There are some brands that take integrity to the next level. Maya Chia is one of them. From ingredients to sourcing, innovation, and steadfast persistence, Maya Chia founder Susanne Norwitz does not stop at great. She aims for the unthinkable and makes it happen.
Maya Chia is a line I’ve been using for several years now and although it was love at first application, my appreciation for and understanding of Susanne’s works continues to grow and compound over time—which is why it was MY time to write up my Maya Chia review.
Susanne formulates out of her lab in Charleston, South Carolina. She’s a perfectionist at heart and it shows in her work. She’s been known to iterate a formula hundreds of times before releasing it.
Case in point: She made me a custom blush 2 years ago that I still wear to this day. Every time I wear it, I get compliments and people ask where they can buy it. Well, you can’t buy it because she never mass made it. It’s the perfect shade, the perfect consistency, the perfect scent—just an all-around crowd-pleaser. And it just sits in her head because it’s apparently not perfect enough. (This is not a dig, it’s a plea!)
Related: Girl Talk with Susanne Norwitz
Charged with the goal of creating something she hadn’t seen yet, Susanne pivoted (leaving her political and Fortune 100 speech-writing career in the dust) and set out on a new path: to create a results-driven, effective skincare line using only the highest quality ingredients.
And as you know, the rest is history. Okay, I’m a sucker for great ingredients so let’s start there for my Maya Chia review.
Maya Chia uses 109 high-performance ingredients sourced from over 40 countries across the world. And by “high-performance,” we are talking organic, wild-crafted, efficacious ingredients backed by independent third-party clinical studies. HALLA!
The entire Maya Chia line draws on the power of chia seeds and you will see this ingredient in every single one of their formulas. In fact, chia seeds have been used since ancient times for dietary and medical purposes and are chock-full of omega fatty acids, antioxidants and essential minerals. (1)
Additionally, the Nutritional Science Research Institute tested the nutritional value of chia seed and said it contains “the highest number of antioxidants we have ever measured.”
But in true Susanne Norwitz fashion, the buck doesn’t stop at “the highest number of antioxidants.” Oh contraire mon frere. Susanne actually uses what’s called supercritical extraction. It’s a gentle, oxygen-free, solvent-free process that results in an oil with a total absence of chemical residues, impurities, and no degradation of the original compounds. (1)
This extraction process is one of the most effective methods available AND Maya Chia has patented chia seed oil CO2 extraction, which means this is the only place you will find it.
Ingredient innovation and integrity follows suit throughout the entire line. For example, Maya Chia was one of the first brands to bring results-driven BHT-free retinol and astaxanthin (which is 6,000x stronger than vitamin C in combating free radicals) to the beauty space.
And I have to be honest, it’s just so refreshing to find a brand that continues to lead instead of follow—redefining what skincare can do. Innovation is the name of Susanne’s game and I’m a proud season ticket holder.
And it’s not just all talk. I mean, you can take my word for it (keep reading) or you can check out this laundry list of skincare awards and accolades Maya Chia has received and continues to receive. The beauty world has spoken y’all!
My Maya Chia review
Okay, let me just preface this conversation by saying that last year I hosted a Maya Chia faves giveaway and I gave away my 9 (YES NINE!) faves 😂. #whodoesthat?!
But seriously though, every product has something so very special to offer, it’s really hard to narrow it down. But after great deliberation, these are my top 3—and my full Maya Chia review.
1. The Straight A
No surprise here and TBH, I would be remiss to start with anything else. I’ve publically named The Straight A my #1 pick of 2020 and it will probably be my #1 pick of 2021 too—lol. I mean, when it works, it works!
What makes The Straight A so special? It’s pretty much a tie between efficacy and innovation.
This is a retinol (yes, real retinol) in an oil base of…you guessed it! Chia seed oil.
It also improves fine wrinkles, stimulates collagen production and it’s effective in the treatment of aging and photoaging. (2)
But I don’t need science to tell me that. I literally saw a difference IN JUST DAYS after I started using The Straight A. Right away, hyperpigmentation started to fade and my overall skin tone looked brighter and more even. And over time, I even noticed a reduction in fine lines around my eyes. Check out my before and after pics here.
But here’s the catch: Not all retinols are created equal. They come in different forms, different strengths and different formulas. The tricky thing is, most retinols (in their raw state) contain BHA or BHT. These act as preservatives and if they are added during processing, BHA and BHT won’t appear on the final ingredient list. The Straight A is BHT free, which is a big deal.
RELATED: For more about preservatives in retinols and what that means, check out what to look for and how to shop for retinol here.
The Straight A also delivers bakuchiol and moth bean extract, which are two botanic ingredients that deliver similar results to retinol (improving the look of fine lines and promoting plumper, smoother, more radiant, healthier-looking skin)—as well as a shelf-stable vitamin C, vitamin E, naturally occurring vitamin A, dark-horse buriti oil, and of course supercritical chia seed oil.
RELATED: Read my full review with Before + After pictures included.
I’ve recommended this oil again and again and I get nothing but, “OMG Lis, you were so right!” in return. And I’m like, “I know, girl, I KNOW!”
This is also because Susanne formulates with a higher percentage of retinol than some of the other retinol formulas I’ve checked out. She actually did tell me the exact percentage in confidence, but you can also tell by checking out the ingredient list. Retinol here is listed second compared to other formulas I’ve seen list retinol in the middle or even very dead last on the label. Of course, this is not an exact science, but ingredient label positioning is an indicator you can use as a clue to how strong a formula is.
