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.