Linoleic Acid



Linoleic Acid at a glance

  • Unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid found in corn, safflower, and sunflower oils
  • The most abundant fatty acid found in skin’s upper layers
  • Acts as an emollient and thickener
  • Research shows it’s an antioxidant, restorative, calming, and discolouration-fighting ingredient

Linoleic Acid description

Linoleic acid is an unsaturated omega-6 fatty acid found in corn, safflower, and sunflower oils. It is one of two essential fatty acids humans must obtain through diet. It is also the most abundant fatty acid found in skin’s epidermis. The body uses linoleic acid to make gamma linolenic acid (GLA), which plays a role in modulating inflammation. In cosmetics, it is used as an emollient and thickening agent. In addition, research shows it to be effective as a skin restorative, an antioxidant, and as a skin-soothing agent. There are even some studies demonstrating that it could have some discolouration fading properties due to its ability to inhibit excess melanin production. Since linoleic acid is a component of many edible oils, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ruled it safe as a direct and indirect food additive. In personal care products, it is used in amounts up to 21.8% in rinse-off cleansing products and 3.4% in leave-on products. The independent Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel deems it safe as used in cosmetics.

Linoleic Acid references

  • Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology, January 2018, pages 21-28
  • Dermatology Research and Practice, 2012, pages 9231-9234
  • Archives of Dermatological Research, 1998, issue 7, pages 375-381
  • Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 1998, issue 2, pages 56-58

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


We couldn't find this in our ingredient dictionary. We log all missing ingredients and make continuous updates.

Not rated

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.