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Q: What Are the Best Ingredients for Calming Stressed Out Skin?

16 Jan 2020

With a love for cosmetics from a young age, my curiosity knew that there was much more to the goop inside the jar than meets the eye. I graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Analytical Chemistry and moved to California to chase my dreams of becoming a cosmetic chemist, passionate about developing results-driven skincare. Now, I am the Product Innovation Manager for Youth to the People. My primary experience is in research and development, with a focus on both sustainability and the formulation of skincare, bringing natural ingredients to the forefront of the cosmetics market. I’m here to answer all your skincare questions. 

Question: What are the best ingredients for calming stressed out skin?

Answer: When conducting research on the symptoms of stressed-out skin, formulators tend to focus on the appearance of stress. Symptomatically, stress can look like redness, dullness, fatigue, or uneven tone, but stress can also manifest as feelings of sensitivity and irritation. Sensitivity can happen due to myriad reasons, such as environmental stress, or using highly active cosmeceuticals, like retinoids or vitamin C. Regardless of the reasons why your skin is stressed, it’s important to find out what can help skin destress, and there are a lot of amazing ingredients for this.

One of my favorite ingredients for calming and comforting stressed skin is pentapeptide-59, as found in the Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream. This peptide is a large chain of amino acids that binds to specific receptors in the skin’s barrier and functions as stop-gates to the cascade of signals that induce stress. What is so key to this amazing peptide is its ability to not only stop signs of stress in its tracks, but when used consistently over time, it allows the skin to become more resilient to stress. This means that the things that would typically cause stress on your skin, such as sensitivity from extremely dry or dehydrated conditions, or redness induced from using potent actives, are lowered over time. 

Frequently, ingredients are formulated to suppress the reactivity associated with stress. These are just as effective at mitigating symptoms, such as redness or inflammation, but they may only be short term and immediate. Still, for instant comfort, look for ingredients such as bisabolol, allantoin, and vitamin E in creams and serums for instant comfort. 

The most important and easiest way to keep skin calm is to keep skin hydrated. Just like our bodies need eight glasses of water a day, our skin also needs topical hydration. It often relies on the humidity of the outside air to stay hydrated, but in times of dehydration, our skin will naturally lose water to the air. It’s important not only to have hydrating ingredients in your skincare routine, but also to have ingredients that help retain water over time. It takes a significant amount of water to keep skin’s barrier functioning normally, so opting for ingredients like high-molecular weight hyaluronic acid, betaine, and glycerin help to bring water from the outside air towards the surface of the skin.  

Reishi mushroom
Also important: ingredients that also retain water through periods of dehydration. Reishi mushroom extract is great for this because of its high beta-glucan content. Beta-glucans are polysaccharide structures from reishi mushrooms that can retain water, acting like little reservoirs for deep hydration. Beta-glucans prevent transepidermal water loss (or TEWL), a natural phenomenon that causes dehydration when skin is lacking moisture. When hydrators are combined with effective moisturizers, like shea butter and vitamin E, as found in the Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream, skin is far less reactive, meaning skin is far less stressed, and much more calm.

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