By now, many of us have sprinkled chia seeds over our cereal, sipped it in our Kombucha, or blended some into a smoothie. But these healthful morsels are not just beneficial as food—chia has become a hot new beauty ingredient that boasts pretty amazing results.
Chia oil, when extracted, contains essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6, as well as antioxidants called tocopherols, explains dermatologist Dr. Julie Russak. In fact, it has highest levels of antioxidants in the oil family—beating out other popular oils like flax. (Rad.)
But what does it do exactly? Here’s the scoop on how chia oil can boost your beauty routine and why it’s worth trying out.
It’s super hydrating.
In a study published by The Annals of Dermatology, chia oil was clinically proven to “significantly increase skin hydration, reduce trans-epidermal water loss and increase skin barrier function,” says Susanne Norwitz, founder of Maya Chia Beauty, which makes chia oil and other chia-infused products.
Adam Friedman, MD, Director of Dermatologic Research at Montefiore-Einstein College of Medicine, adds that chia oil is also high in fiber, which means it can, “pull water from deeper tissues or even the skin surface, creating a hydrating effect.”
It strengthens your skin.
As we age, Russak explains, the barrier of the skin’s outer layer (the epidermis) becomes compromised due to thinning, weakening cells, making it harder for skin to repair itself. Topical omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which chia oil has plenty of, actually help strengthen the epidermis. “The beauty of directly applying chia oil directly to the skin is you are delivering these potent, raw nutrients directly to the source of concern, enforcing the cell membrane and improving the texture and quality of the skin,” she says.
It may have anti-aging properties.
Not only can chia oil potentially help skin stay strong over the years, it may also have additional anti-aging benefits. Skincare expert Indie Lee, founder of Indie Lee Skincare, says that chia oil’s high levels of omega-3s help build collagen—a key for supporting skin structure and maintaining youthful-looking skin.
Dermatologist Dr. Rachel Nazarian of Schweiger Dermatology Group also says there’s evidence that chia oil can decrease the formation of skin darkening (think dark age spots), another key way this oil keeps your face looking fly.
Omega-3 is not only an anti-aging property, it’s anti-inflammatory, too, making chia oil a great remedy for irritated and inflamed skin, Nazarian says. She adds that it’s even shown success in decreasing chronic and severe itchy skin.
Joshua Zeichner, director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, adds that these anti-inflammatory molecules not only soothe inflamed skin, they can even reduce UV damage, to boot.
It has a long shelf life.
You can get more bang for your buck with chia oil: While other oils might go rancid after six months, chia typically lasts far longer. (Norwitz notes that her products have a shelf life of two years even though they don’t contain additives.)
It’s less greasy than other oils.
Norwitz says that chia is on the lighter side, as far as oils go. “While other oils may feel greasy and take a while to absorb, chia is ultra light and rapidly absorbs into the skin.” So, if you’re tired argan oil and find it too thick—or you’re still not so sure about putting oil on your oily skin—give chia a spin.
Where to find it: Lee suggests looking for chia oil as an ingredient in your moisturizer—it could be written on the label as “Salvia Hispanica.” Or, if you want to try the oil in its purest form, check out the offerings at Maya Chia.