This Beauty Q&A was picked up from a WINK review on Instagram. The poster asks,
“According to [the Amalie] website, WINK provides EFAs, which theoretically will increase brow/lash growth…Are most of us deficient? ..EFAs are found in many cooking oils like olive oil, sunflower oil, nuts, etc so.. probably not?”
You’re right! All of those items do contain EFAs–they’re actually all pretty high in Omega 6s–but there’s more than one type of EFA and each type comes from a different source and has a different function. So let me set someting straight first: You are probably deficient in Omega-3s, and that is bad news for your lashes.
Before I dive into why you’re probably deficient in Omega-3s and why Omega-3 deficiency is bad news for your eyelashes, first I want to brush you up on a few terms:
What’s an EFA?
EFAs are essential fatty acids. All EFAs are polyunsaturated fats – what you’ve probably heard called “the good kind of fat” your whole life – that the body cannot produce by itself (except that it can produce some forms of Omega-9), and are therefore essential for healthy functioning. You’ve probably heard EFAs referred to as “Omegas”: Omega-3, 6, 9 even 5 & 7.
You’ve probably heard EFAs referred to as “Omegas”: Omega-3, 6, 9 even 5 and 7.
EFAs can be found in nuts, seeds, and meat, though the composition varies. Typically each source has more than one kind of EFA. Raspberry seed oil, for example (found in WINK), contains about 18% Oleic acid (Omega 9), about 55% Linoleic acid (Omega 6) and about 33% Alpha-linolenic acid (Omega 3). We’re aiming for a 4:1 ratio or less of Omega-6 : Omgea-3, so the 1.67:1 ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 fatty acids makes it a great candidate for an eyelash enhancer, because it’s job is to supply an abundance of Omega-3s directly to the skin of someone who is most likely deficient in Omega-3s. That’s why Raspberry seed oil is one of the main ingredients of WINK! Read here for more helpful resources on Omega-3s.
What’s the difference between Omega-3, Omega-6 and Omega-9?!
The 3, 6 and 9 refer to the “n” – the chemical notation for the number/position (“n”), counting from the methyl-end of the fatty acid, where the carbon-carbon double bond occurs on the fatty acid chain. There are different types of each, because different lengths of carbon chains (C20, C20, C18, for example) can still have the same position of double bond (n) on the chain. Here’s a full list for those interested.
There’s also Omega-5s (punicic acid – found in pomegranate oil) and Omega-7s (like Palmitoleic acid, found in Emu oil and Baobab), as well as Omega-4s and Omega-11s (who knew!).
Now we’re getting a little nuanced. I’d say the important thing is knowing the difference between foods. For example, most cooking oils are high in Omega-6. Walnuts and seafood are high in Omega-3. Some seed and nut oils (Baobab, Castor, Tamanu, Argan) are high in Omega-9.
What do you mean by probably deficient in Omega 3?
By probably, I mean: most Americans have a 16:1 or 18:1 ratio of Omega 6 to Omega 3 fatty acids – much different than a 4:1 ratio in Mediterranean diets or the 1:1 ratio our ancestors were thought to have. To show you just how bad it is: 96,000 Americans die every year from Omega-3 deficiency, making it the #6 killer of Americans (that’s more than Breast Cancer!)
Why is Omega-3 deficiency bad for my lashes?
Like your body needs calories to function, eyelashes need EFAs to grow – especially Omega 3s. If your diet is high in Omega-6s but low in Omega-3s, that’s not going to work; the fatty acids aren’t interchangeable. In fact, Omega-6 cannot be processed without Omega-3 and will become inflammatory to the body and immune system–hence why Americans have so many problems with the imbalance in their diets. Yes, even the “good fats” cause problems when you get too much of them.
In general, having too much Omega-6 and not enough Omega-3 is really bad for your body, because it prevents the two from working together to carry out their anti-inflammatory properties. Omega-6 by itself, without the presernce of enough Omega 3, is inflammatory to the body – hence why we have so many inflammatory diseases today that our ancestors didn’t have (source/intersting article).
It’s really hard to pin down what happens when we’re deficient, but at least one study has shown that EFA deprivation causes hair loss (read: lash loss), follicle structural abnormalities and pigmentation changes (source).
How can I get more Omega-3s in my diet?
As much as I would like to list all vegan sources of Omega-3s, the truth is that the human body cannot covert Omega-3s from vegetables (ALAs) from their fatty acid chains to cell-absorbable EPA (3 chemical reaction step reactions later) or DHA (4 chemical reaction steps later) with any type of efficiency. Meanwhile, fish offers DHA and EPA as is – no additional chemical reactions required.
In other words: you’re doing your body a favor by simply supplying it with the usable forms of Omega-3s to start with, which are only found in other animals.
That being said, Omega-3s are found in: walnuts, flaxseed, chia seeds, fatty fish, fish roe, spinch and soybeans (source).
Why should I apply Omega-3s to my lashes?
Once in China, I was talking to a quirky British colleague who was making a 3D bio-printer, and we got to talking about how to best use it for beauty. She said that plastic surgeons were begging her to use the printer to make custom-fitted implants. She said while that would be a great money-maker, it’s not where her heart was at. She wanted to someday print medicines–which could extend to cosmetic beauty treatments.
“That’s cool!” I said, “Print and apply your custom beauty regimen.”
“But it’s still not the best way,” she said. “If you want to do something right, you inject it. Then your next best course of action is to apply it directly to the area. Otherwise, just eat it.”
If you want your lashes to grow, the quickest way is to apply the EFAs (or in most of our cases, Omega 3s) directly to the lash line.
That stuck with me. It’s really true. I’m not condoning that you inject essential fatty acids directly to your lash line, but the next best course of action is to apply it directly to the area where you want to see change. If you want your lashes to grow, the quickest way is to apply the EFAs (or in most of our cases, Omega 3s) directly to the lash line.
A slower way to build up your body’s natural Omega-3s and balance it all out is by eating more Omega-3s in your diet, or taking a supplement – which, funny enough, was done in a blepharitis study with good results (source), so it does work.
Do my lashes need other fats, besides EFAs?
Yes, actually. They also need some saturated fatty acids, which are full carbon chains without any hydrogens. Saturated fatty acids like Lauric Acid (C12:0) – found in coconut oil and kukui nut oil, a WINK ingredient – has an affinity for protein, and can easily penetrate the hair shaft, giving it the ability to strengthen hair, whereas Omega-6 for example experiences stearic hindrance; it’s too bulky to penetrate the hair shaft (source). So if you want stronger lashes, you need to diversify the fats you’re putting on them.
What’s the best way to get Omega-3s and other necessary fats to my lashes?
Again, the best way is to apply it directly to the area. I will of course recommend WINK.
I’ve spent the last 4 years researching eyelashes and what makes them grow, as well as reading between the lines of everything that studies can cover (because the research is not complete yet). I’ve tested on myself and others, and I’ve spent a hell of a lot of time perfecting the formula. I work to maintain the integrity of the original formula, while making small improvements to each batch. WINK is literally my life’s work (to date!).
If WINK is too expensive for your taste or you think you can do it better, feel free to peruse through everything I’ve written and all the research online and concoct your own formulation! All I’m rooting for is an educated consumer. So godspeed, let the lash force be with you!