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Blocks formation of leukotrienes, increases production of ceramide 1

Important Chemical Components:

γ-linolenic acid (GLA), which ranges from 20 to 27 percent in borage oil1

α-linolenic acid (10 percent)

Palmitic, stearic, oleic, linoleic, eicosenoic, and erucic acids

Origin Classification:

This ingredient is considered natural. Organic forms are available.

Personal Care Category:

Lipophilic, occlusive, emollient, anti-inflammatory, hydrating

Recommended for the following Baumann Skin Types:

All dry and sensitive types benefit from this ingredient. It is best for DSNT, DSPT, DSNW, and DSPW. This ingredient may feel too greasy to individuals with oily skin types.


Borage (Borago officinalis) is an annual herb native to Syria and grown now throughout the Mediterranean region, Middle East, North Africa, Europe, and South America (Figure 11-1). Derived from the seeds of the plant, borage seed oil is used in medical practice for its anti-inflammatory activity in the treatment of atopic dermatitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other conditions.


B. officinalis, a wildflower also known as “starflower” for its star-shaped bright blue flowers, is a tall (average of 1.5 feet) herb used for over 1,500 years.2 References to borage date back to the Roman historian Pliny the Elder and the Greek poet Homer, who cited the elixir “nepenthe,” which is now believed to have been derived from borage leaves steeped in wine.3 A medicinal tea made of borage leaves was frequently consumed in the Middle Ages.2


Although human skin cannot synthesize GLA, it is produced elsewhere in the body but only in the presence of the fatty acid linoleic acid (LA). This is one of the main reasons why LA is a desirable ingredient in skin care products as well as oral supplements. LA also helps the body produce ceramide 1 (see Chapter 7, Moisturizing Agents). Because LA is not synthesized by the body, it must be consumed through the diet or absorbed topically. It is abundant in a wide range of vegetables, nuts, and seed oils.

The enzyme δ-6 desaturase (D6D), which is found in many cell types including fibroblasts and sebocytes, plays the crucial role of converting LA into GLA. GLA is subsequently metabolized into prostaglandin E1 (PGE1), which exhibits anti-inflammatory activity and aids in regulating transepidermal water loss (TEWL) and protecting the skin.4 Borage seed oil has been shown to have two to three times more GLA than evening primrose oil, which itself is known to be a rich source of the essential acid.5,6


Borage seed oil has been used for years to treat inflammatory conditions and dry skin (Table 11-1). Twenty ...

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