Ayurveda-based beauty brands have been on our radar for a while now thanks to their natural and potent ingredients. One of which is perhaps responsible for all those lovely antioxidant and brightening properties: amla extract. Amla extract (aka Indian Gooseberry) has long been revered by dermatologists and skincare experts as a superfood that can contribute to a glowing complexion through both skincare and incorporating it into your diet.
Although amla extract has been used in powders, teas, juices, and oils for thousands of years, it’s commonly found on the shelves of your favorite nutrition and beauty shops. Once you start reading the ingredients list of your moisturizers, facial sprays, serums, and vitamin and protein powders, you'll find it's actually quite common.
To learn more, we talked to Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a board-certified dermatologist and co-founder of Atolla, and Dr. Sheila Farhang, a board-certified dermatologist, and owner of Avant Dermatology & Aesthetics, as well as other skincare and nutrition experts, to learn more about amla extract. Below, find everything you need to know.
Type of ingredient: Antioxidant
Main benefits: Hydrates and protects the skin
Who should use it: All skin types
How often can you use it: Safe for everyday use
Works well with: Moisturizers and serums
Don’t use it with: Products that should not be combined with Vitamin C, including Retinol and AHAs
What Is Amla Extract?
Amla is an extract from Indian Gooseberry (Phyllanthus emblica), which is a highly regarded medicinal Ayurveda plant. “Amla is known to have strong antioxidant properties since it is rich in ascorbic acid—which we tend to recognize as vitamin C,” says Samar Kullab, a Chicago-based registered dietitian, whose viral Tik-Tok nutrition videos educate an audience of nearly 270k followers. “It’s probably one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods. It has 50 times more antioxidants than blueberries.”
According to board-certified dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, amla extracts can be beneficial for most skin types. Since amla is high in vitamin C, skincare products containing this superfood ingredient can prevent sun damage. “Amla’s potent antioxidants address the free radicals created from environmental stresses like pollution and UV rays,” she explains further.
“Amla extract can be taken orally or used in skincare products,” says Dr. Farhang. “This ingredient also has anti-inflammatory properties and has been used in herbs and botanicals for centuries.”
Benefits of Amla Extract for the Skin
Amla extracts can have some of the following benefits:
Brightens skins: Studies have shown amla extract can help stimulate pro-collagen (a precursor to collagen) when applied to the skin. Dr. Farhang adds, this is why it is beneficial for strengthening the skin.”
Helps hyperpigmentation: According to Dr. Ranella, skincare products that contain amla extract can help fade hyperpigmentation thanks to the way amla extracts in skincare help promote cell turnover. A study that investigated which natural ingredients were best for anti-aging suggested that the potent amounts of vitamin C, antioxidants and amino acids in amla extracts encouraged the production of collagen.
Fights signs of aging: Amla extract may help fight signs of aging, including fine lines, wrinkles, and discoloration.
Protects skin’s barrier: The antioxidants in amla extract helps protect your skin against environmental pollutants, dirt, UV rays, and more.
Hydrates skin: Those with dry skin types might find moisturizers and serums containing amla to help ease dry, flakey skin.
Amla Extract Vs Vitamin C
Amla extract's benefits are frequently compared to those of vitamin C—this is because there are potent amounts of vitamin C in amla extract. “It’s probably one of the highest antioxidant-rich foods,” says Samar Kullab. “It has 50 times more antioxidants than blueberries.” There are many similarities between amla extract and Vitamin C (they’re both rich in polyphenols and antioxidants that fight off free radicals and brighten skin) but there aren’t any specific studies that cite amla extract as being superior than vitamin C.
Fans of vitamin C (whether in oils or skincare products) may want to consider carefully experimenting with products containing amla extract since they target similar skin concerns. Remember to always check with your dermatologist before making any drastic changes to your skincare routine.
Side Effects to Amla Extract
Combining skincare products can sometimes lead to skin irritations. Instead of combining amla extract with AHAs or retinols, consider using an amla extract moisturizer in the morning and your favorite retinol serum at night.
When it comes to adding amla extracts to your green smoothie or recipes, Samar Kullab recommends limiting your doses to 1000 mg a day on a short-term basis and to consult with a doctor before adding to your foods in the form of powders, teas or oils. “Taking high amounts of the amla for a long period of time may lead to liver damage, she explained. “If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, I would advise not to take this as medicine since there isn’t enough reliable information to know if this is completely safe. People with bleeding disorders, diabetes, or liver disease should use the ingredient with caution as well.”
How to Use It
In addition to using this product as a facial oil, serum, mask, or lotion, amla extract can be effective when integrated into your daily diet. “Amla can be eaten, juiced, added as a powder to foods or smoothies, and it can be taken in supplement pill form as well,” explains Paul Schulik, a master herbalist, product formulator with over 40 years in the beauty and skincare industry and co-founder of For The Biome. “Amla extracts have long been revered in Ayurveda and has many rejuvenating qualities for both internal and external use. Amla is one of these ingredients and can be paired with other supportive ingredients in both diet and skincare.”
The Best Products with Amla Extract
This moisturizing cream is sulfate-free, paraben-free, and chock full of hydrating ingredients, including amla extract. In addition to amla extract, this cream contains castor oil and shea butter, which helps in improving your skin’s elasticity as well as treat and prevent stretch marks.
This facial serum (composed of nourishing extracts, including amla, rosehip oil, and brahmi) helps boost your skin’s elasticity and collagen. In addition to fighting aging and dullness, layering this serum with your favorite skincare products can help combat blemishes.
This lightweight powder (which is certified-organic and designed for all skin types) transforms into an exfoliating cleanser or clarifying mask when mixed with warm water. Packed with ingredients like amla, aloe vera, chamomile, turmeric, and marigold, this dual product works to improve elasticity, discoloration, and textured skin.
Moon Juice’s Beauty Dust contains a blend of superfood ingredients like amla, Ashwagandha, and Goji that help alleviate skin blemishes, stress, and more. Pair with your favorite smoothies, teas, and fruit-infused waters.
This lightweight moisturizer boasts ingredients full of hydrating ingredients, like amla berry extract and shea butter that help protect your skin from UV rays, toxins, and pollution while keeping your skin hydrated and replenished.
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