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Quinoa: The Ultra-Hydrating Skincare Ingredient You Need This Winter

By Karina Hoshikawa
Refinery29

Quinoa — it's an excellent ancient grain that we love to consume in bowls and dishes for a healthy, protein- and fiber-rich meal. But turns out, it's also a powerhouse beauty ingredient that’s been quietly trending for years, popping up everything from hair-care products to hard-working night creams. "Although it is not quite as well-known in skincare as some fatty fruit oils like coconut and avocado, quinoa oil actually contains 30 times more omegas than coconut oil and four times more omegas than avocado oil," says Dr. Dendy Engelman, MD, FACMS, FAAD, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and Mohs surgeon at the Shafer Clinic in New York City. "These healthy fats make quinoa oil really amazing for the health of the skin barrier, wound-healing, and reducing inflammation." What's more, the powerhouse ingredient also helps lock in hydration round-the-clock.

Curious about its purported benefits, I decided to take a top-rated grain-infused product for a spin to experience the protective benefits firsthand. Nativa SPA, a Brazilian beauty brand that recently launched stateside, is an authority on the so-called “golden grain”, offering a host of quinoa-powered skincare products, including a hydrating hand wash, face oil, and top-rated firming moisturizer. (Founder Miguel Krigsner patented a unique distillation process that extracts extra-pure oil for maximum skin-enriching power.) I decided to take the fan-favorite Quinoa Firming Body Lotion for an IRL spin to experience its (to paraphrase the words of one reviewer) “skin-soaking goodness” first-hand.

While I tend to be very selective about what products I use on my face (mostly because I break out very easily), I'm less fussy about what I apply below the neck. That said, there's nothing in this world more luxurious than fancy body products, and this certainly was that. Immediately, the texture of the lotion (not too heavy or thick, but not runny either) was very much my vibe. As much as I adore a decadent body butter, the truth is that they can sometimes be far too heavy for daytime wear — especially if I plan on putting on pants or leggings immediately post-application.

However, Nativa SPA’s quinoa-infused lotion was the Goldilocks of the body lotion world: Light enough to quickly absorb into my arms and legs, but substantial enough that it actually kept my skin hydrated and soft for hours afterwards. I didn't mind the scent (warm and vanilla-y), but if you've got sensitive or are trying to stick to clean products, then you may want to search for a fragrance-free alternative.

For a $25 lotion, the stuff lives in the world of nice but not unattainably so, yet a major step up from your average drugstore find. After a few weeks of testing, I can't say whether or not the Brazilian beauty buy has made a major difference in the overall firmness of my skin, but as a moisturizer, it passes with flying colors. As this was the first product I tried from the Brazilian brand, I have to admit — it did make me feel a little more Gisele-like. (Bonus points for recycled plastic packaging and planet-friendly refill pouches.) Short of jaunting to sunny Rio — hopefully, one day! — this body lotion is the perfect beauty escape I'm craving this winter.