We have all heard of the benefits of flaxseed oil for our health. In fact, flaxseed oil (also called linseed oil) is now a staple of a healthy diet, being that “magic ingredient” that’s always added to amazing smoothie combinations.
But are the benefits from flaxseed oil only internal, when digested? Or is there more to this oil? Well, it turns out that flaxseed oil has additional benefits indeed, and some of them are great for the skin.
So, welcome to our guide to flaxseed oil for skin, its benefits, and uses!
Flaxseed oil, which is also commonly known as linseed oil, is made from the seeds of the flax, or linseed plant. As you can assume, flaxseed oil is made by grinding flax seeds and pressing them so hard that they release their natural oil.
If something about linseed sounds vaguely familiar, but you can’t quite put your finger on it, we can’t blame you. Let us ask you this: does the word “linen” mean anything to you?
We’re sure it does! And that’s how linen actually was created and got its name - all linen is made out of linseed, aka, flaxseed. Pretty impressive, right?
Since times immemorial, humans were growing, domesticating, and harvesting linseed, and turning it into all sorts of useful things. Linseed, or flax, is a blue flowering plant that’s domestic to the cooler regions of the world, and has been historically grown in Germany, France, Switzerland, the prairies of Canada, and as historical data shows, it was also known to people in Egypt, the Middle East, going as far as India and China.
Besides being used for making linen pants, shirts, bedsheets, underwear, and table linen, linseed was also used as a food additive, both in the form of seeds and in the form of oil. It’s not exactly clear when linseed got its second name as flax, but it is speculated that flax, and flaxseed, come from the unspun fibers of the plant, which were called “flax.” And from there on, people began referring to linseed as flaxseed as well.
Flax is known for the remarkable benefits of its flaxseed oil as well. Being rich in Omega-3 fatty acids, flaxseed oil is widely known and appreciated for its many benefits to our health, such as reducing inflammation, boosting our immune system, protecting our heart, slowing down the growth of cancer and so on.
But what about applying flaxseed oil directly to our skin? Does flaxseed oil have any benefits when applied topically or should we just make sure to ingest it through our food?
Actually, if you were consuming flax seeds or flaxseed oil with the intention of improving the look and condition of your skin, ingesting flaxseed oil may not be the ideal way to do it. In fact, applying flaxseed oil topically, directly over the skin may be a lot more effective than when taking linseed (flax) as a supplement of sorts.
Note: Before we proceed, you should remember that flaxseed can easily spoil if not protected properly. Store it in amber, or other darkly-colored glass bottles or containers, and always store it in a cool and dark place. With that being said, here are some of the best uses of flaxseed oil for the skin.
The high concentration of Omega-3 makes flaxseed oil one of the most potent anti-inflammatory ingredients out there. This means that flaxseed oil is also very efficient at soothing dry, irritated skin, but that it can also help you get rid of acne, or prevent it.
Flaxseed oil ticks nearly all the boxes when it comes to benefits for the skin on your face. It is a good moisturizer, because it locks the water molecules close to your skin, keeping it hydrated. Additionally, the precious Omega-3 refreshes your skin cells and rebalance any discoloration, making it firmer, more elastic, and provide you with an overall clearer looking skin.
But what’s best is the super simple mode of application. All you need to do is just pour some flaxseed oil on your skin and give it a gentle rub. Massaging your face with some flaxseed oil a couple of times a day will improve your looks, but it will also make your moisturizers and skincare creams a lot more efficient.
Finally, flaxseed oil can be used as a natural, and non-irritating makeup remover. You know the drill - just pour several drops of flaxseed oil on a piece of cotton, and dab away. There’s a reason why flaxseed oil is used to dilute oil paints instead of turpentine. It doesn’t have that terrible smell, and it just works.
But flaxseed oil can have specific uses too, because it possesses some very unique properties. Apart from being able to maintain our skin’s health in general, flaxseed oil can also be used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles.
Our skin is largely made out of collagen, which is a protein. And logically, our skin needs more protein to maintain itself. Flaxseed oil, being rich in Omega-3 fatty acids is ideal for its purpose. When applied topically, Omega-3 helps the skin repair itself, which can smoothen out wrinkles and iron out any other irregularities.
All you need is some fresh flaxseed oil. Take 1 tablespoon and rub it over any wrinkles that you would like to see softened up. You can begin in the morning, and do this up to four times a day. Alternatively, if you don’t have a bottle of flaxseed oil lying around, you can use flaxseed oil supplements. These usually come in the form of soft, plastic capsules. What you will need to do is take a capsule, cut a small opening around its top, and squeeze out the flaxseed oil on your hands, or over the desired area.
Slowly but surely, the oil will make your skin healthier and more elastic, and improve its tone and texture. And the wrinkles? Well, chances are you’ll barely notice them.
Eczema is one of the most common skin disorders, one that results in an irritated, dry, flaky, and unbearably itchy skin. Life with eczema is especially challenging, since one is not just required to resist the urge to itch, but also follow a set of rules so as not to irritate their eczema-prone skin. In short, any sort of help is welcome!
