Though we've become comfortable with certain “mainstream” skincare ingredients (i.e. vitamin C or hyaluronic acid), others can still feel confusing and mysterious. You may not have heard of purslane extract, for example, despite its superpower properties.
Deriving from the succulent Portulaca oleracea, purslane extract provides serious antioxidant benefits. The effects it has on the skin—it can help heal wounds, calm irritated skin, and hydrate, and it has strong anti-aging properties—make it an ingredient that dermatologists say has many benefits. “It’s a real superfood sleeper,” says dermatologist Dr. Kristina Collins, MD, FAAD. “It’s loaded with more omega fatty acids than fish oil and more vitamins than our healthiest veggies. It has a great source of skin-beneficial minerals like potassium, magnesium, calcium, and phosphorus.”
So, what exactly is purslane extract? We asked dermatologists Dr. Rachael Nazarian, MD, FAAD, Dr. Marisa Garshick, MD, FAAD, and Collins to share what they know about this antioxidant, and what it can potentially do for the skin. Read on for what they had to say.
Type of ingredient: Antioxidant
Main benefits: Anti-aging, calms skin, reduces redness, helps skin retain moisture.
Who should use it: In general, purslane has a wide range of benefits and can be used by everyone, including those with sensitive skin.
How often can you use it: Purslane extract is safe to use up to twice a day, morning and night.
Works well with: Because purslane extract is considered gentle, soothing, and provides antioxidant benefits, it can be used with almost any product. Purslane extract works particularly well with other antioxidants such as vitamin C, niacinamide, and other hydrating ingredients.
Don’t use with: Purslane extract does not interact with other ingredients and generally can be used safely within all skincare routines.
What Is Purslane Extract?
Purslane extract is an extract of the purslane plant (a succulent) that is known to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-aging, and hydrating benefits. It is packed with vitamins and fatty acids including various dietary minerals, omega-3, omega-6 fatty acids, and ascorbic acid. It is included in many anti-aging and calming creams because of the benefits it brings to the skin—it works by calming the skin, boosting healing properties, and neutralizing free-radical damage from environmental stressors.
“The extract has been long used in traditional Eastern medicine for wounds, bites, and stings due to the anti-inflammatory properties,” says Collins. You’ll find purslane extract in a variety of products including topical creams and serums, most often in wound healing and anti-aging products because of its protective and anti-inflammatory characteristics. “It’s great for irritated, dry, or inflamed and injured skin,” says Nazarian. “It tackles many skincare concerns, mostly due to the wide variety of different components of the plant, both calming and protective in nature.”
Benefits of Purslane Extract for Skin
- Offers antioxidant protection: Purslane extract provides antioxidant benefits through vitamin C, vitamin E, glutathione, and beta-carotene, says Garshick.
- Has anti-inflammatory properties: The anti-inflammatory ingredients support skin cells, protect against free radical damage, and help renew structural components of the skin, according to Collins.
- Improves skin hydration: Garshick says the extract is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and can help hydrate the skin, which can be helpful to those who may be experiencing dryness.
- Offers additional anti-aging benefits: The activation of telomerase (known as the "fountain of youth enzyme") in purslane extract products means it has what Collins calls “extraordinary potential” as an anti-aging hero ingredient.
- Speeds up the healing of wounds: According to Garshick, purslane extract is also rich in vitamin A, which has known benefits for regulating skin cell turnover. As a result, it helps with wound healing and is thought to help repair cellular damage.
How To Use It
Purslane extract can be incorporated into nearly all skincare products, according to Garshick—from moisturizers and cleansers to creams and serums. It is important to follow the specific instructions of the product in use. For example, if the extract is found in a serum, it should be used after cleansing, but if it’s found in a moisturizer, it should be used after a serum.
The Best Products With Purslane Extract
Garshick recommends this lightweight, ultra-hydrating moisturizer. The Portulaca oleracea extract serves as an antioxidant and offers skin-soothing benefits. It also contains peptides and humectants, leaving the skin looking “healthy and refreshed." Signs of aging and damage appear reduced while the skin feels instantly rejuvenated with hydration that lasts.
Nazarian shares that the anti-pollution drops combine purslane with hyaluronic acid to “protect against daily aging and keep skin hydrated." These small but mighty drops are formulated to protect your complexion from particulate pollution and the often overlooked danger of blue light from our electronic screens.
With more than 400 five-star reviews, it’s no wonder Collins recommends this cream. The deeply moisturizing cream is supercharged with the brand's 5-Cera Complex to strengthen the skin barrier and shield from water and moisture loss.
For improvement of skin tone and texture, Garshick recommends this serum. The product “effectively tightens and minimizes the look of sagging pores and rough bumps” caused by age or sun damage.
“The combination of kelp and purslane doubles the antioxidant-packed nature to protect the skin,” says Nazarian of this serum. “It improves healing and boosts natural collagen levels.”