Adaptogens may be the biggest buzzword in skincare and wellbeing right now, but it’s something we’ve been very familiar with at Dermatology M for decades… and, what’s more, they’ve been an integral part of Chinese Herbal Medicine for centuries.Here, we shine a spotlight on these unique herbal extracts, detail the ones we use in our dermatologically designed formulas and reveal how they can help combat stressed-out skin.
What are adaptogens?Adaptogens are a unique group of natural, non-toxic herbal extracts. They have a long history of use in healing traditions and are believed to help the body better respond to and recover from stress. You’ll find them in teas, tonics, supplements and, of course more recently, skincare.
How do adaptogens help stressed skin?Stress is, quite simply, terrible for skin health. Whatever its cause, stress triggers the hormone cortisol, can impair skin barrier function, alter protein structures, increase oxidative stress and stimulate excess oil from the sebaceous glands. All of this can exacerbate acne, dry skin, psoriasis, eczema and premature skin ageing.
Think of adaptogens as smart super-herbs; they work to offset stress and its ensuing damage, deliver nutritive benefits, help restore skin balance and strengthen its healthy condition. As a result, they offer skin both preventative and protective qualities - a philosophy core to our Chinese Herbal Medicine ethos.
What adaptogens do Dermatology M use?A huge number of adaptogens exist. Through research, trial and test in line with the specific needs of those using Dermatology M, we have chosen to include the following ones in our formulas.
Cordyceps | Known as Dong Chong Xia Cao (meaning ‘Winter insect summer herb’) in Chinese Herbal Medicine, Cordyceps is a unique, very rare and highly prized (and priced!) fungus, found at altitudes above 4500m in the Himalayan region. Like other adaptogens, Cordyceps works to help the body in creating and maintaining balance during times of stress by influencing how our cells store and transfer energy while also enhancing oxygen utilisation. Its potent antioxidant qualities and anti-stress action make it a hero herbal active in our Soothing Psoriasis Shampoo.
Licorice Root | Called Gan Cao in Chinese Herbal Medicine and known as a balancing, Qi-harmonising herb, Licorice Root offers many important adaptogenic benefits. For skincare specifically, it’s value lies in its natural antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and age-defying properties. Studies have found it helps ease the itching, irritation, dryness and redness associated with atopic dermatitis, rosacea, eczema or psoriasis. What’s more, its built-in glabridin compounds super-charge UV-fighting protection to help lighten the appearance of hyperpigmentation, discolouration, sun spots and dark circles. It may come as no surprise to learn that we use Licorice Root in some of our biggest bestsellers: Honeysuckle Cleanser, Soothing Bath & Shower Oil, Brightening Mask and Nourishing Hand and Foot Cream.
Astragalus | Called Huang Qi in Chinese Herbal Medicine, this native plant is considered one of our practice’s most important herbs. This potent adaptogen and antioxidant is a renowned skin healter, boosting Qi and helping restore smooth, supple skin. We use an extract of its root, known for its soothing and strengthening properties, in Soothing Psoriasis Shampoo.
Ginseng | We refer to Ginseng as Ren Sheng and its long history of use in Chinese Herbal Medicine is around its profound mineralising benefits. It helps energise and brighten, reduce inflammation, boost hydration and protect the skin barrier while also metabolising dead skin cells. The extract we use again comes from the root and you’ll find it in Soothing Psoriasis Shampoo.
Scutellaria | The ‘golden herb’ in Chinese Herbal Medicine, thanks to its root’s distinctive yellow hue, Huang Qin offers powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, as well as being rich in flavonoids and bioactive elements. Soothing and brightening, it brightens while helping protect from free radical damage, making it ideal for Cleanse & Clear Mask, Rosacea Face Tincture, Softening Psoriasis Cream and Softening Psoriasis Night Ointment.
Aloe Vera | Renowned for its potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and healing properties, Aloe Vera is an incredible adaptogen. Rich in Vitamins A and C, it’s been used for centuries to heal minor wounds, soothe acne, replenish dryness and keep skin supple, smooth and plump. Find this super succulent in Skin Repair Face Cream, Eczema Cream, Unstable Psoriasis Cream, Softening Psoriasis Cream, Night Spot Cream, Spot Treatment Gel, Nourishing Cream, Ultra Rich Vitamin E 10%, Nourishing Hand and Foot Cream, Soothing Eczema Treatment and Replenishing Eczema Cream.