And this is where flaxseed oil enters the picture, especially when applied topically. The Omega-3 fatty acid is particularly well-suited for the epidermal cells of our skin. These skin cells line the uppermost layer of our skin, and possess the ability to convert the essential fatty acids from flaxseed oil into substances called prostaglandins. Prostaglandin are hormone-like substances that regulate the maintenance, growth, and renewal of the tissues in our bodies, and affect the health of the skin as well. This means that applying flaxseed oil topically over eczema-prone skin can sort of boost its natural defense capabilities. This will result with less itching, less dryness, and less flakiness. It is no wonder that flaxseed oil is commonly used in moisturizers, body lotions, sunscreens and other types of skincare products.
Sadly, eczema isn’t the only common skin disorder. The second place definitely belongs to psoriasis, which is similar to eczema, but worse. Psoriasis is a skin condition that’s largely caused by the immune system, which mistakes healthy skin cells for foreign bodies and begins attacking them. This results in redness, unbearable itching, and raised, scaly patches over the affected areas of the skin.
Psoriasis typically appears on the outer side of the elbows, the knees, the neck or scalp, although its appearance cannot be excluded in any other locations either. Psoriasis can be very unpleasant to live with, since alongside the itching, it can also cause persistent sensations of burning and stinging.
While there is no cure for psoriasis yet, there are many habits, substances, and remedies that can be employed to alleviate it. Flaxseed oil is definitely one of those substances, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties. According to scientists, people who experience psoriasis have a significantly greater number of inflammatory compounds in their bodies and skin. Additionally, the appearance of psoriasis has been connected to a deficiency in several substances that maintain our skin’s health, such as a lack of Omega-3, and a deficiency in other EFAs (essential fatty acids).
Hence, applying flaxseed oil directly over the skin, especially in people with psoriasis, can offer the skin the essential fatty acids it may lack. Additionally, these substances, along with the Omega-3, can act as inhibitors to the inflammatory processes on the skin, which may reduce the severity of psoriasis and the frequency of its symptoms.
That is, however, hardly all when it comes to flaxseed oil. If you happen to be dealing with dandruff, or simply an itchy scalp, flaxseed oil can be of assistance. As with the applications we mentioned previously, applying flaxseed oil on the scalp is very simple.
Just pour some flaxseed oil in your hands, rub them together, and massage your scalp. This will help the flaxseed oil come into contact with the skin under your hair, and penetrate the skin on your scalp. If it can relieve itching and flakiness from eczema, psoriasis, and other types of dermatitis, trust us - it can remove itching from dandruff too.
An additional benefit here is, of course, the lustrous shine your hair will receive! By helping your scalp regain its moisture, flaxseed oil can also help you grow healthy, strong, and hydrated hair. Your hair follicles will love this oil and its high content of Omega-3 essential fatty acids.
Finally, we mentioned that flaxseed oil is often used in oil paint, where it helps keep the pigment together. Well, guess what? Flaxseed oil can do the same with your hair. Upon applying some over your hair, flaxseed oil will make it shinier, but it will also hold it together. So in case you decide to skip commercial hair styling gels, you can give flaxseed oil a shot. It provides both nutrition and style at the same time!
Surely, an ingredient this beneficial for the face and common skin disorders will have some benefits for the body as well, right? Yep, you guessed right.
No need to limit flaxseed oil only for sorting out wrinkles, or alleviating symptoms such as itching and excessive skin dryness. Those same benefits of flaxseed oil can be readily harnessed if you started using it as a body wash and so on. Some people even use flaxseed oil as a sort of natural, DIY sunscreen. Be aware however, that flaxseed oil will only offer light protection against the sun’s harmful UVA and UVB radiation. If you truly want to protect your skin from the sun, your best option is going for a broad-spectrum, quality sunscreen with a high SPF.
For the most part, flaxseed oil is very safe. Barring a small portion of the population who might have allergies to linen, flaxseed, or its oil, this skincare ingredient should be not just harmless, but beneficial. Flaxseed oil can be used as a naturally based flax body lotion, because it will make your skin hydrated, elastic, and silky smooth.
Another use of flaxseed oil for the body that we can recommend is the flaxseed oil DIY hydrating body scrub. It’s super easy to prepare this scrub. You just need to take a handful of flax seeds, grind them up (but not too much, since this is a scrub, you see) and then add oil to the mixture. You can combine these ground up flax seeds with flaxseed oil, coconut oil, olive oil, argan oil, and so on. The choice is yours.
Then, of course, mix it well. When it’s ready, you can proceed and give this DIY flaxseed scrub a try!
You can experiment with different applications of flaxseed oil, and find your own custom tailored method for using it that best fits your needs.
As always, you will need to make sure that your skin tolerates flaxseed oil. It’s important to keep in mind that just because something is natural, it doesn’t mean that it’s also harmless. A common example to illustrate this is fresh lemon juice. While it’s safe to drink and has many benefits for combatting acne, freshly squeezed lemon juice can sometimes burn your skin. Undoubtedly, a very small percentage of the population is allergic to flax, its seeds, linen, or flaxseed oil, but the problem is that sometimes you can’t know before you try.
