In 2019, CBD has been discussed more than spiked seltzer, Lana del Rey’s new album, and all the 2020 Democratic Presidential nominees combined. So if you’ve had your fill of cannabis skincare content, we understand. The modern CBD craze can be fatiguing, and in some cases, a little scary. The ingredient, which promises to have miraculous inflammation-fighting benefits, is so unregulated that if it’s not USDA Organic certified and full panel lab-tested, odds are your CBD is coming from hemp fields in China that are contaminated with toxins like lead, arsenic, herbicides, pesticides, and BPA. (You can read all about a massive test recently conducted on what’s really in your CBD products, though be forewarned, it’s chilling.)
There’s a lot to be said for the anti-inflammatory properties found in high-quality CBD (SeraLabs is one brand we really trust, FYI). And we're all for it. "It is critical to avoid and reduce inflammation, both for aging and for acne," says Dr. Barbara Sturm, who names fighting inflammation as the single most important thing you can do for your skin. But CBD is not the only skincare ingredient that helps with inflammation.
Skin inflammation (a response to injury or irritation) could manifest in a number of ways: rosacea, UV damage (think: dark spots, redness, or messed-up collagen and elastin), breakouts, itching, or swelling. If you’re dealing with any of these issues—and don’t want to mess with CBD—there are fortunately so many other plant-based ingredients that aren’t getting as much airplay right now but that skincare experts highly recommend. Read on for 13 products rich with antioxidants, adaptogens, and other ingredients that will soothe what inflames you in no time.
Omega-3s and -6s are magical ingredients for restoring moisture, healing the skin’s barrier, and reducing inflammation. Blend them with multi-tasking antioxidants, and you basically have a perfect serum. Skinvolve’s mesmerizing red elixir (which is non-toxic and plant-based) uses a blend of sea buckthorn, Mediterranean borage, and superfruit actives—all rich in these miracle-working omegas and antioxidants.
We know arnica helps heal bruising, but you can put it on your face to soothe inflammation (and clear bacteria), as well. Eminence makes tons of incredible anti-inflammatory products—in addition to arnica, this powerhouse mask contains lactic acid; shea butter; vitamins A, C, E; and coenzyme Q10 to defend against the free radicals that form on your skin when exposed to UV and pollutants. This all makes it especially well suited to sensitive skin types dealing with environmental damage and rosacea. The product is also non-toxic, organic, vegan, and cruelty-free.
According to Dr. Howard Sobel, a NYC board-certified dermatologist and founder of Sobel Skin, antioxidants like vitamin C work well to neutralize free radicals because the fruits from which they derive have evolved to withstand insane amounts of sun exposure. “Many antioxidants are multi-taskers,” he adds. “They provide anti-inflammatory benefits, boost cell repair, and even boosts your skin’s natural antioxidant defense.”
So it’s important to have a high-quality antioxidant serum in your anti-inflammatory routine. One of the best on the market is Joanna Vargas’s concentrated Rescue Serum, which works so quickly to even your skin tone and bestow that sought-after glow that it’s possible to see results in a matter of hours.
Adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms, like ashwagandha and reishi, are seriously underrated when it comes to plant-based anti-inflammatory ingredients. Youth to the People’s adaptogen-rich moisturizer is a personal favorite for soothing dry, sensitive, irritated skin, especially after spending time in the sun.
Inflammation is the first thing on Dr. Barabara Sturm’s mind when formulating skincare products, so her potent anti-aging serum does not play around. Highly active antioxidants in the form of purslane extract and glutathione combine with hydrating hyaluronic acid to make a skin-repairing concoction that will visibly reduce irritation and boost radiance.
If you’re a toner-user dealing with inflammation, toss the harsh astringents and try Renée Rouleau’s moisturizing formula. The product contains those omega-3s, -6s, and -9s we love for calming signs of rosacea and irritation. The liquid leaves behind a silky (though not greasy) trace of hydrating on the skin, so you don’t feel dry or tight after use.
Another super calming, all-natural and plant-based serum comes from Primally Pure, whose formula uses antioxidant-loaded pumpkin seed oil and adaptogens to soothe irritated skin. Other healing nutrients like pomegranate seed oil, primrose oil, olive squalene, gotu kola, yarrow, and tamanu oil complete the powerhouse cocktail of ingredients.
Dealing with acne-related inflammation? Try Sunday Riley’s delicious-smelling, quick-drying, medicated dry oil, which was specifically formulated for sensitive skin types managing breakouts. The product contains 1.5 percent salicylic acid, an anti-inflammatory ingredient that helps heal red, inflamed blemishes without causing further irritation.
Turmeric contains a type of polyphenol (a super strong antioxidant) called curcumin, whose anti-inflammatory properties work wonders on skin conditions from acne to eczema. All-natural Hawaiian brand Mahalo makes a stunningly packaged multi-tasking balm packed with turmeric, giving it that golden hue. The silky product contains other plant-based goodies like acne-controlling macadamia and tamanu, eczema-soothing neem, and scar-healing rosehip, and more.
Ginger is another antioxidant-rich plant that inhibits the synthesis of inflammation-causing chemicals in the body. If you want an instant hit of soothing goodness on your face, spritz this appropriately named Chill Mist, which contains ginger, vitamin D (to fight free radical damage), and probiotic-packed kombucha.
This powerful green potion comes from beauty editor-beloved brand Skinceuticals. The gel serum contains hyaluronic acid and a ton of soothing, antioxidant-rich extracts from fruits and herbs to correct redness, acne, hyperpigmentation, and environmental damage.
We just had to include another pick from Eminence’s impressive roster of anti-inflammatory products. This orange serum contains calming willow bark, antioxidant-laden anise, and antibacterial tea tree, which work together to heal inflamed skin and breakouts the gentle, chemical-free way.
Another quick way to mist inflammation away, this travel-friendly toner contains rosewater, which not only smells luxurious, but also has anti-inflammatory properties. Of course, there are a million rosewater sprays on the market, but this cruelty-free one uses just distilled water and high-quality rose oil, making it our simple, all-naturally rosewater of choice.
Next up: Don’t miss 8 beauty brands you’ll see on every Scandi girl’s shelf.