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Anti-Inflammatory Skincare Ingredients Explained

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If you feel your skin is too itchy, easily reactive, can’t tolerate harsh products, or have breakouts, you know you need anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients. Anti-inflammatory ingredients have always had a crucial role in skincare, without which acne, redness, and rosacea couldn’t have ever been soothed. They are great to help calm irritations and comfort the skin, whether it’s about dealing with inflammatory skin conditions or a simple sensitivity to a chemical compound. Which, by the way, happens quite often. That’s why almost everyone uses anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients in their life at some point since so many factors such as UV exposure, chemicals, bacteria, and environmental damage can cause skin irritations and inflammations.

Rest assured, with these anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients featured ahead, you’ll be able to soothe your sensitive, irritated skin, as well as manage inflammatory conditions. 

How do anti-inflammatory ingredients soothe sensitive skin?

Anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients are those elements, chemically or naturally sourced, that prevent, target, and relieve skin inflammations. Skin inflammation is an immune response triggered in the moment the body precepts a foreign intruder and tries to fight it.

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For example, a common intruder is free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage skin cells and are known to trigger chronic inflammations. Most antioxidants are considered anti-inflammatory agents as they neutralize these molecules and prevent tissue damage. UV exposure, smoking, and pollution are known factors that inflame the skin because they lead to an increase in free radicals. 

A chemical penetrating through your protective skin barrier and affecting your skin cells is another scenario that happens quite often and leads to skin inflammation. Even natural extracts can cause severe irritations if your skin has an oversensitivity to them.

Other causes involve genetics, injuries, bacterial infections, and inflammatory conditions like psoriasis, acne, or dermatitis. Last but not least, whether the reasons, skin inflammation usually manifests as redness, swelling, flaky skin, and itchiness. If you face these symptoms, you have to add anti-inflammatory ingredients to your skincare routine to alleviate inflammation and protect your skin. Like these:

Resveratrol

Resveratrol is a polyphenol mainly produced by grapes and blueberries, but it can actually be obtained from more than 70 natural sources. As it possesses high antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, resveratrol is often used in skin care to prevent photoaging, reduce inflammations and redness, as well as to soothe rough skin and wrinkles. Studies confirmed that resveratrol could protect skin cells against the effects of free radicals, targeting the causes of inflammations before they break out. 

Niacinamide

Niacinamide, or nicotinamide, is a form of vitamin B3 commonly used in skincare thanks to its ability to strengthen skin defense against environmental damage. It does that by increasing skin’s moisture content and reducing water loss which helps consolidate skin barrier function. As a result, niacinamide helps prevent skin inflammation since a compromised barrier is more easily affected by external aggressors’ damage, including free radicals. Besides, niacinamide is also considered a powerful antioxidant and has anti-inflammatory effects in acne- and rosacea-induced inflammations

Azelaic acid

Azelaic acid is a naturally occurring acid found in barley, rye, and wheat. It’s working to exfoliate the skin layers and remove old, weakened cells that can clog the pores and attract bacteria, causing inflammations like pimples and breakouts. Because azelaic acid is also antibacterial, it’s often used to fight acne, considered equally effective as 0.05% tretinoin cream. As if that wasn’t enough, azelaic acid is known to have anti-inflammatory and antioxidants activities and was found to be especially effective in soothing chronic inflammatory conditions, like rosacea.  

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Green tea

Green tea is a rich source of polyphenols, which possess high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Polyphenols, especially EGCG, the most abundant catechin in green tea, help skin cells fight free radicals, which in turn prevent inflammations. And since EGCG has antimicrobial activities, topical application of green tea may also improve acne and relieve irritations. For this reason, green tea is considered one of the most effective anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients. 

Omega-3 fatty acids

These essential fatty acids are found in fish, nuts, and seeds and are renowned for lowering inflammation and softening rough, dry skin. Both topical application and oral supplementation of omega-3 fatty acids can reduce UV-induced damage, minimize aging signs, and lessen skin inflammations. On top of that, it was shown multiple times that omega-3 fatty acids have the potential to alleviate inflammatory skin conditions, including psoriasis and acne. 

Rosehip oil

Rosehip oil is another popular anti-inflammatory skincare ingredient since it has a high content of polyphenols, vitamins, and fatty acids that aid in hydrate, protect, and soften the skin. As it’s rich in antioxidants from polyphenols, vitamins C and E, rosehip oil works great to reduce inflammation and calm irritation resulting from rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, or dermatitis. More than that, rosehip oil contains linoleic, oleic, palmitic, and stearic acids, which keep skin moisturized and healthy. 

Licorice

The licorice extract comes from the root of the licorice plant (Glycyrrhiza glabra) and is one of the world’s oldest natural skin remedies. Licorice is composed of a lot of polyphenols, of which 13 are known to have powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Some of its active compounds are also known to possess antimicrobial activities. As a result, licorice is frequently recommended for acne and eczema. Basically, licorice works excellent to soften itchiness, redness, and irritations, being touted as one of the best anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients.

Aloe vera

Aloe vera is the first that comes to mind when I think of a soothing ingredient. The gel-like substance extracted from the plant’s leave has been used for centuries to heal wounds and reduce inflammations. What makes aloe vera such a great anti-inflammatory skincare ingredient is its 75 active compounds, including vitamins, enzymes, minerals, and amino acids. More precisely, it contains vitamins A, C, E, B12, folic acid, and choline, which are all antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and decrease skin cells damage. Then aloe vera contains eight enzymes that help reduce inflammation when applied to the skin and fatty acids with anti-inflammatory properties. 

Chamomile

Because chamomile contains 36 flavonoids, it’s a rich source of anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds. For this reason, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and other inflammations of the skin are oftentimes treated with chamomile. It also helps alleviates redness and skin irritations, including sunburn and swelling.

Witch hazel

When applied to the skin, witch hazel reduces itching and swelling and is commonly used to calm inflammation caused by acne or eczema. Gallic acid and tannins, two active compounds in witch hazel, have anti-inflammatory properties that treat skin irritations. Witch hazel also has antioxidants, repairing and protecting skin cells from free radicals.

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