What Are Adaptogens and How Do They Improve Your Skin?

Adaptogens have been used for centuries in holistic medicine, but it’s only been in recent years that they’ve become popular ingredients for skincare. Here's a closer look at why these herbs, plant extracts, and natural compounds are gaining favor with wellness and beauty experts.

Contributor: Dr. Ritu Chopra

When your adrenals are working overtime and pumping out the hormones that cause stress to appear on your skin as breakouts or dullness, you might be looking for natural ways to help your skin rebound and build resilience. Adaptogens could be the answer.

Today, you can find a variety of skincare products and nutritional supplements that feature adaptogens to help you manage and recover from inflammatory stress. Here’s a closer look at adaptogens and their potential skin benefits.


"Adaptogens include herbs, mushrooms, and natural plant extracts that can have positive effects by helping your body and skin ‘adapt’ to stress."
~ Dr. Ritu Chopra

Adaptogens have long been part of Ayurvedic medicine, ingested for overall health benefits. Today, many of these adaptogens are also being formulated into topical products to support skin’s natural resilience to stress. Ingredients like ashwagandha, reishi mushroom and ginseng, among others, are finding their way into clean beauty products and being coupled with dietary adaptogens to impart a calmer and healthier appearance to skin from the outside in as well as the inside out.

How Adaptogens Work for Our SkinNature works for skin

If your weekday routine includes high-stress days at work and compromised sleep, your body and mind may be experiencing undue stress. Many people don’t realize how stress can take its toll on the body and the skin — when the adrenal system is overworked, it triggers hormone responses that can lead to fatigue, breakouts, and a lackluster complexion. Adaptogens can combat some of this stress from the inside out.

Ingesting adaptogens can help to reduce inflammation in the body and restore digestive health. For example, ashwagandha can have a calming and soothing effect. Other adaptogens may be linked to delaying the signs of skin aging by reducing the effects of environmental stressors and toxins. Adaptogenic herbs like ginseng and aloe vera can also help regulate the body’s ability to manage stress and ward off skin imbalances.

Adaptogenic skincare ingredients are also being recognized as prebiotic nutrients to help keep your skin’s microbiome balanced. Formulations that contain stress-relieving adaptogens like ashwagandha, maca, and rosemary can be especially effective for maintaining a healthy, radiant complexion -- even when you’re stressed or have compromised on some shuteye.

Whether your biggest skin concerns are acne, rosacea, eczema, or the signs of aging, consider ways to incorporate adaptogens into your daily regimen. As part of an overall anti-inflammatory lifestyle, the benefits may be much more than skin deep.

Celebrated Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon Dr. Ritu Chopra is recognized as a top doctor and key opinion leader in the areas of both aesthetic and reconstructive medicine.

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