Chia seeds
Chia seeds are filled with antioxidants and can contribute to a radiant skin. They act like a shield, and locking in moisture and prevent dehydration. Image Credit:

Have you ever looked in the mirror and wished your skin looked a little more radiant? Believe it or not, the answer might be hiding in your pantry! Chia seeds, those tiny black specks you sprinkle on cereal, are becoming a secret weapon in the fight for glowing skin. These nutritional nuggets, offer significant benefits for skin health.

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So you can bid goodbye to dullness and ageing, and say hello to hydrated, plump perfection – all thanks to a sprinkle of seeds!

Let’s dive in.

What exactly are chia seeds?

Chia seeds
Chia seeds act like tiny sponges, soaking up to ten times their weight in water. So, when you consume chia seeds, they release stored water throughout the day. Image Credit:

Packed with vital nutrients, chia seeds are more than just a breakfast fad.

Possibly one of the most popular nutrient-rich foods, chia seeds are sourced from the plant Salvia hispanica. Their popularity has become widespread across the globe for their nutritional profile. As Ankita Tuknayat, a Dubai-based dermatologist from Aster Clinic Dubai explains, "These seeds comprise different functional components including fibre, polyphenols, antioxidants, omega‐3 fatty acid vitamins, minerals, and peptides, which contribute to a healthy and radiant glow." She elaborates, the seeds contain high amounts of B vitamins including niacin, folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin, and Vitamin E. These are vital ingredients that contribute to healthy skin, hair and nail growth.

Claire Lennette, a Dubai-based dermatologist, highlights the key to chia seeds' magic: Their incredible water absorption. “Chia seeds act like tiny sponges, soaking up to ten times their weight in water,” she explains. This is deeply beneficial for your skin. When you consume chia seeds, they release stored water slowly throughout the day, keeping your skin hydrated and plump from within.

Chia seeds
Chia seeds can be consumed with your breakfast, or consumed topically. Image Credit:

However, that’s not all. Chia seeds can also be used topically. Lennette explains, “Soaked chia seeds transform into a gel that acts like a shield for your skin. It locks in moisture and prevents dehydration, keeping your skin supple and healthy." This hydrated skin barrier is your first line of defence against environmental aggressors, promoting overall skin health.

These seeds comprise different functional components including fibre, polyphenols, antioxidants, omega‐3 fatty acid, vitamins, minerals, and peptides, which give your skin a radiant and healthy glow...

- Ankita Tuknayat, a Dubai-based dermatologist from Aster Clinic Dubai

These seeds are also a rich source of alpha linoleic acid, which act as a strong skin barrier protecting the skin from external pollutants and environmental stress. The chia seed extract, which is rich in Vitamin F, helps in hydrating the skin and strengthening the barrier function, according to a US-based 2020 study published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology.

Taming the flames: Anti-inflammatory power

Struggling with breakouts or irritated skin? Chia seeds to the rescue here too!

Helen Boise, a British Dubai-based clinical dietician, explains, “Chia seeds are a good source of omega-3 fatty acids, particularly alpha-linolenic acid. These elements possess anti-inflammatory properties that help soothe and calm irritated skin. By reducing inflammation, chia seeds may help minimise the redness and swelling associated with breakouts.”

There have been several studies trying to decipher the link between dietary omega-3 fatty acids and sebum production. Sebum is an oily substance produced by the skin and while it helps keep skin hydrated, excess sebum can clog pores and contribute to breakouts. According to a 2023 study titled Chia seeds (Salvia hispanica L.): A therapeutic weapon in metabolic disorders, published in the US-based academic journal, Food, Science and Nutrition, the omega-3 acids might be competing with omega-6 acids in the body, creating a bit of a tug-of-war situation. Omega-3s are known for their anti-inflammatory properties, while omega-6s can promote inflammation.

As Boise explains, “When there is a balance between these two fatty acids in the body, your body has a regulated inflammatory response. However, if there is an excess of Omega 6 acids, it could lead to inflammation and potentially increase sebum production.” So, by increasing your omega-3 intake with chia seeds, you might be indirectly influencing sebum production in a way that reduces breakouts.

Keeping the skin firm: Stimulating collagen production

Chia seeds are a treasure trove of protein, which is essential for collagen production. Image Credit:

Chia seeds are a treasure trove of protein, which is essential for collagen production, explain the specialists. Chia seeds might indirectly stimulate collagen production through their protein content, which is essential for keeping the skin firm, improving elasticity and giving you a youthful appearance.

The chia seeds could encourage crucial skin enzymes, such as collagenase, hyaluronidase, and elastase, which prevent skin ageing, according to a 2024 US-based study published in the International Journal of Molecular Sciences. Nevertheless the research also emphasises that while chia seeds provide these building blocks of protein, it doesn't necessarily guarantee a direct increase in collagen production.

Protection from the sun?

Packed with Vitamin E, chia seeds act like a sunscreen of sorts.

As Boise explains, “Chia seeds contain vitamin E, which is an excellent nutrient for the skin. It may reduce damage caused by the sun by absorbing ultraviolet rays and reduce skin’s inflammatory response, which includes swelling and reddening.” However, she emphasises, that you shouldn’t consider it a replacement for sunscreen by any means: Just think of the seeds like an extra layer of defence.

How to incorporate chia seeds into your skincare routine and diet:

Chia seeds
Amp up your breakfast with a sprinkle of chia seeds. Image Credit:

For starters, you can amp up your breakfast with a sprinkle of chia seeds. As Boise explains, you can combine chia seeds with milk (dairy or plant-based), yoghurt, or even fruit juice and leave them overnight. In the morning, a nutritious pudding will be ready. “You can customise it with your favorite toppings like fresh fruit, nuts, seeds, or a drizzle of honey,” she explains.

You can even mix it up with a smoothie. Add a spoonful or two of chia seeds to your morning smoothie for a protein and fibre boost. They blend well with all sorts of fruits, vegetables, and yoghurt for a healthy and filling breakfast, says Boise. You can even add them to your salads, and elevate your vegetable bowls by adding a sprinkle of the seeds.

In terms of skincare

Mix a tablespoon of ground chia seeds with honey or yogurt to create a DIY face mask. Leave it on for 15 minutes, then rinse with warm water, explains Kalinda Shah, an Abu Dhabi-based dermatologist. You can also add soaked chia seeds to Aloe Vera gel, and apply on the skin for sunburn, skin sensitivity and skin irritation.

Mixing chia seeds with cucumber seeds isn’t a bad idea either. “Let it soak for a few minutes, after which apply to a cotton eye pad and place on the eyes as an eye mask,” she says.

However, as all the specialists warn: Do a patch test first, to see if you are allergic. “Avoid eating them in large quantities, as it may lead to constipation,” warns Shah