This ‘Jack of All Trades’ Hydrating Facial Oil Calmed My Angry, Irritated Acne—And It’s Derm-Approved

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I recently got a little overenthusiastic with actives while treating my hormonal breakouts. As fate would have it, even the gentlest retinol and retinaldehyde can start to sensitize your skin when you’re layering them on top of each other with reckless abandon—a lesson I learned the hard way.

Fortunately, I had been researching superstar skin-care ingredient linoleic acid and discovered Dr. Loretta's Intense Replenishing Serum. A couple of drops on my complexion felt like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day—an unfurling of tension that made my angry, sensitive skin immediately more relaxed. The rich, fatty formula feels like a cross between a hydrating serum and a facial oil, and its star ingredient is vitamin F, otherwise known as ‘vitamin fat’ or linoleic acid.

According to Hadley King, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City, vitamin F comprises two fats: alpha-linolenic acid (a member of the omega-3 fat family) and linoleic acid (which is part of the omega-6 family). “They are classified as essential fatty acids, meaning that they are necessary for health and the body is unable to make them, so they must be consumed in the diet,” she says.

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So what do they do for your skin? “Alpha-linoleic acid and linoleic acid help regulate and promote healthy functioning of our body, including playing an important role in the health of our skin,” says Dr. King. “They hydrate, replenish and restore the skin barrier, they're high in antioxidants, and they're anti-inflammatory.” So, as it turns out, I wasn’t imagining that quenching, soothing relief and redness reduction—it was the real deal.

Dr. King adds that vitamin F also acts as a ceramide, strengthening the skin barrier to help it retain moisture. Plus, “because of its anti-inflammatory properties, vitamin F can also be beneficial for those with inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea and eczema,” she says.

Before testing the serum, one of my main concerns was that it would make my acne worse instead of better. Because, in theory, shouldn’t a fatty, oily formula cause more breakouts? Apparently, no. “Studies have shown that topical linoleic acid can help control acne,” says Dr. King. What’s more, she says, is that “The antioxidant properties may help protect the skin from damage from free radicals from UV light.” Those free radicals and UV damage can also cause acne, making this ingredient even more critical to the anti-acne cause.

The formula also includes vitamin E and Lipochrmona, which have “antioxidant properties that can help protect the skin from damage and free radicals,” says Dr. King.

At the risk of sounding too generic and saying ‘that this stuff works for everyone,’ it seems that this Intense Replenishing Serum can be of service to all skin types. Obviously, everyone’s face (and epidermis) is different, but with the ability to hydrate dry skin and combat acne, it’s a true jack of all trades.

With that in mind, Dr. King says that this product “may be particularly helpful for those with skin conditions characterized by an impaired skin barrier function, such as rosacea and eczema,” because “it supports the skin barrier, hydrates and retains moisture and decreases inflammation.” So while it works broadly on many a dehydrated face, it’s especially powerful if you’re in one of these sensitized categories with a compromised skin barrier. Considering I was dealing with pretty much all of these issues before I met this serum, my calmed complexion and I can confirm that it's well worth the investment.

If you, like me, are dealing with adult acne, check out the video below for a derm's tips on how to manage it.

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Our editors independently select these products. Making a purchase through our links may earn Well+Good a commission.

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