Adaptogens May Be the Key to Great Skin

Understanding what adaptogens are and how they work might just be the key to getting off on the right foot with your face this year and for years to come.

It’s a new year, which means you’re undoubtedly being bombarded with new information about new diets and new products and new practices and new treatments that are guaranteed to do (fill in literally any health-related blank here). But what if the key to all of this is something that’s not new? Something that’s actually pretty ancient? Something you may not have heard about yet, but definitely something that should be on your radar: adaptogens.

Easily one of the buzziest health terms around, adaptogens are also one of the least understood ingredients in self-care. But understanding what they are and how they work might just be the key to getting off on the right foot with your face this year and for years to come.

In a nutshell, adaptogens are natural, botanical extracts (mostly from herbs and mushrooms) that support the body’s resistance to anything it’s not supposed to be dealing with (think illness, toxins, etc. etc.). They also support your adrenals, the glands that manage your body’s hormonal response to stuff like stress, anxiety and fatigue. Put simply, adaptogens help the body counteract stuff like this and get back to a happy place by doing pretty much whatever the body needs them to do. They’re adaptable to your system’s needs, adapting around the problem, hence the name. They can stimulate the body to enhance stamina or mental clarity (maca or ginseng), offer anti-inflammatory benefits (turmeric), boost immunity (astragalus) and calm stressed-out adrenals (like reishi or ashwagandha), all depending on what your body needs support with.

Ok, so what does this all mean for your skin? Well, you know that anything funky going on internally will eventually show up on your face — it’s often the site of the first visible sign something is off beneath the surface. And when stress and illness flare up, and your adrenals and immune system respond by working overtime, your skin reflects that.

Sure, sometimes there’s nothing you can do about this stuff. (Anyone who takes the New York City subway can attest to an immediate cold after holding the pole for more than 10 seconds.) But whenever possible, it’s better to be proactive instead of reactive when it comes to the health of your body’s various systems, and adaptogens may just be the key.

Taken regularly, adaptogenic herbs can help the body regulate its response to stress which, as we’ve covered, is one of the major reasons for imbalances in the body. Stress = imbalance in the body + stressed-out systems = skin imbalance. Not a flawless equation, I know, but it does the job. When you introduce adaptogens into the equation, however, things chill out a bit and everything lives in harmony, making for peaceful skin.

Unexpected breakouts? Your cortisol levels are likely elevated as a result of stress, which can lead to oil production in overdrive, clogged pores and blemishes. Nip it in the bud before it gets out of control with ashwagandha, which can regulate problem-causing cortisol. Not only that, but it’s detoxifying, antibacterial and anti-inflammatory, all important factors to treating breakouts.

Super-dry skin? You guessed it: stress may be to blame here, too. When your skin is distracted by stress in the body, it shifts its focus to other things, letting important stuff like, you know, retaining water, fall by the wayside. Daily adaptogens can not only work to ensure system equilibrium, but certain ones like aloe and moringa are pretty much tailor-made to ensure skin gets all its vitamins and nutrients, and holds onto that ever-important water.

While certain adaptogens are may be better-suited for more targeted issues like the ones I just mentioned, overall, they’re not meant to be used as a treatment for a specific condition. Instead, their real purpose is to boost overall well-being by helping a little bit all over the place and keeping your body working in harmony.


This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

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Stress seems to be to blame for everything! If only there were a way to really tone it down.

Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

4 years ago

Have heard of adaptogens before but have never tried them, will have to though :) Thanks for the info!


Amelia Birrell
4 years ago

My son bought me some for Christmas, must admit seem to have a real positive effect on me , even avoided the dreaded flu which so many around me seem to have.

Jack smith
4 years ago

Everyone need a great skin..

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