Adaptogens & Skin Care: 7 Options That Support Healthy Skin
While innovation in the wellness industry is welcomed with wide-open arms, many of the "newest" trends come from ancient history. Adaptogens popped up a few years back as an exciting addition to the wildly popular superfood trend. It refers to plants and herbs that "adapt" to what your body needs in order to manage stress.
Research has found1 these unique healing plants and herbs can combat fatigue, promote mental performance, and support energy levels. What more can you ask for from nature's bounty? How about an added dose of gorgeous skin? Here, the seven best adaptogens that help you get glowing. Look for the ingredients in products or skin-enhancing supplements.
Also known as Indian ginseng, the ashwagandha plant is a small shrub with yellow flowers. Among its many benefits, this adaptogen has been shown to lower oil-spiking cortisol levels, so if you're prone to acne breakouts, ashwagandha is one of your allies. And if you're already suffering from a breakout, the herb is great as a spot treatment since it’s also antiseptic, antibacterial2, antifungal, and reduces inflammation.
Schisandra is a fruit-bearing vine. Research has found it to cleanse the liver3, improve stamina, regulate stress, and increase concentration. But its newfound popularity with Westerners has more to do with its beauty benefits than anything else: One study found that schisandra berry extracts, at the molecular level, target two chemical processes linked to skin healthy aging4: collagen XVII and ladinin-1.
Also known as arctic root or golden root, this perennial flowering plant is known to help manage stress, fight fatigue, and more. Thanks to its high concentration of antioxidant polyphenols and proanthocyanidins5, this adaptogen provides added oxidative protection, fighting off premature aging. Rhodiola rosea also stimulates the skin6, supporting circulation and cell turnover.
Considered polyherbal medicine, meaning it consists of several different medicinal herbs, triphala is an herbal concoction featuring three fruits, all native to India: bibhitaki, amalaki, and haritaki. The adaptogen is known for its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. It's also considered a skin protectant, with research finding7 triphala to have a protective effect on the epidermis and on dermal fibroblasts (cells within the dermal layer of the skin that help it recover from injury). It's even capable of increasing collagen production.
Also known as Peruvian ginseng, maca is native to South America in the high Andes mountains of Peru. Along with its ability to calm the mind, boost stamina, and increase sex drive, this adaptogen is also a beauty powerhouse. It's a proven hormone regulator8, making it great for reducing monthly breakouts. It can also boost collagen production thanks to its healthy dose of vitamin C and may help protect the skin from UV rays9 and prevent the formation of sunburn cells10.
A tree that grows in India, the Middle East, and some Southeast Asian countries, the fruit of the Indian gooseberry (also known as amla) has been used in ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years. Gooseberries promote liver health, reduce cholesterol levels, decrease inflammation11, and more. One study12 found Indian gooseberry extract capable of increasing production of collagen, while another study13 concluded the adaptogen helped speed up wound healing.
Shilajit is unique in that, while it's classified as an adaptogen, it's not technically an "herb" but a mineral-rich substance formed by the compression of organic material between layers of rock over hundreds of thousands of years. It's often used in powder form and frequently added to drinks, teas, or elixirs. This adaptogen has over 85 minerals and has been found to reduce the effects of chronic fatigue syndrome, iron-deficiency anemia, high altitude sickness, and more. It's also rich in the hard-to-get nutrient fulvic acid, which reduces inflammation and may protect against free radicals14 and cellular damage, in turn slowing the aging process.
Alexa Erickson is a California-based writer who specializes in travel, beauty, wellness, and lifestyle. She received a degree in journalism and creative writing from the University of Tampa, and her work has appeared in Reader's Digest, Shape, and more. She has spent the past decade researching and writing about the latest trends and scientific findings related to health and wellness, trotting the globe to review airlines and hotels while featuring cultures around the world.