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.
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.
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.
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