Adaptogens, aka super-herbs and super-mushrooms, are known to alleviate mental, physical and emotional stress; nourish the skin, and even slow down aging. Used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries, they have only recently made an appearance in beauty products, first by way of ingestibles; more recently in skin care and makeup. Like the term suggests, adaptogens adapt to what the body needs, regulating its responses and normalizing the adrenal system, which produces a variety of hormones. Adaptogens are said to have their own unique personalities: some are stimulating, while others are calming. Here, Beauty Insider presents some of the most common adaptogens, and the products in which they play a starring role.
Ashwagandha is said to be one of the most powerful healing herbs used to treat stress, anxiety and exhaustion, as well as stress-related acne flareups. This adaptogenic herb is also commonly used in Ayurvedic medicine. It contains an abundance of antioxidants, iron, and amino acids, and calms the adrenal glands. Ashwagandha is seen in Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream, which contains a proprietary adaptogen blend of ashwagandha, rhodiola, reishi mushroom and holy basil to calm the skin when faced with daily stressors such as UV rays and environmental pollutants.
Also known as ‘the mushroom of immortality’, reishi mushroom comes in several different types, the most potent of which is red reishi which is noted for its immune-boosting properties. Reishi is also known for its soothing benefits. Reishi is being used in Moon Juice Beauty Shroom Plumping Jelly Serum, an intensive adaptogenic serum that aims to smoothe, lift and plump skin. Nutrient-dense reishi mushroom works with silver ear mushroom (also an adaptogen), and hyaluronic acid, to help enhance skin elasticity, and reduce the signs of inflammation. Moon Juice offers a whole category of adaptogen products, consisting of about 30 items. Reishi is also seen in Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, which is powered with antioxidant-rich reishi mushroom and iris root extracts to strengthen skin and defend against daily damage.
With its high concentration of antioxidants, chaga mushroom improves skin elasticity and delays the signs of aging. It also keeps skin nourished and moisturized. Chaga mushroom is a key ingredient in Cocokind Collective Highlighters, mushroom-charged highlighters that can be used on cheeks, the brow bone, eyelids and all over the body. Beyond luminous tones, these highlighters aim to deliver various skin care benefits. For example, Chagaglow Chaga Bronze is formulated to nourish skin and help combat oxidative stress. Sunrei Reishi Gold contains reishi mushroom that looks to fight against free radical damage. Mai-light Maitake Rosé aims to hydrate skin and helps combat inflammation.
Arctic Root (Rhodiola)
Also known as golden root, Arctic root is used to increase energy, endurance, strength and mental capacity, and minimize skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis. Some research even points to arctic root’s ability to promote collagen and elastin production. Arctic Root is an ingredient seen in Själ Mineral Källa Energy Tonic, a mineral-rich tonic that helps hydrate and lock in moisture, and boost skin metabolism by way of arctic root, ginseng and maran root.
Indigenous to India, holy basil (or tulsi) is believed to be ‘the plant of enlightenment’, with highly antibacterial and antioxidant properties. Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion includes holy basil, in addition to reishi mushroom, sea buckthorn and fermented chaga to reduce redness and restore skin resilience.
Ginseng, & Siberian Ginseng
Ginseng is a stimulating adaptogen that encourages the skin to heal itself. Ginseng also strengthens the immune system. Siberian ginseng (eleuthero) is another powerful adaptogen with many wellness-boosting properties. Red ginseng boosts energy levels. Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Serum uses white ginseng to help bring out a translucent, youthful glow.
Licorice root is an anti-inflammatory that slows down the breakdown of cortisone (used to treat or prevent allergic reactions) and is a natural option for sensitive skin. Licorice root also helps diminish the appearance of dark under-eye circles, discoloration and age spots. Licorice root can be found in emerginC Lighten-Up Under-Eye Circle Fighter, which is also formulated with aloe, tripeptides, chamomile and green tea to nourish and brighten delicate dark, under-eye pigmentation.
Moringa helps increase hydration, cellular growth and skin repair. It is also a mainstay in South Asian cuisine. Rita Hazan True Color Shampoo contains moringa seed extract to protect hair from damage, dryness and color fading.
Deriving from a native Peruvian plant, this star adaptogen also pops up regularly in smoothie recipes. Maca root helps relieve tension and anxiety while boosting energy.
The Body Shop for Men Maca Root is specifically designed with men in mind, from the energetic face protection to the shave cream and razor relief.
Turmeric is an anti-inflammatory spice that helps relieve redness and calm sensitive skin. It has also long been used in Ayurvedic medicine. Kora Organics Turmeric Brightening and Exfoliating Mask is formulated to revitalize, brighten and promote skin cell renewal. It contains certified organic turmeric, papaya enzymes, aspen bark, peppermint, and rosehip seeds that detox pores, and refine texture.