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What Are Adaptogens and How Can They Serve You in Skincare?
For anyone who's been wondering what adaptogens are and if they're worth your $$$.
There’s a beauty buzzword making the community rounds, and it goes by the name of adaptogens. While they’ve technically been around for quite a while — largely utilized by those who rely on the Earth for their health and beauty needs — they’ve become increasingly more mainstream in the skincare community over the last 12 months. You can thank trendy skincare brands, such as Moon Juice, Youth to the People, and Laura Mercier for that. And really, you should be thanking them.
The DL on Adaptogens
Though the name sounds a little science-y, it’s actually self-explanatory. In short: adaptogens help the skin and body adapt to the environment around them, explains Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and the assistant professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.
She explains, “Adaptogens are natural substances that help with relieving the body of stressors and fatigue. They can help to reduce inflammation and irritation, [and] can help with collagen and elastin production. Some of the most common adaptogens are ginseng, holy basil, milk thistle, rosemary, aloe vera, and licorice root, [and reishi mushrooms].”
We know what you’re probably thinking: these ingredients have been around forever. You're correct. Dr. Sejal Shah, a board-certified cosmetic dermatologist and the founder of SmarterSkin Dermatology, speculates that adaptogens are gaining momentum as part of the broader “natural and organic skincare” trend.
“The term adaptogen itself is not a new term,” she confirms. “Many natural ingredients that have been used for some time in skincare fall into the category of adaptogens. I think, overall, in skincare there has been a trend toward more natural ingredients.”
Further, the latest generation of adaptogenic skincare products are arguably being formulated in such a way that makes adaptogens the star ingredients versus simply playing a supporting role.
Shopping Adaptogenic Skincare
As mentioned, adaptonic skincare products are gaining momentum — a simple Google search confirms that, and will lead you to many shoppable options. One particularly noteworthy product is Youth to The People’s Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream, which contains the brand’s proprietary adaptogen blend of ashwagandha, rhodiola, reishi, and holy basil. It’s a thick, beige cream that glides onto the skin beautifully and works as both a nightcap and pre-makeup primer.
Moon Juice also sells a handful of topical adaptogenic products, including their Beauty Shroom Exfoliating Acid Potion, Beauty Shroom Plumping Jelly Serum, and Holy Yoni oil. The brand has also formulated a line of adaptogenic ingestible products which you can mix into your coffee, tea, smoothies, pre-workouts, or even baking recipes. They're packaged sexily — one's even dubbed Sex Dust — which makes them pretty hard to resist.
Dr. Shah says that, "Adaptogens, when ingested, are believed to help the body adapt to stress and restore normal physiological functioning in the body."
Which Skin Types Benefit Most from Adaptogens?
The answer to this is also pretty straightforward. Adaptogenic products help the body adapt to the less glamourous aspects of the world around us, including environmental hazards, internal stress, pollution, and UV rays. As such, they’re approved for the masses.
“All skin types can benefit from adaptogens, especially skin with inflammation and irritation such as acne-prone skin and those with rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis,” notes Dr. Jaliman. “Just be cautious to not overuse or over stimulate your body.”
It goes without saying that adaptogens shouldn’t replace any of your current skincare steps, and that they certainly shouldn’t replace medical care. Think of them more as a supplement to your regimen, and one more way you can take better care of your skin.