My personal recommendation for how to use The Straight A from Maya Chia
Start off using it once a day and adjust to every other day or every third day if needed. And you can either use it as a straight moisturizer OR you can wear it as a serum under your cream or balm. I personally like layering it under a balm or cream before bed.
Oh, and don’t forget to apply to your neck and hands too.
If you try anything from the Maya Chia line, try The Straight A!
2. The Refresh Mint
This is another very active treatment. (See any themes here?!) The Refresh Mint is a resurfacing moisture mask that uses 4 different types of acids, as well as enzymes and hydrators, which work to exfoliate, brighten and moisturize the skin. Check it out:
- Azelaic acid (improves brightness and skin tone, reduces redness, reduces fine lines and wrinkles, improves texture and clarity).
- Lactic acid (also improves brightness, induces glow and reduces the appearance of pores).
- Salicylic Acid from wintergreen extract (clarifies and refines the look of pores).
- Pumpkin and pineapple enzymes (to gently exfoliate, soothe and soften).
This mask goes on cool and tingly and smells like mint with a touch of indetectable fennel.
Susanne actually invited me (along with Beauty Heroes Founder Jeannie Jarnot, my friend Molly from Maison Pur, and my friend Jessica Morse, founder of The Water Room and Bare Beauty Blog) to the Maya Chia studio in 2019 to help finalize the scent of this mask. It was so fun getting to peek behind the scenes and also put a tiny little fingerprint on this delightful mask. (Pay no attention to that wine glass!😂).
I love that this mask is a quick-hit exfoliator without any granules. It’s gentle, effective, and downright transformative.
My personal recommendation for how to use The Refresh Mint
One to two times a week, apply this mask and leave it on until it dries, about 10-15 minutes and wash off with a warm cloth. I love doing this in the morning while I brush up.
I’ve hosted skincare events where I’ve gotten to see this mask used by several women at the same time and it’s so interesting because it’s really visibly active on some people while on others, it’s more mild. For me, I can feel that initial hit of the acids working, which then dissipates as the mask dries.
If you have sensitive skin, Maya Chia recommends spot testing on a small patch of skin first and then potentially leaving the mask on for a shorter period of time.
3. The Optimist | $58
What I love about this mist is it has a lightweight feel, but delivers the high-performance ingredients of an essence.
I’m talking major hydration that lasts. Like, if I could only pluck out one thing to say about this formula: It gets the job done.
And by “the job” I mean it delivers hydration AND glow via a proprietary blend of antioxidants, amino acids, polysaccharides, phytonutrients and fatty acids, such as sake, white tea, chia seed, astaxanthin and licorice extracts.
Also, p.s., the misting device delivers the most perfect, fine, soothing relaxing mist. And, like all Maya Chia products, the scent is also perfection.
P.S… More Maya Chia reviews
Okay, after much deliberation, those are my top picks but there is really so much more to discover here. I also want to highlight the following because they also have something really special to offer and may be a great fit for you.
The Supercritical Omega-3 Chia Face Oil | $60
The Supercritical Omega-3 Chia Face Oil is a fantastic way to discover the benefits of chia seed oil as a skin moisturizer (5), plus the price is right too. The Maya Chia reviews rave about this oil doing it all—from reducing pore size, healing dry spots, eradicating dark undereye bags, improving smoothness, plumping, and on and on! Plus again, the scent is 🍊🧡👌. You literally can’t go wrong here.
Supercritical Chia Waterless Wonder Balm | $45
The Great Cleanse | $ 48
If you haven’t transitioned to an oil cleanser yet, girl, do yourself a favor and don’t delay. It’s one of the most skin-transforming practices you can do. The Maya Chia Great Cleanse rinses clean with water leaving skin soft and moisturized.
Do you have a Maya Chia fave?
1. Hrnčič, Maša, Knez; Ivanovski, Maja; Cör, Darija; Knez, Želijko; Chia Seeds (Salvia Hispanica L.): An Overview—Phytochemical Profile, Isolation Methods, and Application; MDPI, Molecules, December 18th, 2019. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6994964
2. Mukherjee, Siddharth; Date, Abhijit; Patravale, Vandana; Korting, Hans, Christian; Roeder, Alexander; Weindl, Günther; Retinoids in the treatment of skin aging: an overview of clinical efficacy and safety; Clinical Interventions in Aging, December 2006. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2699641/
3. Shao, Yuan; He, Tianyuan; Fisher, J., Gary; Voorhees, J., John; Quan, Taihao; Molecular basis of retinol anti-aging properties in naturally aged human skin in vivo; Int. J Cosmet Sci., July 4th, 2016; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17515510/
4. Kafi, Reza; Kwak, R, Shin, Heh; Schumacher, E, Wendy; Cho, Soyun; Hanft, N, Valerie; Hamilton, A, Ted; King, L., Anya; Neal, D, Jacqueline; Varani, James; Fisher, J, Gary; Voorhees, J, John; Kang, Sewon; Improvement of naturally aged skin with vitamin A (retinol); JAMA Dermatology, May 2007; https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17515510/
5. Kyoo, Se, Jeong , Ph.D.; Park, Jung, Hyun, Ph.D.; Park, Deog, Byeong, Ph.D.; Kim, Il-Hwan, M.D; Effectiveness of Topical Chia Seed Oil on Pruritus of End-stage Renal Disease (ESRD) Patients and Healthy Volunteers; Annals of Dermatology, May 2017. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2883415/#:~:text=In%20conclusion%2C%20topical%20chia%20seed,chronic%20renal%20failure%20or%20diabetes.