A Closer Look at Using Flaxseed Oil for Acne

young woman with white headband squeezing acne pimple on her right cheek

Flaxseed oil is a popular health food supplement and is a great plant source of the omega 3 fatty acid, alpha linolenic acid (ALA), fiber and antioxidants.

Omega 3 fatty acids, as well as omega 6 fatty acids, are considered essential for our health and have been shown to reduce inflammation and contribute to cardiovascular and neurological health.

It’s reported that some people who’ve taken flaxseed oil claimed to experience softer, healthier-looking skin with less acne.

However, it may not work for all types of acne and in some people the oil could make acne worse.

While there are limited scientific studies on specifically using flaxseed oil for acne, there is proven research on how healthy fats can affect skin health.

Omega 3 Fatty Acids & Flaxseed Oil may Reduce Inflammation in Acne

There are a number of published studies showing the anti-inflammatory effect of omega 3 fatty acids and their role in enhancing skin health:

  1. A recent study in the 2010 July issue of Clinics of Dermatology reports that the fatty acids, alpha linolenic acid (ALA) and gamma linolenic acid (GLA) can help maintain the integrity of your skin barrier, prohibit inflammation, reduce the risk for sunburn and promote wound healing.
  2. Another study by German researchers compared giving women 2.2 grams of flaxseed oil daily versus placebo for 12 weeks. They found flaxseed oil reduced skin inflammation, improved skin hydration and lessened scaling and peeling.
  3. Public health studies have shown that people who ate diets high in omega 3 fatty acids had lower rates of acne, compared to people eating diets containing high amounts of omega 6 fatty acids.
  4. An abstract submitted by The Department of Dermatology at  University Connecticut Health Center reported on the skin-healing properties of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids, linoleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid (both found in flaxseed oils). They claim that these fatty acids help reduce skin inflammation and promote wound healing. These fatty acids can be helpful for numerous skin conditions, including acne, dermatitis, psoriasis and lupus.
  5. An article in the 2016 edition of Advances in Dermatology and Allergology called “Significance of Diet in Treated and Untreated Acne Vulgaris” cited a study on a group of 1000 teenagers from North Carolina. The researchers found that teenagers who had the highest intake of fish and seafood showed the lowest signs of acne, oily skin, acne cysts and pustules.

How Flaxseed Oil can Treat Acne

pile of red flaxseed oil soft gels for acne

The above research appears to indicate that omega 3 fatty acids can play an important role in reducing an inflammatory environment in the skin and improving overall skin health.

You may find many anecdotal reports from people who’ve claimed to use flaxseed oils for acne.

Acne.org. is a personal website created by a long-time acne sufferer Dan Kern.

His product review section called Flaxseed Oil Reviews has a large number of opinions and experiences of people who’ve tried using flaxseed oil for acne.

250 ml bottle of organic flaxseed oil for acne

The following is a summary of the overall experiences of people who’ve tried using flaxseed oil for acne:

  • The most effective dosage for acne appeared to be 1 to 2 tablespoons of flaxseed oil per day.
  • The bottled liquids seemed to give better results than capsules with noticeable results appearing within 1 – 2 weeks of daily usage.
  • Overall results also seem to depend on the total omega 3 fatty acid dosage per day.

The majority of users experienced the following results:

  • Better skin tone
  • Less breakouts
  • Reduced redness and puffiness
  • Healthier-looking skin

While it appears that flaxseed oil may be a safe and effective treatment for acne, it may not be effective for all skin types.

Overall results may depend on the severity of acne, baseline skin condition and how the duration of treatment.

It also appears that some people with cystic acne and severely clogged pores may not achieve the same results as someone with less severe acne conditions.

There are other things you can look at that may help improve your acne.

Your diet and lifestyle may also affect your skin’s health  and regular exercise and relaxation techniques can reduce stress levels.

Drinking plenty of fresh water and including fruits and vegetables in your diet may also help ensure your body receives the nutrients it needs to grow and repair itself.

Here’s a list of Amazon.com’s Most Popular Acne Treatments that you may find helpful for your individual skin care needs.

Research References:

Healing fats of the skin: the structural and immunologic roles of the omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids. Clinics in Dermatology. 2010 Jul-Aug;28(4):440-51.

Acne vulgaris, mental health and omega-3 fatty acids: a report of cases. Lipids in Health and Disease. 2008 Oct 13;7:36.

Linoleic and linolenic acids and acne vulgaris. British Journal of Dermatology 2008, 158:201-2.

Adolescent acne and dietary iodine. Archives of Dermatology. 1961 Dec;84:898-911.

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