Evening primrose oil and skin health

Evening primrose oil has long been used for medicinal, culinary and cosmetic purposes, and is widely sought after as it provides a rich source of the omega-6 fatty acid (FA) known as gamma-linolenic acid or GLA.

Evening primrose – the plant
Evening primrose (Oenothera biennis) originates from North America and gets its name from the large, yellow, tubular flowers that only open in the evening. Evening primrose produces an abundance of tiny seeds, up to 150,000 seeds per plant, and this is the source of Evening primrose oil. The seed contains 25% oil, around 8-14% of this is GLA, while the rest is the essential fatty acid (EFA) linolenic acid (LA). A good quality Evening primrose oil will be free of genetically modified organisms (non-GMO) and be cold-pressed to avoid damaging the delicate oil with heat. 

Skin benefits of Evening primrose oil
GLA is the main active compound found in Evening primrose oil and is an important precursor for anti-inflammatory chemical mediators known as prostaglandins, particularly PGE1, and leukotrienes. This anti-inflammatory activity is unique to Evening primrose oil and clearly distinguishes it from other non-GLA omega-6 oils. Evening primrose oil:

  • Supports skin health 
  • Relieves skin dryness 
  • Supports skin hydration See more here

Even though our western diet contains high levels of omega-6 FAs compared to omega-3 FAs, dietary and lifestyle factors including ageing, chronic health conditions, digestive disturbances, stress and a diet high in saturated and trans-fatty acids can inhibit the activity of LA, leading to low GLA.

Omega-6 fatty acids, including LA and GLA are involved in maintaining the barrier function of the skin.


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