In 2021, inflammation is rife. It’s coming at us from every angle —from pollution, processed sugar, stress and more – leading to generally unhappy skin that can manifest in a number of ways.
The word ‘inflammation’ covers a range of skin conditions we usually think of as separate. Sunburn and day-to-day UV damage, acne, skin infections, allergic rashes, eczema and psoriasis are all inflammatory conditions that come and go but over time, but can add up to skin being in a near-constant state of low-grade inflammation.
Ongoing inflammation shows up as persistent outbreaks of the above conditions, but also as ordinary long-term dryness, redness and sensitivity. What’s important to know is that long-term low-grade inflammation plays a key role in the skin losing structural resilience and developing lines, discolouration, and dull texture. The longer the inflammation goes on, the faster this process occurs.
There are many ways to defend against inflammation like quality sleep and hydration. You can also eat an anti-inflammatory diet, and make sure you are using anti-inflammatory compounds in your skincare products to prevent or treat skin flare-ups. We’ve rounded up some of the key ingredients to look for in your skincare formulas to help knock inflammation on the head.
This golden spice is by far one of the most well-known thanks to its dozens of anti-inflammatory compounds, including curcumin. To pacify skin that’s worked up with acne, dryness, or even eczema or psoriasis, you can look for skincare with turmeric in the ingredient deck, or even try a little DIY at home. Whip up your own soothing turmeric face mask by mixing 1 teaspoon turmeric powder with 3 tablespoons plain coconut yogurt. Leave that on for 20 minutes, then rinse and moisturise.
Whether in the form of chamomile flower or blue chamomile oil (also rich in azulene), this herbal ingredient is gentle enough for sensitive skin, which tends to be the most affected by inflammation. Bisabolol is an anti-irritant that naturally occurs in chamomile and gives it a healing quality, so hunt down products like Trilogy’s certified natural Very Gentle Calming Serum and Nuori’s Protect+ Cleansing Milk that come with chamomile firmly in the mix.
A cup of green tea is associated with relaxation and repair, and the herbal remedy can do the same for balancing the complexion. Green Tea owes its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to certain compounds it possesses called phenols. You literally can write a whole book on phenols, subgroups of phenols, their subgroups, and the individual compounds. That’s how rich green tea extract is. When applied to the skin, green tea soothes the skin, reduces redness, irritation, and swelling, making it one of the best anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients. You’ll find it in the aforementioned Very Gentle Calming Serum from Trilogy, as well as their ultra-soothing Very Gentle Cleansing Cream.
Oatmeal isn’t just a healthful breakfast option — as it turns out, it can also soothe your skin. It contains sugars that help fight inflammation and soothe red, irritated skin. And because oatmeal is such a gentle ingredient, it’s an ideal choice for people that struggle with skin sensitivity and want to incorporate more anti-inflammatory formulas into their skincare routine. Just like green tea, oatmeal is rich in phenols, which makes it a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient. It soothes the skin, calms inflammation, and eliminates redness, and you’ll find it in Alder New York’s lightweight Everyday Face Moisturiser.
Centella Asiatica, sometimes referred to as cica, is a widely known wound-healing agent. Centella asitacia is rich in madecassoide AKA asiatic acid, an anti-inflammatory skincare ingredient that not only reduces redness but also increases moisture in the skin. The swamp-dwelling herb first started appearing in South Korean cica creams a few years ago, which became cornerstones of the famous K-beauty ritual because of their alleged soothing benefits. And studies show that Centella asiatica isn’t just a passing fad—it’s also a rich source of amino acids, and a good hydrating ingredient to soothe upset or compromised skin. There’s even evidence that products with Centella asiatica can help revitalise skin’s protective barrier, plus it may mitigate some of the visible effects of sun damage.