Holistic wellness brand Plantopia is betting big on the stress-busting power of adaptogens. We take a closer look at its next-level beauty rituals

Partnership feature with Plantopia.

How often do you feel stressed? My bet is fairly often. The American Psychological Association has been conducting a 15-year study looking at our stress levels and has found that year on year our stress levels have increased, currently 67 per cent of adults, that’s two in three of us, have reported feeling highly stressed at some point in the last two years . The treadmill of modern life, and obviously the unnaturally stressful period we're going through, means that we're feeling it more than ever. Our brains and bodies are always ‘on’. Stress not only manifests itself as feelings of anxiety or low mood and insomnia but it can also show up on our skin.

When we feel emotional distress, our body responds by releasing the stress hormone, cortisol. This chemical floods our brains making us feel mentally out of whack. It also affects the immune system and this can weaken our skin and make it less able to protect itself from things like acne-causing bacteria or wrinkle-inducing pollution. Stress can make skin feel dry and itchy and speed up the ageing process, causing lines, wrinkles, pigmentation and dull-looking skin.

“Your mental wellbeing and your mental stress impact your skin,” says Jennifer Hirsch, an ethnobotanist (that’s someone who studies the relationship between people and plants) who has been working closely on ingredient formulations with the team at new inside-out wellness brand Plantopia , which harnesses the power of plants to bring both our skin and our mind back to balance.

What is Plantopia?

This new holistic wellness brand is on a mission to improve your overall wellbeing by addressing how you look and how you feel. All while ensuring that the planet is looked after too. A pretty big task!

The brains behind the brand have been interested in the link between the brain and skin, and in particular the 'chicken and egg' way in which they interact. For example, if the weather affects your skin this could then trigger a stress response in your brain. It's not just that having dry, cracked skin can make you feel a bit 'meh', it can actually send a chemical message to your brain which can trigger feelings associated with stress.

Next, they looked into the benefits of stress-regulating plants, or adaptogens. The result? Plantopia. A range of plant-based scrubs, masks, mists, soaks and supplements formulated to target mental stress and the stress on your skin simultaneously.

Not just a pretty beauty brand, Plantopia has big ambitions to improve world wellness for both people and planet. How? The people part is taken care of with the holistic products and through ongoing fair partnerships with every grower, supplier and manufacturer used. The planet part is addressed via the brand's unwavering commitment to supply chain transparency, as well as only sourcing ingredients in a sustainable way.

I was curious to try this joined-up approach, as I have always treated my mental health and my skin as two separate entities. When I’m feeling anxious or down in the dumps, I go on a walk or do Pilates. If my skin is looking flat or I’m experiencing breakouts, I switch up my skincare routine. So what's the answer?

Adaptogens to rebalance skin and stress levels

“Plants are the answer to everything,” says Jennifer. “They have been used in traditional medicine and practised for centuries. The fact that something has been in continuous use for 2000 years is a pretty good reason for me to believe in it,” she says. Launched on 3 May, every product within the four Plantopia ranges features adaptogens, plants that are scientifically proven to rebalance stress in your mind and on your skin, combined with essential oils.

Adaptogens are active ingredients found in certain plants such as mushrooms that, when absorbed into the bloodstream, work at a cellular level to help your body deal with physical, chemical and biological stress. They can be taken internally or applied topically and are believed to stimulate the body’s stress protection response and return your body to a balanced state.

In order for something to be considered an adaptogen, it has to meet certain criteria. “It has to be edible and have a proven effect on balancing stress within the body,” says Plantopia. Mushrooms such as chaga and reishi, and turmeric are two of the most commonly used adaptogens. They work by increasing or decreasing chemical reactions in the body. For example, if your cortisol levels are high, an adaptogen will help to bring them down. It’s all about balance. The idea behind Plantopia is to marry the traditional use of plants with the modern science that explains why it works.

I was intrigued to see whether introducing adaptogens into my beauty routine could help me manage my stresses. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, my negative thoughts makes me quite lethargic. Sure enough, my skin mirrors that; it looks flat, less bright and I’m more prone to whiteheads around my chin and mouth. When my mind is stressed, so is my skin, and vice versa.

Which Plantopia stress relief ritual should you try?

Which of the four Plantopia ranges would suit my skin? Core to each range is a particular adaptogen, which is combined with a blend of pure essential oils so that stress levels are balanced and senses are ignited. Win, win! Food supplements and a mist can be found in each range, alongside a selection of bath salts, body lotions and scrubs, face serums and oils, depending on what stress trigger it's designed for.

