You’ve probably heard of adaptogens by now (especially if you live in LA — Moon Juice anyone?). You may even have adopted the habit of taking an adaptogenic supplement everyday, or sprinkling some extra powders into your turmeric latte to reap all the health benefits of these medicinal plants. But what you might not have heard of is their amazing skin-healing capabilities when it comes to skin. And if there’s one adaptogenic skincare superstar to single out, it’s ashwagandha. We chatted with Dr. Nancy Samolitis of Facile Dermatology + Boutique (aka Dr. Sam) all about what exactly adaptogens are and what they do, why ashwagandha is great for skin, and how you can incorporate this powerful ingredient into your skincare routine.
So what exactly are adaptogens? “The term ‘adaptogen’ refers to an extract — usually from an herb or a mushroom — that has been shown to modulate the body’s response to stress from the environment,” says Dr. Sam. And although they’ve experienced a trendy resurgence in the last few years, “these have been used for thousands of years as remedies for many medical ailments, including allergies, arthritis, diabetes, and even cancer,” she says. The reason they work so well for a variety of issues is because of their potent anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and stress-relieving properties. It’s well documented that stress and inflammation contribute to a whole host of imbalances. However, when ingested, adaptogens are shown to help the body return to homeostasis — aka a balanced state.
“This little shrub may seem unassuming, but when applied to the skin, it works wonders.”
There are thousands of different beneficial adaptogens (remember, these have been used medicinally for millenia!). But some adaptogens are especially good for taking care of your skin. Case in point: ashwagandha, an evergreen shrub that grows naturally in Africa and Asia. While this little shrub may seem unassuming, when applied to the skin, it works wonders. “ashwagandha helps immune cells in the skin adapt to environmental stressors like pollution, and has been proven in clinical studies to have effective biomodulation of immune cells, leading to decreased inflammation which is the root cause of many skin issues,” says Dr. Sam. “It has also been shown to increase collagen production.” All of that means calmer, smoother, plumper, and generally healthier skin.
So how can you incorporate this seemingly magical plant into your skincare routine? Dr. Sam recommends trying out a targeted serum like Facile Skincare’s Destress Serum if you have acne, rosacea, eczema, or sensitive skin — basically any skin issue that may result from inflammation in the body and the skin. Its calming effects will especially help relieve and heal those conditions, but it can also be a great addition to anyone’s routine (after all, everyone’s skin gets irritated from time to time!). In this increasingly stressed out world, we’re sold on anything that can help our skin get balanced again.