What Is Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha is not an ingredient you may associate with skincare. If you have heard of ashwagandha you most likely have heard of it in the context of ayurvedic practices or as a herbal supplement, probably not as a skincare ingredient. However, as the interest and respect for traditional medicinal practices has grown over the last few decades, ingredients like ashwagandha are coming into the beauty industry.
Ashwagandha is a commonly used adaptogen in Ayurvedic practices or traditional indian medicine. An adaptogen is a herb that may help to support immune health. Ashwagandha has actually been the focus of research into anxiety treatments, showing promising results.
In the context of skincare, ashwagandha hasn’t undergone the rigorous scientific research that would be needed to determine its potential benefits to the skin, when applied topically. However, smaller studies have indicated that it may help to improve the appearance of aging skin and visibly even out the skin’s texture and tone.
Ashwagandha comes from the plant Withania somnifera, also known as Indian Ginseng. It is a small shrub with light yellow flowers, native to India and North Africa. The root is the main part of the plant that is used and considered to be beneficial however, in ayurvedic practices the whole plant is often used.
the good: Ashwagandha may help reduce the signs of ageing and improve the overall appearance of the skin.
the not so good:There has been little research into the potential benefits of ashwagandha to the skin, so it is hard to determine is efficacy and safety.
Who is it for? All skin types except those that have an identified allergy to it.
Synergetic ingredients: Works well with most ingredients
Keep an eye on:Keep an eye out for more research.
What Are The Benefits Of Ashwagandha?
Ashwagandha may have benefits to stressed skin types. Stress affects your skin in many ways including fine lines, dull skin and even breakouts. Soems studies have suggested that ashwagandha may help to reduce the effects of stress on the skin. Most of these studies have looked at the effects of ashwagandha when taken as a dietary supplement, few have looked at this benefit in a topical context.
It is thought that ashwagandha may help to protect the skin from stress hormones such as cortisol. These studies also looked at the effect of ashwagandha on DHEA which is a precursor to testosterone and oestrogen which may help to even out the production of the skin’s natural oils. This may also be beneficial for congested skin types.
Ashwagandha has mild antimicrobial benefits and may also be soothing to the skin. This has benefits to congested or acne prone skin types. Soothing irritated or angry skin can be helpful to calming down acne affected skin, reducing the redness and acting as a circuit breaker for inflammation.
The science seems to suggest that ashwagandha’s link with acne is unclear. However, it does suggest that it may be beneficial when used in conjunction with acne-treatement products such as acids.
Is Ashwagandha Vegan?
Ashwagandha is a vegan ingredient as it is naturally-derived without the use of animal or animal byproduct ingredients.
If you are looking for a vegan product, always check the other ingredients in the product and ensure that the company doesn’t test their products on animals.
Is Ashwagandha Safe?
This is often a tricky question when looking at the safety of naturally-derived ingredients. Unfortunately, most naturally-derived ingredients have not been well researched for safety and efficacy.
Like many plant-derived ingredients, ashwagandha is a complex ingredient that consists of a number of components, it is not just one ingredient. Ashwagandha has a number of biologically active compounds such as sopelletierine, anaferine, cuseohygrine, anahygrine, withanolides, withaferins and saponins. This doesn’t include the non-active plant compounds that are present in ashwagandha. This complexity can make its safety tricky to determine.
For the most part, ashwagandha is considered to be safe when used in low concentrations in skincare, however this has not been evaluated by any organization tasked with reviewing skincare and ingredient safety, like the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel.
Singh N, Bhalla M, de Jager P, Gilca M. An overview on ashwagandha: a Rasayana (rejuvenator) of Ayurveda. Afr J Tradit Complement Altern Med. 2011;8(5 Suppl):208-213.
Chandrasekhar K, Kapoor J, Anishetty S. A prospective, randomized double-blind, placebo-controlled study of safety and efficacy of a high-concentration full-spectrum extract of ashwagandha root in reducing stress and anxiety in adults. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):255-262.