All about ashwagandha, the newest superhero in the skincare market

Did you know, your skin gets stressed, too? Your skin’s stress could be caused by external factors, such as pollution or sudden changes in the weather — when your skin pores burst open before the clouds do, or when it becomes dry and itchy in winter. Then there are internal factors — when you’re stressed, your skin gets stressed, too. “When your skin is stressed, you could end up with fine lines, wrinkles, sagging skin, blotchy skin, tired eyes, dark circles and puffy eyes,” elaborates Dr Jaishree Sharad, dermatologist and CEO, Skinfiniti Aesthetic Skin & Laser Clinic, Mumbai, and author, Skin Talks. “Stressed skin can also break out into hives or allergies very easily.”

“It’s called psychodermatology — the mind-skin connection,” Dr Sahana Kumar, a Bengaluru-based Ayurvedic dermatologist, further explains. “There is an apparent link between our emotional state, the body’s physiological response to our emotional state, and the outcome of this response on our skin, body, health and well-being.” The solution lies in, well, not getting overly stressed. Or, you could treat your skin (and even body) to adaptogens — botanical extracts (read herbs), which release stress by working with your adrenal glands to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, in the body. Ashwagandha or Indian ginseng, holy basil, ginseng, licorice and moringa or drumstick leaves, are all yesterday’s herbs that are today’s stress-busting ingredients.

Natural beauty Adaptogens help us deal with stress

Natural beauty Adaptogens help us deal with stress  

How do adaptogens work?

“These herbs are called adaptogens because they are said to adapt to the body and help us deal with stress or boost energy when low,” explains Dr Sharad. “They’ve been popular in India, Japan and parts of South-East Asia for centuries, and are said to balance blood sugars and improve immunity, although more scientific studies are needed.”

“Adaptogenic herbs maintain and restore balance, normalising your physiological response to prevent your body and mind from jumping into overdrive and becoming exhausted at every stressor,” adds Dr Kumar. “This protects your skin and body from the damage caused by hormones such as cortisol, which stress releases into your body.”

All about ashwagandha, the newest superhero in the skincare market

How to use an adaptogen

Empirical data on the efficacy of these herbs is still inadequate, but what we do know is, adaptogens are non-toxic and safe for topical application. “If you have a skin condition, topical application works very well, because of their anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties. But the best way to take adaptogens is internally,” says Dr Kumar. “Do make sure to check with your doctor before taking these as a supplement — in a capsule or tablet, or as a powder.” You can also have them as a tea, or in a smoothie as Jennifer Aniston does, although this may be contraindicated if you have any chronic diseases or are on medication for the heart or diabetes, or on blood thinners, or if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding.

Adaptogens to try

Ashwagandha (Indian Ginseng): A calming agent, ashwagandha is a popular ingredient in cleansers and shampoos. “It reduces the oil secretion in the skin, improves skin quality and reduces the chances of allergies and rashes,” says Dr Sharad. “It’s popular as a tea, but be cautious, as it’s a blood thinner.” Dr Kumar says it’s also a great antioxidant and helps build skin immunity.

Products: Roots & Herbs Ashwagandha Face Glow Kit, Ancient Living Organic Rejuvenative Face Pack, Omved Nagarmotha Skin Mask Pack

Holy basil: “It’s a very powerful antioxidant,” says Dr Sharad. Holy basil fights off the damage caused by free radicals, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and is very effective in a face pack or a toner.

Products: Juicy Chemistry Organic Tea Tree & Basil Hydrating Facial Toning Mist, Rustic Art Organic Neem Basil Face Wash/Rustic Art Organic Aloe Vera Neem Basil Gel, Ananda Gentle Cleansing Cream — Juniper and Holy Basil for Oily & Combination Skin

Licorice: “Licorice extract is obtained from the root of Glycyrrhia Glabra Linneva,” explains Dr Sharad. “Its main component, glabridin, has been shown to prevent skin pigmentation.” Also, “when taken internally, it helps stimulate and balance the adrenal glands, boost endurance,” says Dr Kumar. It also helps soothe gut issues, which makes licorice tea a great remedy for chronic acne.

Products: SoulTree Licorice Hair Repair Shampoo, Himalaya Men Power Glow Licorice Face Wash

Moringa (drumstick leaves): “Moringa is rich in antioxidants, and vitamins C and A,” says Dr Sharad. “It stimulates collagen production, reducing stress-induced wrinkles and fine lines and restores your skin’s radiance.”

Products: Tjori Antioxidant Green Tea and Moringa Hair Pack, Kerastase Elixir Ultime Oleo Complexe Immortal Moringa, Paul Penders Chamomile & Moringa Skin Toner

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Printable version | May 9, 2021 9:14:43 AM |

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