“Are you stressed?”
Ask any city-dweller and you’ll probably get the same answer: a resounding "yes." From hectic 9-to-5s to intense air pollution, it’s no wonder stress is such a significant part of the metropolitan experience.
Stress isn’t inherently bad. It’s an important part of our fight-or-flight response, which kept our ancestors alive in the face of hungry tigers. Though that specific scenario hasn’t been relevant for thousands of years, low doses of stress can still be helpful in our everyday lives, from motivating us to complete tasks, to keeping us safe when we cross a busy road.
When we’re stressed, our adrenal glands produce cortisol, a hormone that regulates our sleep cycle and nutritional intake. In small doses, this can boost our energy and keep illness at bay. However, when those small doses of cortisol aggregate into chronic stress in the long term, it can have devastating consequences for our bodies.
High cortisol levels over a long period of time cause the body to overproduce free radicals, which can lead to oxidative stress and a myriad of health problems, such as high blood pressure and heart disease; a weakened immune system due to lower white blood cell count; and conditions like infection, inflammation, and swollen lymph nodes.
In fact, our skin is particularly vulnerable to high levels of stress. Skin is our body’s first line of defense, and facial skin—which protects key organs like the eyes and the brain—is crucial for our immune response.
85% of the population have experienced acne or eczema flare-ups caused by stress, and itchy rashes known as hives are also common in high-stress, pollution-heavy cities. While minor, these skin diseases can cause bigger health problems down the line and even heighten our stress levels.
Although the best stress management methods always start at the root of the problem, it’s not always possible to shorten working hours or find time for a meditative spa day. That’s why we’ve decided to look into a different type of root: adaptogenic roots and herbs!
What is an adaptogen?
Adaptogens are herbal remedies that adjust and regulate the body’s response to stress. They imitate stress in the body, activating and balancing signaling pathways to cope with higher stress levels.
Increasing stress may sound counterproductive for reducing stress, but adaptogenic herbs can actually enhance the body’s stability against physical and psychological strain.
Adaptogens have withstood the test of time: these herbs are used widely in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and indigenous practices, and Western medicine is beginning to discover their benefits, too.
How to incorporate adaptogenic herbs into your skincare routine
The best way to combat skin stress is to enhance your skin’s natural barriers and restore inner balance. Clean, vegan skincare is all about keeping it natural, making it perfect for adaptogenic additions.
Here are a few of our favorite adaptogens for an effective, stress-reducing skincare routine.
Hydro-Rescue Repairing Night Mask (HK$820)
The snow mushroom is a skin-stress superhero: it neutralizes free radicals, increases skin elasticity, and hydrates and brightens aging skin. Snow mushroom has also been shown to have neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects, which means it can boost neuron growth and slow brain cell death!
Miracle Glow Facial Oil (HK$820)
Ginger is an antioxidant, which means it also fights stress-induced free radicals. It’s well-known in alternative medicine for its mental health benefits in managing depression and anxiety.
Most importantly, ginger strengthens the adrenal glands and balances the production of cortisol, which helps to tackle our body’s stress response and management system. The Miracle Glow Facial Oil contains ginger oil for holistic self-care.
Antioxidant Hydrating Toning Essence (HK$480)
An adaptogen well-known for its therapeutic properties, the licorice root extract helps to repair the adrenal gland and regulate cortisol production levels. According to TCM practitioners, moderate use can cool heat in the body and cleanse Qi for a full-body restoration.
Licorice root extract is also a great anti-inflammatory that boosts energy from the inside out! It’s the perfect addition to your stress-busting regimen through the Antioxidant Hydrating Toning Essence and Advanced Hyaluronic Serum.
Want to get hands-on with your anti-stress skincare routine? Check out our newest jade roller and gua sha tools for a relaxing, regenerative spa day—or, take some of the stress off our planet with our eco-friendly bamboo cotton pads.
Written by Fion Tse