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Breathe in, breathe out — what are adaptogens all about?

Adaptogenic plants help the body stave off stress. The good news is that they are also effective beyond food, health, and wellness. It just so happens they’re great for skin and hair too!

Published On: 02/22/21

All we want is great skin, less stress and peace on earth. Is that so much to ask?

For at least two of those things, we look to traditional remedies derived from ancient wisdom and the bounty of nature. These ingredients have been used for centuries, but today they are known as adaptogens.

Adaptogens crossed over from health and wellness circles to the realm of personal care. Their claim to fame: they help the body resist stress-induced damage and restore its regular functions.

It’s not the first time the kitchen pantry has spilled over into the beauty cabinet — we’ve seen the same with greens, superfoods, vitamins and proteins. Consumers are always looking for the latest food-based ingredient and they are always hungry for more.

Now, with the right technology, we can apply the benefits of popular adaptogens to skin and hair care.

What is an adaptogen, exactly?

Adaptogens improve the body’s ability to resist stress-induced damage and regulate its physiological functions. In the food and beverage industry, many adaptogen products claim to deliver a mental health boost to your morning beverage of choice — you may have seen them labelled on healthy teas, coffees, juices and supplements.

They also do a body good. Adaptogenic herbs, roots and mushrooms were used for centuries in traditional medicinal practices, such as Chinese medicine and Ayurveda. They’re making a comeback today, with a rising number of product launches across food and beverages, wellness, and beauty, claiming to fight stress with adaptogenic ingredients.

Stress and skin: What’s the link?

Stressed-out skin bears signs of fatigue. It develops more visible fine lines and wrinkles, and stress makes it more susceptible to further issues. The mechanics of this vary depending on the cause, which is why we need an arsenal of adaptogens to help correct specific issues in the skin or hair.

Adaptogenic plants have an uncanny ability to restore homeostasis — they return cells in our skin or hair to a state of optimal functioning. In other words, they help our bodies adapt to and recover from stress.

Be a skin and hair care hero

Consumers love hero ingredients — ones with stories, traditions and (of course) scientific studies backing them up. BASF has five solutions based on some of today’s most popular adaptogens.

Schisandra berry: Five flavors of awesome

Called “five-flavor berry” for its robust flavor profile, the Schisandra berry is used in traditional medicine as a remedy for colds and seasickness. Sqisandryl® was developed with an extract of Schisandra berry as a skin and hair care ingredient with adaptogenic qualities.

Skin is commonly damaged by oxidative stress, mechanical forces (such as aging) and pollutants. Sqisandryl helps skin adapt to all three while promoting the bond between epidermis and dermis, helping to maintain homeostasis, and aiding in control of inflammation.

A study of Sqisandryl showed a 20 percent improvement in skin elasticity, visible reduction of fine lines, and other benefits after a period of 28 days. It was also found to revitalize and control signs of aging in the hair.

Galanga: Sugar, spice and everything nice

You may recognize galanga from your favorite Thai curry, but it’s also used as a traditional remedy thought to have antibacterial, digestive and antispasmodic properties. In Japan, galanga incense is sometimes used to boost energy and overcome exhaustion and sadness.

Studies have shown its effectiveness against oxidative stress, which brings us to Hyalufix®, an extract of the antioxidant-rich galanga leaves. Hyalufix helps to promote radiance in the skin and combats wrinkles brought on by stress.

In a consumer study, Hyalufix users reported more radiant skin and smaller crow’s feet. It’s also a fair trade and sustainably sourced solution.

Moringa: Tree of life

The moringa oleifera tree has plenty of favorable qualities, from the nutritional benefits of its pods to the medicinal uses of its leaves and flowers. Moringa was traditionally used to purify water. Its seed oil was a component in cosmetic, medicinal and religious ointments in ancient times.

It’s so versatile that we actually made it into two products: Purisoft® for the skin and Puricare® for the hair. Purisoft helps protect skin from pollutants with an antiadhesion shield, helps to reduce oxidative stress and provides some detoxification for the skin to reveal a natural glow. Puricare aids in fighting off pollution-based stress from exhaust gas and UV while helping to strengthen the hair.

Testing of Purisoft demonstrated its ability to assist in rebalance skin microflora and fight induced inflammation, while Puricare tests showed reduced dust adhesion and notable visible results.

Chaga mushroom: An everyday pick-me-up

The chaga mushroom is another age-old remedy — one that tastes surprisingly like coffee. Since the 12th century, Eastern Europe and nearby countries have brewed it into a tonic herbal tea for stomach, heart, brain and liver support. It’s known as a potent anti-inflammatory and antioxidant.

Inolixir®, made from an extract of chaga, channels its adaptogenic qualities to improve skin barrier function and epidermal cohesion. In other words, it bolsters the skin’s defenses, upgrading its ability to resist the effects of stress.

That makes it excellent for sensitive skin. Clinical results for Inolixir showed a visible reduction in redness as early as one week. Consumers saw brighter, more beautiful skin with fewer dark circles and wrinkles.

Indian senna: Pure goodness

Cassia angustifolia, or senna, is an ayurvedic herb rich in polysaccharides. Its traditional uses include purifying the blood, relieving constipation and alleviating skin diseases — the shrub has shown anti-inflammatory and antibacterial benefits for skin.

That’s how we came up with Hyalurosooth®, which helps to provide dermal protection and hydration that minimizes the visual effects of stress in skin. It helps the skin recover some of the radiance it loses in times of stress.

Hyalurosmooth does this by reducing the amount of cortisol in skin, which can shoot up to higher levels in times of stress and have an adverse effect on the skin. Testing with the product showed a boost in skin hydration and radiance.

Adapt to new personal care trends

Mother Nature has the ingredients for skin-boosting, stress-busting products, and BASF has the recipe. If you need help formulating your own adaptogen-based products, we’re here to help. Contact BASF to explore your options.

Learn how to cook delicious recipes using the same adaptogens found in our ingredients! Click here to see these recipes.

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