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Anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients are like a bucket of cold water for inflamed skin. Whether you’re dealing with inflamed and irritated skin from rosacea, atopic dermatitis, or from breakouts, anti-inflammatory ingredients are a sincere “there there” for the skin. They provide instant relief for the skin that’s on fire, which, coincidentally, is what inflamed skin looks like.
Inflammation is your skin’s response to a “disturbance” from the inside or the outside. Unprotected sun exposure or an irritating skincare product are common causes.
These factors trigger your skin’s immune response and cause inflammation, which looks like red, swollen areas on the face that can itch and burn.
That’s why anti-inflammatory ingredients are a must for people who have chronic inflammatory skin conditions such as rosacea. Because your skin is always on the edge, ready to get all red and itchy.
The other day, I was in the middle of washing my face when I remembered that I’d already cleansed my skin. So that double face washing instantly gave me a raised, swollen bump on my left cheek that was burning and itching at the same time.
But here’s the thing, when not taken care of, inflammation stops being the result of something. And it starts being the cause of something. Chronic inflammation can lead to hyperpigmentation and premature aging.
So if you know the cause of your inflammation, you need to eliminate that too. Besides calming the skin with anti-inflammatory ingredients, address the cause of inflammation as well. That’s the key to prevention.
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Skincare Ingredients
Find below the best anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients to calm redness and irritation.
1. Vitamin C
A powerful antioxidant, we’re familiar with how anti-aging, skin-brightening, and collagen-producing vitamin C is. But vitamin C is an amazing anti-inflammatory ingredient. Vitamin C neutralizes free radicals caused by sun exposure or pollution.
Elements like these cause inflammation on the skin, which leads to sunburn, compromised skin barrier, and in the long run, wrinkles. By interfering with the process, vitamin C works amazingly well to prevent and reduce inflammation in the skin. And it’s not just for sunburn. Vitamin C soothes redness on rosacea skin as well (1).
2. Green Tea
Green tea owes its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to certain compounds it possesses. These are called phenols. You literally can write a whole book on phenols, subgroups of phenols, their subgroups, and the individual compounds. That’s how rich green tea extract is.
Catechins, in particular, are the reason why green tea is so effective in protecting the skin against UV damage and inflammation. When applied to the skin, green tea soothes the skin, and reduces redness, irritation, and swelling (2), making it one of the best anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients.
Among skincare ingredients, aloe vera is probably the one that has no mystery attached to it. You can literally watch it in action when you apply the gel from your aloe vera plant.
Aloe vera forms a very thin layer on the skin, which increases moisture retention. But because it’s packed with compounds like vitamins and minerals (3), it’s an effective ingredient to reduce inflammation from sunburn and irritated and sensitized skin.
One way or another, we’ve all heard that oatmeal is the antidote for red, dry, and itchy skin (4). Oatmeal, being the easiest DIY mask you can try at home, is a lifesaver for people with sensitive skin and rosacea.
Just like green tea, oatmeal is rich in phenols, which makes it a strong antioxidant and anti-inflammatory ingredient (5). It soothes the skin, calms inflammation, and eliminates redness on the skin.
5. Centella Asiatica
Centella Asiatica, sometimes referred to as gotu kola, cica, or tiger grass, is a widely known wound-healing agent. Even if you’re not familiar with the plant, you must have heard of the ointment Madecassol. It’s usually prescribed for irritated skin or sudden rashes. And its name comes from the compounds found in Centella Asiatica.
Centella asitacia is rich in madecassoide a.k.a asiatic acid (6). It’s an anti-inflammatory skincare ingredient that not only reduces redness but also increases moisture in the skin. Plus, it’s an amazing treatment for atopic dermatitis (7).
If you’re a fellow rosacea sufferer, then you’re already familiar with this ingredient. This plant-derived skin soother possesses anti-bacterial and antioxidant benefits. And of course, it’s incredibly anti-inflammatory for the skin too.
And just like it is with other plant-derived antioxidants, its calming effects are because of the phenolic compounds it contains such as terpenoids and flavonoids. By the way, chamomile also has wound-healing properties and helps minimize signs of aging (8).
Also called marigold, calendula is a flowering plant. Though calendula extract is sometimes added to skincare products for its color or its smell, it also comes as a stand-alone ingredient in many soothing, calming, and skin-softening products (9).
Interestingly, calendula oil has even shown some sun protection activity when formulated into a cream. It had SPF 14, which is quite impressive (10).
Licorice extract is a tyrosine inhibitor and is one of the best skincare ingredients for hyperpigmentation and dark spots. But licorice extract is also anti-inflammatory for the skin (11).
Because of this, it’s usually paired with similar soothing plant-derived ingredients such as oatmeal, green tea, and aloe in products created for people with sensitive skin.
This one needs no introduction as we’re all somewhat familiar with cucumber’s skin-soothing effects. Cucumber reduces redness from irritation, from sun exposure and also reduces swelling and puffiness.
Niacinamide, also known as vitamin B3, is widely used in skincare to even out skin tone, brighten skin, and also improve the skin barrier. And the reason why it’s used in improving the skin barrier is that niacinamide increases the lipid content in the skin and stimulates ceramide production.
Ceramides help keep the skin protected and moisturized. So this is partially why it helps calm inflammation, especially if you need an anti-inflammatory ingredient because you’ve over-exfoliated or damaged the skin barrier and dealing with dryness (12).
And lastly, panthenol is such a versatile skincare ingredient that it alone is enough to reduce inflammation, redness, and irritation.
