If you’re into skincare, you’re likely well versed in most of the vitamins that dermatologists and industry experts recommend you slather on your face. Chances are you’ve seen products laced with vitamins A, B, C, E, and even D—but have you heard of vitamin F?
First things first, it’s important to note that vitamin F is actually not a vitamin at all. “The name Vitamin F is somewhat misleading,” says Lian Mack, MD, board-certified dermatologist. “Vitamin F is a fat, not a vitamin, and was improperly named by scientists in the 1920s. It consists of two kinds of polyunsaturated fats: alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and linoleic acid (LA). ALA is an omega 3 fatty acid.”
Though vitamin F is a misnomer, it still has tons of skin-friendly benefits. The skin barrier is a hot topic right now, and fats like vitamin F are critical to supporting it. “[Vitamin F] helps to improve the structure and function of the epidermal barrier, helping to reduce dryness by aiding in the retention of water,” says Mack. In other words, anyone with dry or damaged skin will see tons of improvement from mixing in vitamin F, but it’s a universal ingredient that anyone can use regardless of their skin type.
In addition to the effects that vitamin F can have on skin health, Mack explains that some studies show it may also have a hand in improving cardiovascular health, assisting infant brain development, and reducing inflammation. It may even help mitigate the risk of developing cognitive diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia.
In skincare, you’ll typically find vitamin F in barrier-supporting or moisturizing products. “Vitamin F is routinely found in skincare because it contributes to the development of ceramides, an important molecule found in the skin barrier,” says Mack. “By improving the functionality of the skin barrier, it’s helpful for conditions like eczema and psoriasis.” Keep reading to find some of our favorite skincare products that contain vitamin F.