or C, Vitamin F is not a traditional vitamin. “A vitamin is a term to describe something that can produce an effect on the body. For example, vitamins A to D all act on hair, skin and nails by entering into the bloodstream and then acting on those receptors,” says Dr Angela Tewari, a GetHarley clinician and a consultant dermatologist who runs Dermatology Studios. “But Vitamin F is an interesting new term. It’s not a typical type of vitamin, but it’s made up of good fats. I think it’s come into play because people like the term ‘vitamins’ – they feel like it’s giving them goodness.”

Vitamin F is made up of two fats – the aforementioned (and catchily-named) alpha-linolenic acid and linoleic acid. “Alpha-linolenic acid is an isomer of linoleic acid, so it just acts slightly differently. You can find alpha-linoleic acid in various oils. It can be found in olive oil and linseed oil has very high quantities of it,” explains Dr Tewari. Flaxseeds, chia seeds, walnuts and almonds are also good sources of Vitamin F, according to Dr Tewari. 

What does Vitamin F do for your skin?

“These oils also are also very nourishing from the outside for your skin,” says Dr Tewari. “It helps with dryness, and because the skin membrane is made of certain fats, it helps to replenish those. Over a period of time, it can help maintain your skin barrier.” Things like hemp seed cream can be great for dry hands, while almond oil is ideal for using on your scalp and hair, says Dr Tewari.


Is Vitamin F suitable for all skin types?

The short answer is: yes, although Dr Tewari warns that those with acne prone skin should be wary of using heavy creams that might block your pores and make your acne worse. “But it’s definitely good for people whose skin tends to feel parched. It’s useful for people with dry skin and for skin that’s older,” she says. A moisturiser with Vitamin F can be useful to use after a holiday somewhere hot when your skin is more dehydrated, but it’s also handy for cold weather. “You lose more moisture from the skin during the colder months when the air is less humid,” says Dr Tewari.

What’s the best way to use Vitamin F?

One great way to get the benefits of Vitamin F’s oils is through an oil-rich moisturiser. Dr Tewari recommends using this kind of product at nighttime to avoid feeling greasy during the day. “In terms of moisturisers, you have two types – a lotion which is an oil in water, and then a thicker cream-based one which is water and oil,” says Dr Tewari. “In order to get the real benefits from the oils in Vitamin F, I’d recommend a more oil-based moisturiser.”

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