‘Nature’s apothecary’: Adaptogen promise rises in beauty amid COVID-19, says expert

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

Hand and skin care products incorporating adaptogens will uptrend as consumers look for natural alternatives to protect and heal (Getty Images)
Hand and skin care products incorporating adaptogens will uptrend as consumers look for natural alternatives to protect and heal (Getty Images)

Related tags: WGSN, adaptogens, wellness, Protection, anti-stress

There is a rising potential for stress-relieving adaptogens in beauty and personal care formulations as consumers seek out products that protect and heal – beyond traditional aesthetics, a beauty expert says.

Adaptogens – natural substances that enhance the body’s state of resistance to physical, chemical or biological stress and promote a state of wellbeing – are typically sourced from herbs, roots and mushrooms and have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic healing traditions for centuries. Examples include holy basil, ginseng, ashwagahndha, rhodiola and reishi, among a wealth of others.

And interest in these substances had accelerated fast in recent months, particularly in beauty as consumer concerns shifted during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, said Jenni Middleton, director of beauty at trend forecasting firm WGSN.

Beauty ‘beyond the aesthetic’ – adaptogens hold increased appeal

Middleton said beauty had started to incorporate adaptogens that also had natural antibacterial and antiviral properties, such as lemon balm and tea tree oil, as consumers sought protection from their beauty products and routines.

“As a result of the pandemic, beauty has found a new role beyond the aesthetic – and is finding a purpose as a protector, healer and soother. The products that we are searching for in our bathroom cabinets are doing more than making us look good, they are keeping us safe as we emerge out of lockdown stages around the world and keep us healthy and well,” ​Middleton told CosmeticsDesign-Europe.

And, the rise of adaptogens had already been touted a “big trend”​ by WGSN at the start of 2020 – it had now simply been accelerated during the coronavirus outbreak, she said.

“Adaptogens are going to be really important to consumers …Consumers have shunned animal-derived ingredients because of the zoonotic origins of the virus and have wanted to use tried and tested products from nature’s apothecary,” ​she said.

“Hand and skin care that can use these kinds of ingredients will uptrend as consumers look for natural alternatives to chemicals that might have damaged their skin.”

Middleton said reaching back to “time-honoured traditions”​ and creating “elevated”​ beauty and personal care products with immunity-boosting, antibacterial or antiviral adaptogens would be a strong move for brands and manufacturers moving forward.

Adaptogen beauty to ‘become a category of its own’

Sister site CosmeticsDesign-Asia recently covered a Cosmoprof Asia webinar presentation from Jayanne Jin, EVP of business development at beauty marketing intelligence firm Beautystreams, who also suggested adaptogens had a strong future in beauty​.

“Stress is one of the more virulent deterrence of a healthy immune system, making adaptogens one of the best agents to bolster immunity,”​ Jin said.

“This was a big trend in 2018 and will continue to become a category of its own,” ​he said.

Several brands had already dived into the adaptogen beauty, with many already present for some time. California-based Moon Juice, for example, defined itself as an adaptogenic beauty and wellbeing company, offering a range of creams and balms that incorporated ashwagahndha and reishi. Fellow California-based Youth to the People also offered a cream and activated mist using these two adaptogens.

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