What are adaptogens in skincare? And how to incorporate them into your routine
Adaptogens are a family of superior unique herbs which work to minimise the physiological effects of stress, bolster and support the immune system and provide antioxidants.
Our skin is our first line of defence and part of our immune system, and the utilisation and application of adaptogenic skincare products, or taking them daily internally, reduce the amount of oxidative stress in our skin, provides protection and support – reducing signs of ageing, dryness and fortifying our moisture barrier (and so much more). Below are 5 adaptogen’s and how their addition to your skincare routine, whether internally or topically, can improve your skin and have you literally, GLOWING.
1. Adaptogens Chaga Mushroom
Chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) is rich in melanin – a protein which determines the colour of our skin but also acts as protection from UV rays and accelerated ageing that comes from sun exposure. Chaga acts like an internal sunscreen almost. Chaga is rich in SOD – which is superoxide dismutase and catalase, two superpotent anti-oxidants. We want potent antioxidants for our skin because oxidative stress causes senescence (deterioration), premature cell death, ageing, pH and lipid imbalances and slowed wound healing. All this means our skin will show signs of ageing faster, can cause breakouts and oil imbalances, and decreased ability to create new cells to replace the damaged dead one that exists after we’ve popped a pimple, or from our acne scars or from sunburn.
Chaga also contains beta-glucans which stimulate our skin cells to create collagen – which we know to be the structural component of our skin that keeps our skin plump, tight and hydrated.
Plantoxidants Reparative Serum
2. Tremella Mushroom
Tremella (Tremella fuciformis) is renowned for being an ancient beauty tonic. It’s a SUPER hydrating compound, holding 1000x it’s weight in water and is ~5x more hydrating than hyaluronic acid – who is an amazing ingredient in skincare products for improving hydration. Tremella is a small particle which enables it to really penetrate the epidermal layer of our skin, topically, and is super beneficial for our skin when consumed internally too. Tremella contains uronic acid – an antioxidant compound that increases SOD, Glutathione peroxidase and catalase – additional antioxidants that protect the skin, reduce lipid barrier dysfunction and protect our moisture barrier – and with our skin being our first line of defence, we can link this into immune function, inflammatory states as well as autoimmune conditions. So it’s so much more than just our skin when we think of the role of antioxidants in skincare and our consumption of adaptogens. Tremella is great for hydrating tired, dry, damaged, sun-kissed, air-conditioned skin.
Moon Juice Plump Jelly
Moon Juice Milk Cleanse Gentle Foaming Cleanser
OY-L Crystal Eye Serum
3. Adaptogens Schisandra Berry
Schisandra is first and foremost, a bomb adaptogen for stress. Schisandra has been shown over and over to improve fatigue, physical performance, endurance, reduce cortisol levels in the blood, supports the liver and promotes calmness throughout the nervous system. On top of all this awesomeness, Schisandra is also a beautyberry, acting as an antioxidant protecting our skin, anti-inflammatory reducing redness and inflammation within the skin, retaining moisture, elasticity, and builds our immunity. One 2018 study which I found to be SUPER interesting, showed that Schisandra protects the skin from global pollution. More specifically it protected keratinocytes – the cells that make us 95% of our epidermis aka what we see in the mirror and touch and are our first line of defence and work to keep our skin junctions tight, to avoid “leaky skin” which equals inflammation and imbalances. Schisandra additionally blocks inflammatory signals that are caused by exposure to the sun’s UVB rays. Schisandra protects our keratinocytes and skin cells (fibroblasts) from oxidation and damage and charges up our own antioxidant pathways and collagen production. Another crazy awesome study showed Schisandra inhibited the growth of P.acnes – the bacteria were seen to be dominating the skin mantle in individuals with acne.
Moon Juice Holy Yoni Adaptogenic Oil
May Lindstrom Skin The Blue Cocoon
4. Adaptogens Pearl Powder
Pearl powder has been traditionally utilised by all the great Ancient civilisations as a beauty tonic. Cleopatra, queen of Egypt, was known to use pearl in her beauty regimen, so if it’s good enough for Cleo, it’s good enough for me. Pearl is literal skin food, being rich in calcium, magnesium, silica, a complete protein and signals the body to create new cells. Pearl is also rich in superoxide dismutase and glutathione – two powerful antioxidants, and is equally beneficial topically and internally, eliciting hydrating and moisturising properties, and can reduce pigmentation due to its tyrosinase content who reverses melanin production, which causes dark spots and freckles and all that character. In addition to its skin benefits, Pearl is a calming adaptogen and helps to build up a depleted individual.
Agent Nateur (holi) water mist
5. Holy Basil
Holy basil or Tulsi is an adaptogen that has so much science and history backing it’s potency for reducing stress, in all the forms it comes it – physical, psychological, mental, emotional etc. Like Ashwagandha, Holy Basil reduces cortisol’s presence in the body and bloodstream, therefore reducing the breaking down effects (catabolic) that it has on body systems and energy reserves. And the reason we want to reduce cortisol is so we can be more in our parasympathetic nervous system, our rest and digest state, utilising the nutrients from our food so they can be delivered to and utilised by our skin cells.
Stress also ramps up the release of oxidative species – like our superoxide anion, hydroxyl radicals and hydrogen peroxide – who damage our DNA and skin cells ability to replicate healthily. Tulsi’s renowned throughout India and Ayurveda, and for skin is anti-inflammatory, calming and reducing redness, and has slightly astringent properties, assisting with breakouts and blemishes, as well as reducing pigmentation naturally – as do all the adaptogens in this list – due to their tyrosinase components.
Evan Healy Tulsi HydroSoul mist
Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream
Youth to the People Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate