Linoleic Acid vs Linolenic Acid: What's the Difference?

Linoleic acid (LA) is an omega-6 fatty acid, while α-linolenic acid (ALA) is an omega-3 fatty acid. Both are the two essential fatty acids required in the diet. They help to support healthy metabolism, good cognitive function, and healthy skin and hair growth. This multipurpose compound is essential for healthy tissue and cell growth.

What is Linoleic Acid?

Linoleic acid, whose name is derived from the Greek words "linon," which means "flax," and "oleic," which means "produced from oil," is an unsaturated fat. Unsaturated fats are essential for encouraging cell regeneration and keeping skin smooth, elastic, and young-looking.

Linoleic acid can be used on all skin types, but those with dry or acne-prone skin may find it most beneficial. Acne patients have been demonstrated to have reduced linoleic acid levels in their skin surface lipids.

Is Gamma Linolenic Acid the Same as Linoleic Acid?
Gamma linolenic acid, is produced in the body from linoleic acid, an essential fatty acid of omega-6 series by the enzyme delta-6-desaturase. (Source

What is Alpha Linolenic Acid?

Alpha linolenic acid is highly concentrated in certain plant oils and has been reported for its anti-inflammatory properties. Linolenic acid is used in cosmetics as a skin-conditioning and skin-restorative component.

Linoleic Acid vs Linolenic Acid 

Linoleic acid is an essential fatty acid having the chemical formula C18H32O2 while linoleic acid an essential fatty acid having the chemical formula C18H30O2. However, the key difference between linoleic acid and linolenic acid is that linoleic acid contains two double bonds with cis configuration while linolenic acid contains three double bonds with cis configuration.

According to the configurations in these compounds, we can denote linoleic acid as 18:2 cis-9,12 and linolenic acid as 18:3 cis-9,12,15. 

Linoleic and Linolenic Acid Food Sources

Dietary sources of linoleic acid: vegetable oils such as sunflower, safflower, soybean, corn, and canola oils as well as nuts and seeds.

Dietary sources of gamma linolenic acid: Various plant seed oils such as borage oil and evening primrose oil.

Dietary sources of alpha linolenic acid: flaxseed oil, chia seeds, hemp seeds, canola oil, soybean oil.

Best Oils High in Linoleic Acid

1. Mayan's Secret USDA Certified Organic Safflower Seed Oil for Anti-aging Skin

- Guaranteed Highest Quality, USDA Certified Organic Safflower Seed Oil
Unparalleled purity and concentration. Natural, with no adulterants or dilution, with Mayan’s Secret oils you get the maximum benefit possible and are uncompromising. Mayan’s Secret is a trusted certified organic facility where we adhere to strict regulations therefore you can trust that our oils are top quality truly genuine never diluted or compromised in any way. Certified by QAI to ensure the absence of harmful products as well as the proper handling of the oil in all stages of production.

- High in Linoeic Acid
Thanks to its high level of linoleic acid, it's excellent for helping to balance the sebum levels in the skin. And with its light, non-greasy consistency, Mayan’s Secret organic safflower oil is absorbed quickly into the skin, making it an excellent moisturizing facial oil suitable for all skin types.

- Other Uses
Hair conditioner and moisturizer adds shine to hair while moisturizing the scalp to prevent dryness. Promotes Skin Elasticity for supple skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles for an anti aging toner. Use it as a base oil for your own DIY soap making. The oil is capable of softening up dry areas smooth rough patches and even improve both the texture and tone of your skin when used as a daily anti-aging facial moisturizer.

- Nothing Added or Taken Away 
Large 4oz Dark amber Glass bottle with glass dropper extends shelf life as oils are light sensitive & must be stored in dark amber bottles to protect from oxidation. Unlike plastic containers, glass will not leach chemicals into the oil. Please keep bottle in a dark cabinet. Refrigeration can help to extend the normal shelf life of two years.

