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Why Ginseng Is the Natural Ingredient Your Anti-Aging Skin Care Routine Is Missing

You don’t have to use harsh, irritating ingredients to effectively stave off and diminish signs of aging like wrinkles. Incorporate ginseng-infused products into your routine and you’ll quickly see why.

If there’s anyone who has her finger on the pulse of Korean beauty trends, it’s Soko Glam’s very own founder, Charlotte Cho. In an article she recently penned, Charlotte outlined what she believes will be some of the biggest beauty trends for 2019. One of them is an increase in “hanbang” ingredients, a.k.a. traditional herbal ingredients that have played a key role in Asian health and beauty regimens since ancient times.

Ginseng is a perfect example of a hanbang ingredient, and is one that should be part of your skin care regimen if wrinkles and dark circles are among your skin concerns. 

A Brief History of Ginseng in Health and Beauty

“Ginseng — also known as the ‘root of immortality’ — is a sweet, tonic herb that has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to treat various disorders. It is believed to both stimulate and relax the nervous system and improve stamina,” notes Barbara Close, an esthetician who specializes in therapeutic herbalism. She’s also the founder of her own natural skin care line, Naturopathica.

As you probably gathered from the above, ginseng has traditionally been consumed orally, especially via tea and tinctures. Such usage has been documented as far back as 196 AD, which means it was probably used even years before that.

Interestingly, it took another 2000 or so years before ginseng was formulated for topical usage. You can thank K-Beauty brand, Sulwhasoo, for that. In 1960, the brand’s founder, Sung-hwan Suh, made it his goal to incorporate traditional Korean medicinal plants in skin care, and his sights fell on ginseng specifically.

Since then, ginseng has been utilized in numerous skin care products across a variety of brands. Many of these brands are from the East, though a few Western brands — such as Origins and Fresh — have incorporated the ingredient into their lineup, as well.

Ginseng’s Skin Care Benefits

Though it took quite some time for ginseng to be used in skin care, the benefits aren’t any less notable.

“Ginseng root contains numerous bioactive compounds, including saponins, polysaccharides, pectin, sugar, vitamins B1, B2, B12, pantothenic acid and minerals, which help to increase oxygenation and circulation to skin cells [for] a healthy glow,” says Close. “In addition, its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant qualities help to protect skin from free radical damage.”

Close says that all skin types can benefit from ginseng, though it’s particularly useful for anyone who’s concerned about aging. She notes, “Ginseng has a complex of polysaccharides and glycoproteins, which form a weightless film on the surface that helps to firm and smooth the appearance of fine lines.”

In addition to firming and reducing lines, ginseng helps de-puff the area around your eyes and can help minimize dark circles. As such, you’ll find the ingredient in a number of eye creams.

K-Beauty Product Recommendations with Ginseng

One of our favorite ginseng-infused lines is from Danahan, now available on sokoglam.com. The brand uses a complex of ginseng extracts including seed oil, which contains more antioxidants than other forms of the ingredient. The Danahan Ginseng Seed Secret Essence ($58) is both richly moisturizing and anti-aging and the brand’s Secret Emulsion ($40) offers additional firming and revitalizing benefits.

For eye cream, Erborian’s Ginseng Infusion Total Eye ($46) is a great product to start with. It’s a hearty moisturizer, made with ginseng root extract, centella asiatica (cica) extract, licorice extract, and shea butter, that melts into the delicate skin around your eyes. 

In the face cream department, look to Beauty of Joseon, a brand that builds its formulas around traditional hanbang ingredients like ginseng. Its luxe Revitalize Sleeping Mask utilizes ginseng to energize and smooth skin overnight. Other star ingredients in the formula include black soybean (to tighten) and orchid (to brighten and soften). The brand’s cult favorite Dynasty Cream also contains ginseng, along with orchid, and honey to hydrate, brighten, and firm.

Ginseng root extract is also prominently featured in the Dr. Althea Essential Skin Conditioner Silk Masks to help promote skin renewal and improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation.

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