Dry Skin Derm Tips: Essential Fatty Acids and Skin Health

Your body needs fat. The walls of your cells are made of it, and if they aren’t replenished with fatty acids (the kind that can’t be made by your body), then cell function is impaired. Your body can’t produce these critical building blocks by itself so you have to take them in via food – or through your skin.

Certain oils can quite literally nourish the structures of your skin. To do this, they need to contain suitable amounts of omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids.

It’s not just about moisturising, but actively supporting the integrity of cell walls and optimising the transfer of water and waste.

We use a unique product sourced from nature – the seeds of the Harakeke plant (also known as phormium tenax or New Zealand Flax). This plant has been used for centuries in Maori traditional medicine but science has confirmed that the seeds are rich in linoleic (i.e. omega 6) fatty acid. Harakeke seed oil quite literally feeds your skin.

It also has the benefit of being sustainably sourced. The Harakeke seed oil we use in Ao products comes from small plantations in New Zealand, the country where Harakeke originates. Instead of relying on essential fatty acids from chemical processes or animal products, we select our seed oil from sustainably harvested plants.

Harakeke is robust, fast-growing, wind-tolerant, flood-tolerant, drought-tolerant, light- tolerant, frost-tolerant... all the attributes required of plants to take a lead in establishing a new indigenous/exotic farming matrix in lowland New Zealand.


Fat has been demonized for 50 years. Generations have grown up believing that lipids are an enemy to be avoided at all costs. This kind of thinking is now outdated, and skincare professionals, along with other medical experts, see a place for lipids in a healthy skincare regime. 

For example, it is now well understood that dry skin isn’t simply caused by loss of water.

The critical factor is a loss of the natural oils your skin needs in order to retain water. Without sufficient oil in the skin, the water barrier starts to break down, leading to water loss and all the bad things that follow. 

If your skin tends towards dryness there are a number of measures you can take:

+ Do not spend too much time in dry or heated environments: Sitting in front of an open flame or other heat source can dry your skin.

+ Stay away from harsh soaps: Steer clear of deodorant soaps, perfumed soaps, and alcohol products, which can strip away natural oils. Use low-soap, hydrating skin cleansers instead, which are gentler on the skin barrier.

+ Do not over moisturize: Slathering on a moisturizer product every day gets the skin hooked on an external source, and it responds by giving up the ability to hydrate itself.

Scientists would say that an oversimplified skincare regime runs the risk of overstimulating certain metabolic pathways to which the body becomes tolerant. In other words, it gets addicted. 

Instead of a daily moisturizing ritual, use a treatment that promotes your skin’s wellbeing from within. With ingredients that switch on the skin’s natural metabolic pathways, you can enjoy the benefits of self-moisturizing as well as boosting defence against oxidative stress, toxins, ultraviolet radiation and age-related degenerative changes.

Ao treatments are formulated with key ingredients, such as Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), that trigger these beneficial effects. There’s also evidence that topical Niacinamide can increase the production of ceramides (lipids that help maintain the skin’s protective barrier), which may contribute to its topical effects on wrinkles, fine lines, and the skin’s moisture barrier. 


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"Skincare science needs to be on the very edge of social change and evolution in order to succeed."

Dr. Mark Gray