Nutritionists have beaten us over the heads about the importance of incorporating omega-3 fatty acids in our diets.  We are all probably aware of at least some of the health benefits that accompany ingesting these virtuous fats.  Besides lowering triglycerides and increasing HDL cholesterol (the good kind), omega-3 fatty acids are believed to act as an anticoagulant in the blood, to lower high blood pressure, and to prevent the accumulation of a protein linked to Alzheimer's.  Now it has been shown to be beneficial to not only put omega-3 fats in our bodies but on them as well.

NARS, the maker of my favorite bronzer and eyeshadow, has branched into skincare with a revolutionary "Lipid Support Series."  The idea behind the new product line is that you can increase the health of your skin cells by replenishing them with naturally occurring lipids that have been lost over time.  NARSskin EFA night infusion ($105) is, like every woman, complex and mysterious.  Worn at night, the antioxidant-laden formula is meant to fortify and repair the epidermis while increasing its intake of hydration.

A study in contrasts, the EFA night infusion stands out by virtue of its paradoxical nature. Its bottle is starkly white and boxy, unlike the traditionally dark, curvy packaging of NARS makeup.  Somehow, this ergonomic design utilizes "airless" technology to dispense the serum in a pure, unadulterated dollop. The consistency is both greasy and light at the same time.  Because the emulsion doesn't fully sink into the skin no matter how much you massage it, the sensation is of a layer of oil coating your face.

This feeling sounds much more unpleasant than it actually is.  Though at first I fretted that my pores were being clogged and that my pillow was going to develop grease stains, the only evidence I had of applying the serum the night before was a radiant complexion.  Free of dyes and synthetic fragrances, the formula walks softly and carries a big stock of lipid-boosting active ingredients (over 95%!)

The base ingredient of EFA night infusion is, instead of the ubiquitous water, squalane, a silky oil that hydrates and nourishes the skin.  Whereas chemically identical squalene is derived from shark liver oil, rest assured that only olives were harmed in the process of obtaining squalane.  Another exceptional natural emollient, C10-30 cholesterol/lanosterol esters, otherwise known as "Super Sterol Liquid," is similar in structure to the lipids in the outermost layer of the skin.  Sodium hyaluronate is one of the skin's natural moisturizing factors (NMFs), which along with lipids, keep skin from losing water.  Beyond a vast inventory of botanical oils, which are always lovely to behold, there are a few causes for concern.

Isopropyl myristate, a penetrating oil that allows cosmetics to apply smoothly, is also the major ingredient in a can of rust remover, Liquid Wrench.  Proven to be an eye, skin, and respiratory irritant, isopropyl myristate is so aggressive that if left it in a container overnight, it will migrate to the top and spill over the sides.  Dermatologists have found that it tends to aggravate acne and will clog pores in concentrations over 5%.  Likewise, propylene glycol, which functions as a humectant, is known to irritate sensitive skin and may be linked to cancer.

Although the literature on EFA night infusion points out the inclusion of ceramides, I could not find any no matter how hard I strained my eyes at the microscopic ingredients list.  Unless they are disguised under different names, they must not have made the cut during ingredient tryouts, or perhaps they were artfully misappropriated by the marketing team for some hot buzz words.

After applying EFA night infusion, your face will be glistening and slippery to the touch (bedmates beware).  Although the instructions indicate that it is for all skin types, I would recommend it only for normal to dry complexions.  I am looking forward to coating it on during the colder months when my skin needs all the hydrating essential fatty acids it can imbibe.

Ingredients:

Squalane, C13-15 Alkane, C10-30 Cholesterol/Lanosterol Esters, Silica Dimethyl Silylate, Oryza Sativa [Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil], Sodium Hyaluronate, Linseed Oil/Palm Oil Aminopropanediol Esters, Euterpe Oleracea (Euterpe Oleracea Fruit Oil), Plukenetia Volubilis (Plukenetia Volubilis Seed Oil), Pytosteryl/Octyldodecyl Lauroyl Glutamate, Bisabolol, Rosa Canina (Rosa Canina Fruit Oil), Orbignya Oleifera (Orbignya Oleifera Seed Oil), Calendula Officinalis (Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract), Rosmarinus Officinalis [Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Flower Extract], Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract), Ribes Nigrum [Ribes Nigrum (Black Currant) Seed Oil], Rubus Idaeus [Rubus Idaeus (Rasberry) Seed Oil], Rubus Chamaemorus (Rubus Chamaemorus Seed Oil), Citrus Aurantium Amara [Citrus Aurantium Amara (Bitter Orange) Peel Oil], Plumeria Alba (Plumeria Alba Flower Extract), Coriandrum Sativum [Coriandrum Sativum (Coriander) Fruit Oil], Citrus Aurantium Bergamia [Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil], Aniba Rosaeodora [Aniba Rosaeodora (Rosewood) Wood Oil], Citrus Nobilis [Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Citrus Sinensis [Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil], Anthemis Nobilis (Anthemis Nobilis Flower Oil), Citrus Reticulata [Citrus Reticulata (Tangerine) Leaf Oil], Glycine Soja [Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil], Tocopherol, Sodium Magnesium Silicate, Glycerin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Propylene Glycol, Lecithin, Acetylated Hydrogenated Vegetable Glyceride, Isopropyl Myristate, Limonene, Linalool