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[Gamma]-Linolenic acid in the oil decreases skin roughness and TEWL and increases skin moisture in normal and irritated human skin
Researchers have discussed use of polyunsaturated fatty acid supplements to treat atopic dermatitis (AD) for more than half a century.[1,15,18,19] Oil from evening primrose seeds has attracted special attention because it contains [Gamma]-linolenic acid (GLA). Morse et al found that oral administration of this off significantly reduces the general severity of AD, in a dose-dependent manner.
The fatty-acid profile of blood lipids in AD patients shows an increase in the proportion of linoleic acid, with a decrease in arachidonic acid and other metabolites of linoleic acid. These findings suggest defective functioning of the enzyme [Delta]-6-desaturase in AD.
In a previous communication, we reported that systemic administration of evening primrose oil leads to smoother skin. This evidence has provoked much interest as to whether topical application gives similar results.
Treating skin roughness: The skin-smoothing effect of a cosmetic is noticed by the customer and is a decisive factor in its acceptance. Indeed, skin roughness is one of the most important topics addressed by the cosmetic industry. The study we report here tests whether creams with natural vegetable oils, containing mainly either linoleic (LA) or [Gamma]-linolenic acid, could improve skin condition. To our knowledge, this is the first study with a proper LA control, demonstrating that the skin-improving effect of borage oil is at least in part due to its high GLA content. We measured roughness, skin moisture and TEWL in normal and surfactant-induced scaly skin. Details are found in "Experimental Design and Procedures," on the next page.