It’s also called vitamin B5 and it’s a humectant that attracts and binds water to the skin, helping it stay hydrated. So when your skin is parched and red, panthenol is something that’ll help with both!
The Best Anti-Inflammatory Skincare Products
Products with anti-inflammatory ingredients can help you with chronic or sudden inflammation. Add the most convenient one into your skincare routine to manage redness, irritation, and sensitivity. From serums to creams, find below some of the most effective anti-inflammatory skincare products.
Dr. Jart has a whole collection formulated around Centella Asiatica. And they’re incredibly helpful for people with rosacea to fight inflammation and redness. This face cream is going to put out that fire. Whether you’re dealing with post-shower redness or an annoying rosacea flare-up, apply the cream on clean, dry skin to reduce redness instantly. The cream soothes and moisturizes the skin with the help of panthenol, and niacinamide.
Key Ingredients: Centella Asiatica, niacinamide, panthenol
Skin Type: All, especially dry
Size: 1.69 oz/50 ml
This is the first thing I put on my skin when it’s winter and my skin is extra dry from the cold and the wind. It’s also what I use when my skin barrier is damaged and I have rosacea flare-ups. It’s made with panthenol as well as Centella Asiatica. And it’s a rich cream made with shea butter to keep the skin soft and moisturized. Trust me, it works very fast to calm inflammation.
Key Ingredients: Madecassoside, vitamin B5
Skin Type: All, especially dry, sensitive
Size: 1.3 oz
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, non-comedogenic
This one is a vitamin C serum to boost radiance. But it’s specially formulated for sensitive skin types and made with a stable, non-irritating form of vitamin C. Its alcohol-free, fragrance-free formulation is perfect for caring for the skin without irritating it. Plus, it has sunflower seed oil, which is super replenishing for the skin. It comes in handy to help repair the damaged skin barrier, which is common on inflamed skin.
Key Ingredients: Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, cruelty-free
An incredibly gentle formula, this toner is going to make all the difference in your skin. Apply it as the first step in your routine after you clean your face. It’ll eliminate redness and sensitivity. And you can comfortably layer your serums and moisturizers on top. It’s made with oatmeal as well as soothing honey. And it also has hyaluronic acid and squalane to boost moisture and green tea extract to calm inflammation.
Key Ingredients: Colloidal oatmeal, green tea, licorice extract
Skin Type: All
Size: 6 oz/177 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free, alcohol-free, cruelty-free
Similarly, this is also formulated around oatmeal for its calming benefits. The serum works as an instant rescue to soothe irritation and redness. In addition to oatmeal, it also has feverfew extract, which is another anti-inflammatory ingredient. The formulation is fragrance-free, which is great when you have reactive skin. You can hydrate your skin, manage your redness, and reduce irritation all thanks to its oatmeal-packed formula.
Key Ingredients: Oat extracts
Skin Type: All
Size: 1 oz/30 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free
This is an excellent anti-aging essence to repair the damaging effects of free radicals. Its minimal formulation helps green tea thrive. Whether you’re dealing with sun damage and looking to ward off free radicals, or just trying to keep inflammation and breakouts at bay, this Korean essence literally infuses the skin with green tea essence. It can be an addition to your anti-aging skincare routine. It can also be the star of your routine if your skin is too sensitive for heavy actives like retinol.
Key Ingredients: Green tea extract
Skin Type: All
Size: 2.37 oz/70 ml
Good To Know: Alcohol-free
When you’re dealing with inflammation, whatever the cause, a face mask can be of great use. Because masks get to work instantly and do what they’re supposed to do. With that in mind, you can try this anti-inflammatory face mask. It’s actually an overnight face mask, but it doesn’t need all night to work. It’s made with compounds derived from Centella Asiatica to care for inflamed skin. But it also has soothing panthenol and hydrating squalane. The fragrance-free face mask, when you use it as an overnight mask, helps you wake up with a fresh, rested, and calmer complexion.
Key Ingredients: Vitamin B5, Asiatic acid
Skin Type: All
Size: 2 oz/60 ml
Good To Know: Fragrance-free
There is no shortage of aloe vera skincare products. But here’s the thing, most of them are around 95% aloe paired with some other botanical. Why not just cut the middleman and go directly to the source? That’s when you can get the whole thing in its most nourishing, isolated, and effective form. Just cut out a small part of the plant and rub the gel on your skin.
So these are some of the best anti-inflammatory skincare ingredients and anti-inflammatory skincare products. If you haven’t found a product you like here, just look for those anti-inflammatory ingredients when choosing your creams or serums.
Read Next: The Best Skincare Products For Rosacea
- Telang P. S. (2013). Vitamin C in dermatology. Indian dermatology online journal, 4(2), 143–146. https://doi.org/10.4103/2229-5178.110593
- Koch W, Zagórska J, Marzec Z, Kukula-Koch W. Applications of Tea (Camellia sinensis) and Its Active Constituents in Cosmetics. Molecules. 2019; 24(23):4277. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules24234277
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- Mishra, A., Mishra, A., & Chattopadhyay, P. (2012). Assessment of In vitro Sun Protection Factor of Calendula Officinalis L. (Asteraceae) Essential Oil Formulation. Journal of young pharmacists : JYP, 4(1), 17–21. https://doi.org/10.4103/0975-1483.93575
- Ciganović, P., Jakimiuk, K., Tomczyk, M., & Zovko Končić, M. (2019). Glycerolic Licorice Extracts as Active Cosmeceutical Ingredients: Extraction Optimization, Chemical Characterization, and Biological Activity. Antioxidants (Basel, Switzerland), 8(10), 445. https://doi.org/10.3390/antiox8100445
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