Picture the harshest climates in the world, where extreme cold and excess heat defile everything in their paths. Somewhat surprisingly, plants are still able to grow (and even thrive) in these places. Take the resurrection plant, for example, which is a desert species that can look dead, but bounce back when watered. Or maral root, which survives in at alpine elevations where even trees can’t grow.
These superhero plants are called bio-adaptive botanicals and they alter to their environments, depending on where they are. Good news: They’re coming to your beauty products, so that your skin can reap these incredible benefits like dealing with freezing winters or dry AF summers. “These are not new—if you think about it, these compounds have been known for a long time in Traditional Chinese Medicine for their health benefits,” says Anganel Davis, director of North America for Nu Skin. Some are even what you’ll hear called “adaptogens” in the wellness industry.
“Bio-adaptive botanicals, when put on the skin, can also help the skin withstand daily stress and what the environment places on the skin, like pollution,” says Davis. That’s adaptogens job too. “Adaptogens help the skin and body adapt to environmental stress,” says Barbara Close, herbalist and founder of Naturopathica. “When applied to the skin, they function like an antioxidant, soothing and repairing free radical damage.” So, they’re smart plans and they help your skin function better than it does on its own. “Adaptogens react as needed to self-regulate the skin and body,” says Close, who points to ginger root as one example that protects against free radicals and tightens the appearance of pores.
As far as using them in your routine goes, these botanicals can be found in serums to moisturizers and cleansers, and they give you the same benefits as your antioxidants and moisturizers do, essentially, but antioxidants and moisturizers that adjust and adapt to what your skin needs at any given moment. Shop them for your own skin-care routine, below.
Your skin won’t get thirsty, since this moisturizer’s blend of rhodiola, maral root, chaga mushroom, resurrection plant, and Siberian ginseng (whew) all work together to replenish your hydration levels. And they combat stress (since they all thrive in extreme climates). Plus, it’s got aloe vera and vitamin E for even more dewy moisture.
Close points out that the alpine rose grows at super high altitudes in the Swiss Alps, and it “contains polyphenols that help reinforce the skin barrier, improve cell vitality, and protect against free radicals,” she says. Mixed with redness-soothing tamanu seed oil and hydrating hyaluronic acid and your skin’s good to go.
Your complexion will actually stay calm if you slather on this moisturizer, which is spiked with turmeric root, which adapts to your skin’s stress levels. And it has green tea extract, a powerful antioxidant that’ll keep your skin nourished.
Moon Juice started out by using adaptogens in their smoothies and juices, but have ventured into skin care—for good reason. This uber-moisturizing, gel-textured serum uses silver ear mushroom and reishi to fight inflammation, and hyaluronic acid so your skin stays moisturized.
Origins Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion, $34
Calm angry skin with this other fungi-spiked lotion, which has reishi to sooth, fermented chaga to heal, and coprinus mushroom to help fight stress.
Oh, and here’s what to know about maintaining your skin barrier protection for a happy complexion. And this is why you might want to look into a micellar cleanser for truly clean—yet still hydrated—skin.
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