Adaptogens: What to Know About This New Wellness Buzzword

Adaptogens: What to Know About This New Wellness Buzzword

Am I stressed? (Yes). Anxious? (Triple yes).

Is my skin showing it? (Also yes). Dull skin, dryness, acne, and tired, dark eyes are just some of the ways that my stress shows on my skin. Sometimes there’s not enough essences and serums to distract my skin from the daily stressors of living during COVID-19 and quarantining for a year now.

So I decided to take a little trip down the Google rabbit hole to see what new products the marketing gods have blessed us with, and I found out that adaptogens are a thing that the girlies are loving and using nowadays.

You may have seen this buzzword splashed across a sign outside your favorite L.A. cafe, or maybe on a bottle of *sparkling wellness juice* from your local Whole Foods, or a jar of cream from Violet Grey.

But just what are adaptogens? Is it just another trendy buzzword or do they actually do something? I set out to investigate. Keep scrolling for all the 411 on adaptogens.

You may have seen this buzzword splashed across a sign outside your favorite L.A. cafe. But just what are adaptogens? Do they actually do something?


Cool, So What Are Adaptogens Exactly?

Adaptogen sounds like a fancy, cool new scientific ingredient, but really the name is an umbrella term for any sort of botanical/herbal/natural extract that helps to regulate your stress levels. This can be stress levels internally (for me, that’s an upset stomach, racing heart, increased anxiety, muscle tension, headaches) or externally (all the skin issues I mentioned above).

When adaptogens are used in skincare, they are specifically added to formulations to help skin combat stress, fatigue, environmental stress like pollution and sun damage, inflammation, and of course, acne and breakouts. Basically, think of them as calming, relaxing ingredients that help out skin when it’s not feeling its best. Even better, adaptogens can help safeguard your skin against these stressors before they even happen! According to, “adaptogens help to neutralize free radicals, which alleviates stress on the skin, helping to defend against early signs of aging.”

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However, the jury is still out on how effective these extracts actually are on the skin. Dr. Ava Shamban, M.D., told, “It’s unclear if [adaptogens] do anything besides act as antioxidants,” adding that “the claims are vague.”


What Are Some Ingredients That Are Considered Adaptogens?

According to, the word “adaptogens” has been around since 1947, but the botanical ingredients that fall under this category have been used by different cultures around the world for centuries.

Some adaptogenic ingredients include ashwaganda, licorice root, aloe vera, royal jelly, ginseng, maca root, chaga, amla, and reishi mushroom.

trending skincare ingredient
Ginseng in Sulwhasoo’s ginseng cream. Facebook @us.sulwhasoo


Are Adaptogens Safe?

Generally speaking, adaptogens are safe to add to skincare and *shouldn’t* cause any sort of irritation, but like any natural product or skincare ingredient, there can be side effects. Make sure to patch test any new products you use LINK with a small amount of product behind your ear before moving forward to using it in your routine.


How Can I Incorporate Them into My Routine?

If you’re looking to de-stress your body and skin, it’s recommended that you ingest them, as well as use them in your skincare products. Drinking them is usually the easiest way to get in a daily dose, with brands like Moon Juice and Sun Potion whipping up adaptogenic powders that can be added to your tea or morning smoothie.

Facebook @moonjuiceshop

Some skincare products on my adaptogen radar include the Herbivore Emerald CBD + Adaptogens Deep Moisture Oil, my personal favorite face cream Youth to the People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream, Luxeriche sheet masks with licorice root, and the Moon Juice Plump Jelly Hyaluronic Serum formulated with reishi and silver ear mushrooms to help calm and hydrate the skin.


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