Clean beauty may seem like a relatively modern concept, but it’s actually nothing new. Plant oils have served as the foundation for healthy skin for thousands of years: The Egyptians had sesame. The Greeks turned to olive. But the Incas may have had the most precious of all in the quinoa—a wondergrain with oil so nutritive it looks like liquid gold. Here’s what makes quinoa oil shine as a skincare ingredient.
- What is Quinoa Oil?
- The Benefits of Quinoa Oil for Skin
- What Makes Our Quinoa Oil Superior
- How to Use Quinoa Oil
What is Quinoa Oil?
Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a plant native to the Andes region of South America. Considered a complete source of plant protein, its nutrition profile is uniquely robust, earning it the reputation of being a perfect food and a supergrain. But it doesn’t just fuel your body. Extracted from the seeds, quinoa oil contains a concentrated dose of all of those nutrients to feed the skin.
The Benefits of Quinoa Oil for Skin
It provides antioxidant protection
Research shows that quinoa is antioxidant-rich—and a superior source when compared to other grains. This is due to its concentration of polyphenols like quercetin and tocopherols like vitamin E. “Antioxidants help neutralize free radicals,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai in NYC. Free radicals are unpaired ions, essentially freewheeling molecules that wreak havoc on skin in the form of wrinkles, brown spots, and sagging. They emanate from environmental sources like UV and pollution. By neutralizing them, though, you can safeguard your skin from damage.
It firms and brightens
By virtue of its antioxidant protection, quinoa oil helps to prevent the damage associated with skin sagging and brown spots. But it goes deeper than that.
It replenishes omega fatty acids 30x better than coconut oil
Omega fatty acids are among the sturdiest building blocks of healthy skin. Research indicates they play a pivotal role in everything from wound healing to mitigating the effects of inflammation. While our body produces omega-9 on its own, we get omegas-3 and -6 from diet. Applying them topically, however, re-ups our skin supply instantly. Quinoa oil is a generous source of all three: it has 30x more than coconut oil, 4x more than avocado oil, and 2x more than almond oil. (And in this case, there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing.)
It strengthens the skin barrier
Omega fatty acids are best known for their work supporting the skin barrier—the outermost layer of skin that acts as a buffer between you and the outside world. “They’re like the spackle for skin,” says Zeichner. “They help seal in the cracks between rough cells.” This results in a smoother, firmer, and more luminous-looking surface.
It deeply moisturizes
The biggest benefit of fortifying the barrier, however, is moisture. “If the barrier isn’t adequately sealed, then the skin can’t retain hydration,” says Zeichner, “and this leads to dryness.” Quinoa is super emollient, delivering moisture to the skin’s surface. But it’s also occlusive, meaning it holds in the moisture and prevents what’s known as transepidermal water loss—a natural process that causes water to evaporate from the skin. This is especially important when it comes to bodycare. While the skin on the face has a high concentration of sebaceous glands, which act as built-in moisturizers, the skin on our body has considerably less. (That’s why your knee, for example, is so much drier than your nose.)
What Makes Our Quinoa Oil Superior
There are several ways to extract oil from a natural source. One involves solvents, molecules that dissolve other molecules. But that requires the addition of chemical actives like BHT—a toxin banned by the EU and us—that can leave behind a residue in the finished product. We developed a patented, innovative extraction process that preserves the whole nutrition of quinoa and delivers the purest and most potent oil possible. It takes 25kg of pure quinoa to make 1kg of the oil. That’s one of the reasons it’s so precious to us, and so powerful for your skin.
How to Use Quinoa Oil
We make it super easy to use quinoa oil—it’s infused into everything we make at Nativa Spa, so you can reap its rewards no matter which product you choose. One of our Moisturizing Lotions is a great place to start. “I recommend applying moisturizers within five minutes of getting out of the shower, when the skin is still damp,” says Zeichner. “This actually provides the water that humectant ingredients bind onto for optimal skin hydration.” Getting strategic with your application can also help enhance quinoa oil’s benefits. “When you apply it, use the connect the dots method,” says Zeichner. “Apply small dots over the surface area of the skin, then rub it in to connect them. This is easier than applying a large amount to one area and trying to spread it afterwards.”
No matter how you use quinoa oil on your skin, just know that by caring for the skin on your body, you're caring for yourself. “When it comes to skincare,” says Zeichner, “the work does not end after you treat your face.”