1. Hydrate Dry Patches With Omega-3s
Is this your new after-shower oil? “Omega-3 fatty acids are extremely hydrating. They can improve skin barrier function to prevent water loss,” explains Debra Jaliman, MD, board certified dermatologist in New York City and author of Skin Rules. “If you are using fish oil topically, it’s best to use it in dry areas,” she says. Dab near the eyes or around the edges of the face onto small rough patches, Dr. Jaliman advises. Or try the really dry places elsewhere on your body, such as elbows and knees.
One warning (an anti-hack, if you will): If you are acne prone, when applied topically fish oil can cause breakouts, so you’re best off avoiding it, Jaliman says. For that same reason, skip using it in your T-zone completely.
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2. Soothe Red or Sunburned Skin With a Small Amount
Fish oil’s anti-inflammatory properties may also help quell redness in inflammatory skin problems including eczema, sunburn, or sensitive skin in general, says Purvisha Patel, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Visha Skincare in Germantown, Tennessee. “The oils help repair the epidermal cell barrier, and helps increase skin strength and decrease DNA damage in the skin,” she says. To calm angry skin, she recommends applying a small amount to damp skin. (Do not apply oil and then go out into the sun.) But using a skin product that contains omega-3s as an ingredient may be a better option, says Dr. Patel, as it will be specifically formulated to absorb well into skin, contains supporting ingredients to enhance effectiveness, and smell more pleasant.
3. Fish Oil May Help Speed Skin Healing
Consider dotting a bit of fish oil on a small cut or scrape — there’s some limited evidence that a topical application of omega-3s and omega-3 supplements encourage wound healing, says Jaliman. Indeed, a small, previous randomized controlled trial suggested that fish oil offers promise for this purpose.
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4. Use Fish Oil for an Extra Boost of UV Protection
EPA in fish oil in particular may bolster your body’s internal defenses of UV rays — similar to sunscreen from within, in part because of its anti-inflammatory properties, past research has suggested. Still, it’s not a replacement for applying a good SPF 30 to exposed skin in the morning — but that a diet containing fish oil may add another layer of protection.