Expert warns: Be wary of skincare products containing PUFAs
According to Nutritionist Emma Sgourakis, you’d be surprised to learn that most of the commercial ‘anti-ageing’ creams on the market are actually comprised of the types of oils that can lead to accelerated skin ageing. Furthermore, these fatty acids can absorb into your bloodstream and tissues, contributing to systemic metabolic health issues.
Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), the types of fatty acids abundant in seed oils, are a predominant ingredient in most moisturisers, and unbeknownst to many, accelerate the ageing of cells by causing oxidative damage. They are molecularly fragile and unstable, easily damaged with exposure to heat, light and oxygen.
Sgourakis is a nutritionist with twenty years clinical experience, and cofounder of Saturée, a leading Australian owned skincare and supplements company. Her business partner is Kitty Blomfield, a well-known and highly respected health and wellness icon.
“Most consumers are simply unaware of the dangers of having too many PUFAs in their diets and skincare products. However, once they learn about the realities of what PUFAs do, they are quickly motivated to avoid them,” Sgourakis said.
Polyunsatured oils that should be avoided in foods and topical skincare products
"Examples of some common oils that are polyunsaturated, that should be avoided in foods and topical skincare products include: sunflower oil, safflower oil, almond oil, grape seed oil, peanut oil, soy oil, canola oil, vegetable oil, sesame oil; and flaxseed oil," Sgourakis said.
What exactly are PUFAS
“Simply put, there are two main classes of fats/oils. These include saturated fatty acids which are molecularly stable and unsaturated fatty acids which are molecularly unstable,” Sgourakis said.
"Saturated fatty acids are molecularly stable and covered in hydrogen atoms. They resist oxidative damage (don’t easily go rancid) with exposure to heat, light and oxygen. This is what makes them ideal compared to unsaturated fatty acids. Unsaturated fatty acids are molecularly unstable. They are missing at least one pair of hydrogen atoms, leaving carbon atoms connected by a double bond. Fatty acids having one double bond are called monounsaturated fatty acids, and those with more than one double bond are called polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs). This structural defect makes them vulnerable to oxidative damage, with exposure to heat, light and oxygen. The more double bonds, the more unstable and pro-ageing the oil is."
Old fashioned stable fats and oils that are highly saturated
"When it comes to highly saturated old fashioned stable fats and oils, there are plenty to choose from. These include: coconut oil, coconut derived triglycerides (Caprylic/capric triglycerides), cocoa butter, ghee, butter, shea butter and tallow," Sgourakis emphasised.
PUFAs are ageing
“Much of the premature ageing of our skin is actually driven by the PUFAs that we apply and ingest. Sunburn is hastened by PUFAs oxidising with prolonged UV exposure. Age spots are also driven by the oxidation of PUFAs reacting with estrogen and stored iron. Furthermore, when the body absorbs and metabolises the PUFAs, it creates two powerful families of inflammatory mediators: prostaglandins and leukotrienes, which are implicated in many chronic diseases.” Sgourakis said.
“So just by putting PUFAs on your skin, you’re causing it to age faster. But this is not new information; in an editorial by Pinckey published in the June 1973 issue of the American Heart Journal showed that the unsaturated fats hasten skin ageing. Sadly the skincare industry ignored this fact and powered on, creating inferior products loaded with polyunsaturated industrial seed oils,” Sgourakis said.
PUFAs are estrogenic
“PUFAs are estrogenic in nature as they act as precursors for prostaglandins. This is concerning because when you increase estrogen in the skin, it ages the skin very quickly due to the stimulation of the production of cortisol, which accelerates every known symptom of ageing. The lower your body’s cortisol levels, the younger you look. So applying PUFAs to your skin leads to elevating cortisol on the skin and in the tissues, ageing you prematurely,” Sgourakis warned.
Other problematic ingredients in skincare products that should be avoided
“There is increasing awareness about common skincare ingredients that are potentially toxic and should be avoided. These include silicones, petroleum derivatives, parabens and more. Consumers not only need to avoid PUFAs they also need to be just as cautious of other nasty ingredients,” Sgourakis said.
"Examples of ingredients to reconsider applying to your skin, your largest organ include: titanium dioxide, aluminium compounds, polymers, silicones, petroleum derivatives, mineral oils, PEGS, parabens, xxybenzone, phthalates; and carbomers."
Opting for skincare without PUFAs and toxins
“With so many skincare products on the market, we understand that it can be extremely overwhelming to know what to choose. Big brands have big budgets to market and advertise their products in such a way to sway you to think that what you’re buying is good and beneficial for your skin, when in fact they’re detrimental,” Sgourakis added.
“It is so important to understand why you should choose skincare (and food products) that contain mostly saturated fats. Polyunsaturated oils (PUFAs) are molecularly fragile, and certainly not ‘anti-ageing’, while saturated fats are stable and protective.
“If you’re going to put something on your skin, or in your body, you should want it to be non-toxic, made with the best quality ingredients, and biologically appropriate. People need to be as discerning about the ingredients in their moisturiser bottle, as they are about the ingredients in their food, because the reality is, a percentage of what you rub on your skin topically will end up making it into your bloodstream.”
Founded three years ago by fitness and nutritional expert Kitty Blomfield and certified Nutritionist Emma Sgourakis, Saturée produces high quality skincare and nutritional supplements that contain no polyunsaturated oils (PUFAs), fillers or non-nutritious additives. Saturée is French for saturated, which is fitting for the company’s skincare line, which contains saturated fats. Saturée produces a broad range of unique products made from the highest quality, cleanest raw materials. Their revolutionary skincare skincare range is based in saturated fats, with scientifically proven skin-loving nutrients, and is completely non-toxic. While PUFAs are molecularly fragile and unstable with exposure to heat, light and oxygen, saturated fats are stable and protective. There are seven products in Saturée’s supplements range and four products in the skincare range. Blomfield and Sgourakis are currently working on expanding their product range with increasing demand for their formulations worldwide.