“I had such a passion for skincare… for me, there was no choice but to pursue it.”
It’s safe to say that it took only 6 seconds of talking to Maya Chia founder Susanne Norwitz to realize that I was in the company — even by phone — of someone incredibly spirited, passionate, kind and… well, real.
Her enthusiasm is infectious, and her story incredibly empowering. Read on to learn more about Susanne’s introduction to chia oil and how it’s changed both her and her many Maya Chia’s fans’ lives.
Chia oil…how did you two meet? Was it love at first sight?
I first read about the benefits of chia seeds after deciding to undergo a detox and, as part of that detox, the doctor recommended incorporating chia seeds into my diet. I bought a package of chia seeds, started to read the nutrition panel, and was floored by the benefits. It was a true superfood –- the world’s most nutrient-dense plant source with more antioxidants and omega fatty acids than any other plant source. Every virtue described were benefits that were amazing for the health of the skin, your body’s largest organ.
It was a long journey — approximately 2 1/2 years — of finding the best seeds, and the best way to extract the oil from those seeds. In certain cases, as is the case with chia seeds, the extraction method makes all the difference for the longevity and efficacy of the oil. Launching the company didn’t happen overnight, but involved many conversations and visits with industry professionals.
We worked with the nation’s foremost scientists to license the patent for the supercritical extraction of chia seed oil in the United States. Supercritical extraction is a gentle oxygen-free, solvent-free process, which results in oil with a total absence of chemical residues and impurities, and one that most closely mirrors the chemical profile of the plant, and importantly for a natural product, has a two-year shelf life.
How did you go from discovering those benefits to actually creating the products? Did you do the research on how to create them yourself, or did you enlist someone who knew the science behind creating beauty products?
I have to admit that my nerdy side comes out in spades when researching and developing new formulations for our products. I love nothing more than to study ingredients ad nauseum and to comb through clinical studies about the efficacy of those ingredients. Once I have a clear idea about the ingredients, the product I want to launch and what I want to achieve, I will review the formula with our chemist to ensure it is performing at peak effectiveness.
Chia and natural astaxanthin are the leading natural super ingredients to date, and that’s why I created products with those ingredients. We’re not interested in fly-by-night ingredients or the latest in trends that may not yield the results we’re looking for. We are excited because these ingredients create high-performance products that work, that get results…and quickly. In all of our formulations, we work hard to create a proprietary synergistic combination of the best ingredients that will deliver on the promise of the particular product and what it’s supposed to do. In the case of the Super Couple, many of us have have heard about astaxanthin for years in the supplement world. It’s enthusiastically embraced as one of the world’s most powerful antioxidants. My thoughts about efficacy were confirmed after reading the spate of clinical studies regarding astaxanthin’s efficacy in a topical application, and what it could do for the skin.
Can you talk through the greatest joy — and the greatest challenge — of leaving your career behind in pursuance of wellness and maya chia?
The great joy I’ve experienced is to hear positive feedback from our customers and, thankfully, this happens quite a lot. It is the most wonderful feeling in the world to know that a product you made transformed someone’s skin in a profound way. We receive feedback of this sort all the time — whether that person is in their 20’s or 50’s. Although it is somewhat superficial, how someone feels in and about their skin makes a profound difference in the way they move through life.
The greatest challenge for me was leaving a career behind that I worked in for most of my adult life. It’s what I knew, and to a certain extent, what I was comfortable doing. But it was also routine — and had become unfulfilling. I realized that my career, as it was, didn’t capitalize on my full base of strengths and I would always regret not taking the leap to try to realize my own vision. But I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t easy. There were many days when I doubted myself. But I had such a passion for skincare and this new business, for me there was no choice but to pursue it.
You have 30 seconds to convince someone of chia oil’s benefits. go!