2. Safflower Seed Oil Face Moisturizer 

- Nutrient Rich
Has one of the highest levels of Linoleic Acid of any carrier oils. Consists of 72.31 Linoleic Acid and 16 Oleic Acid. High in vitamin E for healthy skin.

- Non Comedogenic
Although noncomedogenic safflower oil can be used for different skin types it works especially well for those with oily acne prone skin. It has a comedogenic rating of zero to help prevent break outs from clogged pores. With a high Linoleic acid content it helps to keep the sebum, the skin's natural oil, levels balanced. Safflower oil act as a lubricant that prevents water from leaving the skin, thereby locking in the moisture for healthy, glowing skin.

- Other Uses
Hair conditioner and moisturizer adds shine to hair while moisturizing the scalp to prevent dryness. Promotes Skin Elasticity for supple skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles for an anti aging toner. Use it as a base oil for your own DIY soap making. The oil is capable of softening up dry areas smooth rough patches and even improve both the texture and tone of your skin when used as a daily anti-aging facial moisturizer.

- Packaging
Packaged in Dark Amber Glass Bottle for longevity. Protects light sensitive oils from oxidation.

I don’t write reviews, but I’m so impressed with this that I had to. I have super sensitive combination skin. Every moisturizer I tried before this broke me out (I tried CeraVe, Aveeno, Kiehl’s, Vanicream, Clinique, etc). I had given up, but my skin was so dry. I took a chance with this. One week in, and I’m not having any of the problems I had before. It’s a miracle. My skin is well moisturized. No scent for me. I would strongly recommend giving this a try.

3. Safflower Oil 16 oz Cold Pressed 100% Pure Natural Carrier

Safflower Oil 16 oz Cold Pressed 100% Pure Natural Carrier

Safflower Oil is obtained from ripe seeds taken from the Carthamus tinctorius. Safflower is a highly moisturizing oil that is deeply soothing and one of the first choices among manufacturers for cosmetics requiring a moisturizing oil. It is also very popular in massage blends as it is easily absorbed, and can be washed from sheets without heavy staining. 

- highly moisturizing oil 
- often used in cosmetics 
- popular in massage blends

This is the second bottle I bought. First one last me more than a year. I like to use safflower oil to remove my makeup. It’s non comedogenic, not clogging your pores. Also use as body oil and apply on cuticles. Works great.

Best Oils High in Gamma Linolenic Acid

1. US Organic Borage seed Oil (18% GLA)

US Organic Borage seed Oil (18% GLA), USDA Certified Organic, 100% Pure & Natural, Cold Pressed, aka Starflower oil, in Amber Glass Bottle w/Glass Eye dropper for Easy Application (2 oz (56 ml))

Borage Oil with an 18% GLA content (gamma-linolenic acid) referred by botanical name Borago officinalis. It is also called as starflower oil. Borage oil is naturally rich in the Omega-6 essential fatty acid GLA (gamma-linolenic acid C18:3n-6) making it used in cosmetic products such as topical creams, balms, ointments, and body butters formulated to benefit the skin.

It is fully filtered, resulting in a neutral oil with a bland aroma and a clear golden-honey color. Manufactured in US Organic’s own clean, GMP-certified and USDA certified facility where meets or exceed all municipal and government standards.

4.6 out of 5 - more than 11,200 global ratings

This product is a great moisturizer for dry sensitive skin. It doesn't have any odor, and it really moisturizes my extremely dry sensitive skin.

2. Bella Terra Oils Borage Seed Oil 2oz

Our organic Borage Seed Oil, derived from the vibrant blue starflower, will soon be the star of your beauty regimen. Borage Seed Oil is a rich source of gamma-linolenic acid, an omega-6 fatty acid that gives skin a healthy glow. It also contains doses of antioxidants and Vitamin E. It`s a versatile oil that moisturizes and nourishes your skin, hair and nails. Borage seed oil`s easy-to-absorb formula also makes it a great massage oil.

