Tiny but mighty, chia seed oil packs more punch than most superfoods. Chia, often seen by its Latin name salvia hispanica on skincare ingredient labels, is a species of flowering plant in the mint family. Native to Central America, it was relied on by Mayan and indigenous people as a true superfood source due to its high protein, mineral, omega and antioxidant content. Which is why it’s no wonder chia means “strength” in Mayan.
Among one of its strengths, is the high alpha linoleic acid, commonly known as omega-3 fatty acids. With the highest gram for gram omega-3 content of any food source, it’s packed with 600 mg/g versus the 500 mg/g in flax seeds and the 300 mg/g in fish oils. Essential to our health, omega-3s are not produced by our bodies, nor can they be artificially produced, so it’s important we incorporate a natural source into our diets. With the decline in availability of sustainable and healthy fish, we’ve seen the popularity of chia seed consumption on the rise.
The power of chia doesn’t end there. In skincare, the extraction of the chia seed oil allows for the skin to absorb the high level of protective antioxidants and the anti-inflammatory properties of omega-3s along with other repairing and calming minerals. But bend these effects, chia seed oil is ultra-moisturizing which results in skin that is visibly smoother, hydrated and healthy.
The preferred method of extracting chia seed oil is through the supercritical fluid extraction method. When oils are extracted using the “supercritical” method, they are subject to a gas, in this case carbon dioxide, that has become a liquid due to a combination of pressure and heat higher than its critical temperature. This allows for the CO2 to work as a solvent to dissolve the natural components present in the chia seed. Afterwards, the CO2 is returned to its normal gaseous state and what remains is the resulting extract. With CO2 working as a sanitizing agent, this method renders a higher quality oil, absent of chemical residues with a lot longer shelf life. This highly efficient method is not only able to extract more oil from the chia seed, it extracts oil at the highest molecular weight of any other extraction method, unlocking a concentrated and pure oil more akin to the whole plant. This makes supercritical CO2 extraction the preferred method for clean beauty formulators.
So even though chia was used as the Mayans “strength,” it is not only a superfood but a superstar for skincare. Which is why it’s no wonder Maya Chia Beauty, the brand featured in this month’s Discovery, favors chia seed oil that’s been generated by this supercritical fluid extraction method. Susanne Norwitz, the founder, and formulator of Maya Chia Beauty was so impressed with the benefits of supercritical CO2 extracted chia oil, she even invested in the exclusive license of a patented supercritical chia oil extraction for skincare in the United States. The result was a chia oil for her skincare line that’s the gold standard of purity, stability and maximum potency. To get the ultimate chia skincare experience, you can shop the Maya Chia line in our Beauty Store today.