Chia seeds are the richest known plant source of omega fatty acids, antioxidants and essential minerals, all factors that play a vital role in skin health. This is really all I needed to know…that there was no other natural oil that would be more nutrient-dense — or more transformative — for the skin than chia seed oil. Additional research confirmed this notion. For example, the Nutritional Science Research Institute tested the nutritional value of chia seed and said it contains “the highest amount of antioxidants we have ever measured” and cited chia as one of the most powerful whole food antioxidants we know. Further, in a study published in the annals of dermatology, chia oil was clinically proven to significantly increase skin hydration, reduce trans-epidermal water loss and increase skin barrier function. After seeing the incredible before and after in which the participants of the study used only a topical 4% chia solution, I thought, “what would happen if you use almost all chia oil (98%) in a product? How would that dramatically transform the skin, and how quickly?”
Which Maya Chia product is your favorite, and why?
I will always have a soft spot for the first product we introduced, which was our signature omega-3 supercritical chia oil. The product is 98% supercritical chia seed oil and a 2% essential oil blend. Simple, but uber effective. It was named a best clean face oil by Goop. It’s hard to decide though, because I also adore our newest product called the Super Couple ™ ultra luxe facial serum. It has natural astaxanthin and supercritical chia, plus 14 plus other active botanicals. The Super Couple ™ targets anti-aging with even more vigor than our supercritical chia oil. It kicks it up a notch by adding natural astaxanthin. Well+Good said the Super Couple was one of the best beauty products to hit the shelves this year. Natural astaxanthin, one of nature’s strongest antioxidants, addresses hyperpigmentation, wrinkles, firmness and elasticity. To give you an idea of its power, natural astaxanthin is clinically proved to be 65x stronger than Vitamin C in combating free radicals.
Debasis Bagchi, Ph.D. Pharmacy Sciences, Creighton University School of Health Sciences
Can you share with us any of your very own personal beauty/wellness routines?
As long as you choose the right high-performance products, you don’t have to undergo an elaborate, time-intensive routine. In fact, I’m a believer in a more simplified approach to beauty & wellness. When I created the line, I wanted to create multi-purpose products and, when possible, streamline my customers’ routines. One thing I was certain of, most people these days are wildly busy and anything I could do to simplify their routine would be welcomed. But the products had to work, and work exceptionally well.
My routine is ultra minimalist. I use Maya Chia’s The Great Cleanse Cleansing Oil in the morning and follow with the Super Couple Ultra Luxe Face Oil, which possesses the bonus of adding a little extra glow and radiance to the skin. Makeup artists have told me that the Super Couple also acts as a wonderful primer before applying makeup. Also, I never leave the house without sunblock.
At night, I cleanse and nourish with the Super Couple or our Original Oil, depending on whether I want to turbo-charge my routine with additional anti-aging benefits. I also use our oils along the perimeter of the orbital bone, never too close to the eye. The oils act as a powerful, nourishing moisturizer for the eyes. I’ve also received wonderful anecdotal feedback about how the Super Couple has diminished customers’ dark eye circles.
What’s the greatest piece of advice you’ve ever been given? And the worst?
The worst piece of advice: nothing worth having comes easily. Actually, I’ve found the opposite to be the case. The best things in my life, the things that I love and the people who I love have, for the most part, been based on an overall feeling of effortless ease.
The greatest piece of advice: to try and be joyful in every single day, even when you are doing work that might not excite you to the core. I recently saw a documentary about Mike Tyson, and he kept saying that when he was at the height of his career as heavyweight champion of the world, he approached his training in the spirit of joyful zest. That really resonated with me. I love the idea of training your mind to embrace what you are doing with total focus, love and joy. When you are passionate about what you are doing, you are able to do that. To approach your life — and even the most mundane tasks — with joyful zest.
How do you nurture inner beauty?
Finding a passion for what you do is critical for creating and nurturing your highest self. That passion can be your profession, but it doesn’t have to be. In my case, I’m very fortunate that my profession is my life’s passion. Enthusiasm for what you’re doing is contagious, and likeminded joyful people will want to be a part of the ride — and that makes for a good time. At the base, this is the foundation that makes me a happier and nicer person, and when you’re a kinder version of yourself (free of any of the bitterness or longing for what might have been), your inner beauty can easily come through. Also, a significant part of creating inner beauty is feeling good in your skin. You need to nourish that skin from the inside, and the outside. What you put on your skin can feed your skin, and nourish and transform it.
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