How to get the most benefits of your Borage Seed Oil:
For your face: Massage a few drops into your face and neck after cleansing.
For your body: Massage anywhere you need some extra moisturizing love, including your hands, feet, body and cuticles.
For your hair: Massage onto scalp and dry hair. Wrap your hair with a warm towel and let the oil soak in for 20 minutes. Wash and style as usual.

I have been struggling with eczema on my hands for several years, and have tried many different products. Lately, I did my own search [People's Pharmacy, etc.] and discovered this oil which helps support and strengthen my skin. As one ages, the skin's ability to adjust and strengthen can diminish, especially with a problem like eczema. The oil replaces what is lost in skin, and has drastically reduced the recurring dry symptoms. I've been using it for about 3-days, and so far am very happy with the results. I am looking for similar products that can also enhance my daily topical medications as well. Very happy so far!

3. Naissance Virgin Borage (Starflower) Oil 8 fl oz 

100% pure unrefined, cold pressed, Borage Seed, Virgin Oil.  This oil contains up to 25% Gamma Linolenic Acid (GLA) which is an essential Omega 6 fatty acid. Cloudy in appearance as minute particles of the seed are present in the oil. The oil is extracted through the process of cold pressing the seeds. It is also known as starflower oil due to the plant’s flowers being star shaped.

- balancing moisturisation ideal for mature skin.
- rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.

I actually don’t use this as a carrier oil. I use it on my body. I love the way it makes my skin feel afterwards. Very moisturized. It has minimal fragrance to it. I really can’t smell it. It fulfills all of my criteria. GLA is essential fatty acid. I’m hoping I’m getting some skin absorption. It is not tested on animals. Whatever is left on my hands afterwards I placed on my face. I have not tried the styling formula, but hope to do so soon. I contacted the company about toxins. They checked with their distributor. There are no “PAs “, Or at least none that are detectable. One of my medications requires LFTs fairly often. I will follow and do an addendum report. Great product. Great company. 

Best Oils High in Alpha Linolenic Acid

1. Velona USDA Certified Organic Flaxseed Oil

Velona USDA Certified Organic Flaxseed Oil


- Velona USDA Certified Organic Flaxseed Oil
100% Pure and Natural Carrier Oil. Unrefined. Cold Pressed. Not Diluted, Non-GMO, No Additives, No Fragrance, Chemical Free, Alcohol Free. All our products are bottled in the USA.

- Hydrate and Smooth The Skin
Flaxseed oil acts as a protective barrier, keeping irritants from entering the pores. It helps lock water into the skin, block water loss through the skin, which can help minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

- Moisturize Hair and Scalp
Flaxseed oil helps condition the hair, making it smooth and manageable. It helps bind moisture to the hair shaft, controlling issues like breakage, split ends, dryness, hair loss and dandruff.

- How To Use
Add a few drops of essential oil to the flaxseed carrier oil, and gently massage from the scalp down. Wrap your hair in a towel and let sit for 15-20 minutes. Rinse out the oil with a gentle shampoo.


4.7 out of 5 - more than 1,700 global ratings

Velona USDA Certified Organic Flaxseed Oil Reviews
I found that I itch terribly after using coconut or argan oil for winter dry skin on my torso and discovered them to be considered tree nuts, which may be causing this. The jojoba is technically from a tree nut but for some reason not considered a tree nut oil! It is working perfectly! Highly recommend!

2. Plant Guru Flaxseed Oil 16 oz Virgin

Plant Guru Flaxseed Oil 16 oz Virgin


100% Pure Flaxseed Oil - Our flaxseed oil is cold pressed, undiluted with no added ingredients. Tested for purity with every batch and safe for all skin types.
- great emollient for skin 
- vitamins E & B 
- essential fatty acids 
- helps with multiple skin conditions


a. Why Linoleic Acid and Linolenic Acid Are Essential Fatty Acids?

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