Underground Sensation: We Get To The Root Of The Ginseng Craze

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Ginseng 1We beauty junkies are no strangers to wackadoo skin treatments. From coconut water to tomato paste, there's few things we haven't slathered on or slugged down in our quest for perfect skin. And we're always on the lookout for the next miracle ingredient that promises to zap zits, get rid of wrinkles and give us that elusive, healthy glow — even on four hours' sleep.

Turns out, beauty's newest miracle ingredient is actually very old: ginseng. The humble-looking, knobbly root of the ginseng plant has been consumed in Asian countries for centuries, and is credited with a host of health benefits from increased energy to weight loss. These days, ginseng is also popping up in our favorite skin care products, promising to detox skin and fight premature aging. Sounds too good be true, right? We spoke with our favorite skin care experts to get the scoop on whether ginseng is the real deal, or just the latest hype.

First up: that elusive glow. According to Origins Director of Product Development Wendy Brooks, "Ginseng is part of an ingredient complex that helps to boost skin’s energy to keep it looking fresh, healthy and energized." In this study conducted by the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginseng consumption was found to improve circulation. According to Annet King, Director of Global Education at the International Dermal Institute, those bloodflow-boosting properties benefit skin when applied topically: "Ginseng is an antioxidant and stimulant, so it's great for brightening dull, aging skin," she says.

Tired skin will also benefit from ginseng's anti-inflammatory effects. "Ginseng brightens and depuffs undereye skin — it's great for combating dark circles," says Brooks. (We'll definitely remember that next time we're out 'til last call.)

While ginseng is a boon to most skin types, our experts agree that mature skin will see the most benefit. According to Sulwhasoo's Research & Development specialists, ginseng's antioxidant effects can help heal damaged, dry, or aging skin.

The jury's still out on whether ginseng can benefit acne-prone skin, but King says new research is promising. "In addition to anti-aging benefits, recent research points to ginseng reducing over-active oil glands," she says. "It’s also recognized as an anti-bacterial agent."

So, let's review: Ginseng reduces puffiness, brightens undereye circles, prevents wrinkles, may benefit acne, and boosts bloodflow for a natural glow. Convinced this stuff deserves a place in your medicine cabinet yet? If you like the DIY route, consider this tutorial on how to whip up your own ginseng mask. For the less crafty, you can also find ginseng in a wide range of beauty products. Whether you get your beauty fix at Saks or CVS, here's a few of our fave ways to get ginseng into your anti-aging arsenal.

If you need even more convincing, how's this: The skin geniuses at Dermalogica have offered a special treat just for our readers — just purchase any Cover Tint or Sheer Tint, and receive a complimentary, travel-sized SkinPerfect Primer SPF30. No special code needed, so get shopping!

Origins GinZing Refreshing eye cream, $30, available at Origins; Dermalogica CoverTint SPF20, $44, available at Dermalogica; Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Cream, $220, available at Sulwhasoo; WEI Ginseng Repairing Hand Cream, $12, available at Beauty.com.