I’ve been munching on the Mesoamerican superfood chia seed for about a year now, and am thrilled that skin care companies have been coming aboard the chia train. These tiny gems from the mint family originated in Central America, where they were revered as fuel for marathon runners and warriors.
Each seed contains 25 percent oil, which is why the Aztecs called them "chian," meaning oily. Chia oil is packed with linolenic acid and Omega-3 fatty acid. When applied to skin (or ingested) it helps regulate and thin out sebum. It is nutritious to internal tissues and calming to outer tissues.
I gathered up a few chia products from three brands to see what’s cooking.
Perricone MD Chia Serum
Perricone MD is famous for its patented skin care innovation, and my friends swear by the label’s Cold Plasma and Vitamin C serum. Their Chia Serum is chia suspended in a blend of other nutritious face oils, such as meadowfoam seed oil, kukui oil, and rice bran oil.
Meadowfoam seed oil has an extremely long shelf life, making this purchase aces in the anti-spoilage department. High in tocopherols, antioxidants, and polyphenols, rice bran oil has also been coming up on some fame lately as well.
To test this serum, I applied it solo after washing, as well as in my normal routine of essence, toner, serum, oil, and moisturizer. Both times, the serum, which I would consider a face oil, sank in beautifully, didn’t clog my pores, and felt silky and light. At $75 per ounce, it's not cheap, but you only need a few drops at a time--so one ounce could last a couple of months. The added fragrance was surprising, but not too noticeable.
The Face Shop Watery Toner, Watery Lotion, and Moisture Holding Seed Cream
The Face Shop takes a different approach to chia. Instead of using its fatty acid-laced oils, they use water that has been soaked in chia, harnessing its mineral-rich and extra-oxygen-dense gel. This comes across right away when you try the products. I picked up a small trial kit with three chia products and a few sheet masks (MY FAVE!). Watery Toner, Watery Lotion, and Moisture Holding Seed Cream are as wet as they say. And I was so into the feeling!
Again, I used my tried and true testing method of applying the products on their own plus folding them into my existing routine. The watery feeling is ironically even better when combined with my oily routine.
I popped the tub of Seed Cream in my carry-on for a recent flight and was so happy to use it after a few hours of dryness. Something about the gel-like texture really appealed to me, and it did its job of combatting the dryness of higher altitudes. The toner and lotion didn’t disappoint with a light scent and dewy appearance. The sheet mask was as good as most of the others I have tried, but I have yet to be let down by a sheet mask.
One of the first brands to come out with chia products, One Love Organics uses a process called supercritical extraction (the use of carbon dioxide to separate the components of plant matter) for its ultra-pure chia oil.
This oil contributes to the foamy goodness that is Chia Whip Cleanser, which I am super duper into. It leaves my skin feeling totally clean, tight, and ready for OLO’s Supercritical Chia Oil, which smells similar to chamomile.
Chia oil’s huge Omega-3 content is smoothing and softening, and doesn’t clog pores, making it an excellent choice for a face oil. This one is the most expensive per ounce, but you are paying for quality and clarity.
Luckily all of these products have a different function, or I would have to choose favorites. But if you twisted my arm, it would have to be OLO’s Chia Whip and The Face Shop’s Moisture Holding Seed Cream, which completely outperformed my expectations.
Have you tried any chia products? How did they work for you?