Synopsis This report utilizes a new procedure based on epidermal stripping to analyse unlabelled skin fatty acids. This technique was applied to the study of human dry skin treated with blackcurrant seed oil, an essential fatty acid rich lipid also containing gamma linolenic acid. In human dry skin the usual fatty acids were found in the stratum corneum as in normal skin outer layers. Among the saturated series no significant difference was observed in the C16 chain but a smaller quantity of C18:0 was detected. In the unsaturated series a marked fall of linoleic acid as well as a higher level of C16:1 in the stratum corneum appeared as the major significant events that could characterize dry skin. gamma linolenic acid was detectable neither in normal nor in dry skin. alpha linolenic acid was found but not consistently. After multiple applications of blackcurrant seed oil in an emulsion preparation, impregnation of the stratum corneum was complete, and essential or other fatty acids contained in the oil (particularly linoleic and linolenic acids) were found in combination with endogenous lipids. Possibly they contribute to enhance the protective effect of the stratum corneum.