If you’re feeling anxious…try Relax and Calm

Anti-inflammatory turmeric is combined with sweet geranium to quiet the mind and ease anxiety.

If you’re feeling flat…try Energise and Uplift

Ginseng is an adaptogen well known for its ability to promote energy and bring a bit of zing (get it) back to your skin and senses. The pure essential oil lemongrass helps to reignite a dull mood thanks to its sunny, citrusy scent.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed…try Rest and Sleep

There was no question about which adaptogen would make it into this collection of scrubs, mists and lotions. “Ashwagandha is a great sleep promoter,” says Jennifer. If you struggle with sleep the powerful combination of sleep-inducing ashwagandha and the comforting scent of sandalwood can help to calm a whirring mind.

If you need to reclaim mental clarity and balance...try Detox and Purify

The entry-level range for Plantopia, Detox and Purify uses schisandra, a red berry found in northern China and Russia, to clear the skin and mind of any negative energy to regain mental clarity and balance. The theory goes that once you’ve purged your mind and body of any negative energy you’ll have made room to enjoy the benefits of the other ranges.

When it comes to choosing a range to suit you, Plantopia advises taking a moment to think about how you’re feeling and how that may be showing up on your skin. You pick the range that best addresses your stress triggers and how they present themselves. I’ve been in a bit of a funk and struggling to keep positive, as mentioned this downbeat attitude seems to reflect in my skin too. Gone is a radiant complexion, hello tired, dull-looking skin.

What happened when we tried Plantopia

I chose Pantopia’s Detox and Purify range. This is not a detox in the traditional sense, this range is all about purging the mind, and body, of any negative energy. The adaptogen used is schisandra, used in traditional Chinese medicine for centuries to aid in kidney function and cleaning the liver. Here, schisandra is paired with the tree sap elemi, which is thought to clear the mind of negativity. The range includes Detox and Purify supplements £28 , Clean Slate Face & Space Mist £18 , At Ease Bath Salts £18 , Radiance Reboot Face and Eye Mask £20  and Smooth and Sweep Body Scrub £16 .

I gave At Ease Bath Salts  and the Clean Slate Face & Space Mist  a go, to see if they could help shift me out of the negative mindset that I’d been feeling. The smell alone is pretty zingy thanks to the elemi, it’s fresh and minty. While initially, I was planning on using these at night time, I actually started using them first thing in the morning to set me up for the day. If Princess Margaret can enjoy a 10am bath then so can I.

The salts are in powder form and have chunky grains of pink Himalayan salt in them, which helps to draw out impurities and rid you of negativity. A spoonful in my bath turned into a lovely milky emulsion. It helps to remove toxins and impurities, leaving your skin clear for other products to do their thing. There is definitely a double whammy effect with this bath soak. After each tub time, not only does my skin feel soft and prepped for moisturiser, but my mind, and body, feel ready to take on the day. I never thought a bath would leave me feeling energised but there’s something about these adaptogenic fuelled salts that are giving me fuel for the day.

The mist also contains the same dynamic duo of detoxifying schisandra and elemi, and it is absolutely my hero from the range. You can spritz it anywhere face, bed linen, scarf *insert own object* to give you a little mental boost when you need it. My favourite way to use it was to spritz it in my bathroom as my shower was heating up. This created a sensory sauna where I could collect my thoughts before starting my day.

The final word:

Plantopia has committed to rebalancing the mind, body and skin at home but they also have a commitment that extends much further than your bathroom. The majority of products are housed in infinitely recyclable glass, where plastic has to be used, it's largely post-consumer recycled plastic and the brand even removes the same amount of plastic from the ocean as they use. Impressive eco credentials aside, what Plantopia really cares about is people protecting plants. And it makes sense.

The ethos of Plantopia is the journey to wellness for people and the planet through holistic wellbeing rituals to support the management and impact of stress on the mind, body and skin, grounded in the use of adaptogens and essential oils. Plantopia champions change for people and the planet to encourage and improve world wellness. This manifests itself in small steps (such as moments of calm in your own beauty routine) to significant strides (we're talking totally transparent agreements with indigenous growers), ensuring total transparency every step of the way. To keep them in check, Plantopia is a member of The Union for Ethical Biotrade  showing its commitment to sourcing its ingredients from nature with respect for people and biodiversity.

A brand that rebalances your mind and skin without unbalancing nature's biodiversity, that's what I call the future of beauty and wellness.

Written in partnership with Plantopia. Visit  plantopialife.com  to shop and learn more.