You can inject your face with fillers and head over to the swankiest spa in town, but you’re not doing your skin any favors unless you turn to some of the jewels that nature has to offer. We already know the heavy hitters: vitamin C, aloe vera, and coconut oil to name a few, but what about the other, more complicated ones that are often underlooked, like adaptogens?
We’ve all seen this ingredient’s name slapped across our namesake skincare and wellness products before, but let’s be real: many of us don’t actually know what it is. On this series of “what the f*ck is in my face cream,” we explore the ins and outs of this trending holistic ingredient.
What Are Adaptogens?
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Adaptogens are components found in herbs like Ashwagandha root, Reishi mushrooms, and Schisandra plant to help “override some of the body’s natural programming to better equip you to deal with physical, emotional, and mental stress,” according to Barbara Close, herbalist, esthetician and founder of Naturopathica. They may seem like it’s part of the new wave of Gwyneth Paltrow-approved hype items, but they’ve actually been used for centuries in Chinese medicine as a stress reliever. “Their name says it all, adaptogens help the skin and body ‘adapt’ to environmental stress,” says Close. Basically, they’re great for aiding your body into an equilibrium state, in case you (or your complexion) are feeling a little haywire.
The best way to get your adaptogenic boost is by digesting them: once digested, these herbs help counteract the effects of stress in your body by moderating the release of stress hormones, according to Close. A 2018 study found that adaptogens can actually increase your body’s resistance to external stress factors, help you sleep, and help reduce your risk of cancer. They’re essentially a powerhouse of benefits for your body.
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So, they’re great for the body, but what’s the point of rubbing them into your skin? According to Close, they have antioxidant properties to help soothe and repair your skin of free-radical damage, plus have the same stress-relieving properties to chill out your complexion. Because as we all (should) know, stress can lead to a cornucopia of skin issues: inflammation, premature signs of aging, and acne, to name a few.
Close recommends using adaptogens to anyone with “stress reactive skin,” a.k.a. skin that’s prone to sensitivity or redness from stress-related lifestyle factors. If you want to give adaptogens a try in your skincare routine, then check out our favorite skincare picks, below:
Naturopathica Ginger Clarifying Concentrate
Ginger is one of Close’s favorite adaptogen-filled roots for the skin. “When applied to the skin, ginger root acts like an antioxidant to protect against free radicals and can help tighten the appearance of pores,” she says. Enter: this concentrate, which is filled with ginger extract and skin-refining Beta Hydroxy Acids to balance and clarify your complexion.
Moon Juice Exfoliating Acid Potion
If you want to know my holy grail product, it’s this exfoliating potion from Moon Juice. I genuinely love this skincare product: it’s filled with a mixture of AHAs and BHAs to give your skin the ultimate exfoliation treatment, while adaptogenic reishi and vitamin E balance and hydrate skin. The results: a velvety-smooth, even texture, without any dryness.
Youth To The People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream
This moisturizer gives you a hefty hydration boost with its cream formula, while providing a blend of adaptogenic plants like reishi mushroom, ashwagandha root, holy basil, and rhodiola, to soothe and comfort even the driest of skin types.
High Beauty High Expectations Cannabis Seed Facial Oil
Fun fact: CBD, which is found in hemp oil, is an adaptogen. So, celebrate your stoner friend’s favorite beauty ingredient with this hemp-infused facial oil, which also contains a mixture of other beauty favorites: coconut, argan, and rosehip oils, to name a few.