For this purpose, it is always better to perform a patch test first. Patch tests are very simple to do, all you need to do is just take a small amount of the ingredient you want to test, and apply it over a small “patch” of skin. (Hence the name.)
Then, it all depends on how your skin will react. Some people may experience itching, redness, sensations of burning or other unpleasant side effects within minutes (called type 1 allergy). But in others, the skin will take hours until it manifests its allergic or irritated reaction to the ingredient you are testing. Because of this fluidity of reaction time, most dermatologists and skincare experts recommend that you should wait for at least 24, to a maximum of 48 hours after applying the ingredient on your skin. The so called type 4 allergic reactions may take 2 to sometimes even 5 days to appear.
After that time passes, the patch test is complete. If you experienced no negative reactions overall, you can continue using the ingredient in question.
However, if your skin reacts very negatively to the substance, ingredient, or product you are testing, you should interrupt the test immediately and wash off the affected area of the skin. Of course, you should not use that ingredient or product, because it will cause you pain and damage your skin. Needless to say, this applies to flaxseed oil too. If your skin doesn’t like it, that’s the end of it. And when it comes to all matters skincare - your skin is king.
Finally, let us also mention the other, general health benefits of flaxseed oil. Perhaps they are more commonly known, but there is no harm in reminding ourselves why we need to include this ingredient in our diets and lifestyle.
As you know, skincare is not exclusively external - meaning that what we let inside our bodies carries a great significance for the condition of our skin too.
Consuming some ingredients will make our skin better and more resilient. One notable example of this are antioxidants - they are a class of powerful substances that protect our body from free radicals, and keep our bodies healthy, and our skin clear and young looking.
Furthermore, the reverse is also true. Subsisting on unhealthy diets can wreak havoc on your skin, even though you kept it clean and moisturized. If you wish to keep your skin healthy and clear, you should avoid certain acne-causing foods, and perhaps experiment with a dairy-free diet. Additionally, you might want to replace smoking cigarettes with vaping, and become more mindful about your daily intake of coffee.
Finally, getting enough sleep and being in a good place, mentally speaking, is also very important for achieving good looking skin. Stress can often cause acne, and sometimes, we can mitigate it by sleeping better, changing certain lifestyle habits, exercising, or experimenting with meditation, yoga, and other psychological tools to reduce stress.
All of the above are factors that can worsen your health, which in turn disrupts your skin’s maintenance cycles, and can contribute to the appearance of acne. And here is where flaxseed oil enters the picture. Its high concentrations of Omega-3 make it excellent for our skin, reducing inflammation, as well as for harmonizing our digestion. But that’s just a part of it. Here are some of the most important flaxseed oil benefits for our health, and in turn, for our skin.
One tablespoon of flaxseed oil (15 ml) is thought to contain 7,196 mg of Omega-3, which is very impressive compared to most other sources. Flaxseed oil specifically contains Alpha-linolenic Acid (ALA), which is the only form of “useful” Omega-3 fatty acid. Our bodies have a much easier time converting Alpha-linolenic Acid into the biologically active forms of Omega-3, like Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). This makes flaxseed oil one of the best sources of Omega-3 in existence. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for human health, and have been linked to reduced inflammation, keeping our brain young, and improving our heart’s health.
Flaxseed oil is showing promising results in treating cancer as well. Although the current research is still limited to animal studies and test-tube experiments, several studies show evidence that flaxseed oil may slow the proliferation of cancer cells.
For example, in a study where mice were given 0.3 ml of flaxseed oil for 40 days, it was discovered that it prevented the growth of lung cancer and associated tumors. Another animal study seems to confirm these findings, finding that administering flaxseed oil seemingly blocked the appearance of colon cancer in rats. Test-tube studies have produced similar discoveries, with some studies showing that a steady intake of flaxseed oil reduced the growth of breast cancer cells. More research remains to be done, but these early indications are very promising.
Several studies have discovered that flaxseed oil could be good for our hearts. Results show that taking small amounts of flaxseed oil can lower blood pressure, and other studies show that flaxseed oil improves the elasticity of our blood vessels. So far, scientists believe that this is directly connected to the high amount of biologically active Omega-3 in flaxseed oil. Additionally, research has indicated that Omega-3 can improve the heart’s health in other ways too, such as reducing inflammation and balancing blood pressure.
Rest assured, this is just a small, but important selection of the health benefits of flaxseed oil. Many other health boons are not represented in this article - which is just further recommendation to give this ingredient a try. Flaxseed oil is not only good for your health, but it is excellent for your skin as well.
This information is meant to supplement, not replace advice from your doctor or healthcare provider and is not meant to cover all possible uses, precautions, interactions or adverse effects. This information may not fit your specific health circumstances, and its goal is to offer a general view of the subject. In case you are suffering from a severe case of acne, you should consult with a dermatologist or a certified medical professional.