Ginger is an ingredient you're probably accustomed to seeing in the kitchen. Known for its smooth, spicy heat, it also comes with some impressive health benefits. When ingested, ginger can help treat an upset stomach, cold and flu symptoms, and muscle pain. Its healing powers don't end there though. Applying ginger topically can also potentially come with some impressive benefits.
“Ginger contains a specific compound that alleviates itch and inflammation when applied topically,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. “There have been many studies that have shown the effects of ginger on the prostaglandin pathways and inflammatory cascades in the skin. Other studies have occasionally shown improvement in swelling, arthritis, hypertension, and other conditions, but trials on its effects on the skin have not been sufficiently done to determine its full role in skincare.”
If you have sensitive skin and you want to begin incorporating ginger into your skincare routine, it's a good idea to begin by using ginger extract or even grated ginger from a fresh ginger root as opposed to a concentrated oil. And whether you have sensitive skin or not, it's always best to dilute essential oils before applying them topically. This can be through water or a carrier oil like coconut oil, castor oil, or jojoba oil.
With all of this in mind, let's dive into some of the biggest beauty benefits of this natural ingredient.
Ginger contains over 40 antioxidants, which makes a strong case for it being particularly powerful against free radical production, a leading cause of premature aging in the skin. There is even a study suggesting that combining ginger extract and turmeric can boost collagen production in the skin. More collagen will lead to skin that's more elastic, supple, and ultimately younger-looking.
Because of ginger's extensive toning and antioxidant properties it can also work wonders on scar tissue. Antioxidants help to increase blood flow which can help scar tissue blend better into the skin. Because ginger also has the potential to boost melanin production (which makes skin darker), it can be particularly great for treating hypopigmented scars, scars that are lighter than the rest of your skin tone. In addition to helping diminish the appearance of white scars, it has also been used to treat other pigmentation issues such as vitiligo.
One of the easiest ways to give this a try is to apply a slice of fresh ginger root to the affected area and leave it on until the ginger dries. Repeat this twice a day until you begin to see an improvement.
Ginger's high mineral content mixed with its antiseptic, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties make it a great ingredient to try whenever dandruff issues arise. Ginger may be able to fight off malassezia, a fungus that often triggers dandruff and can also soothe an irritated scalp with its anti-inflammatory benefits. The ingredient's ability to promote blood circulation can also potentially even contribute to hair growth.
To use ginger on the scalp, try adding a few drops of ginger essential oil to your shampoo. For a more intensive treatment, create a simple DIY hair mask by combining ginger oil with an oil that is high in hydrating fatty acids like coconut oil or argan oil. Work it into the roots, focusing on the scalp, and allow it to soak for about 30 minutes before rinsing with shampoo and warm water.
Another one of ginger's main benefits is that it can increase blood circulation, which in turn, can potentially help to reduce the appearance of cellulite. One of the simplest ways to see if this might work for you is to create a DIY body scrub. In addition to removing dead skin cells, body scrubs also encourage blood flow.
To create a super simple body scrub, combine granulated sugar, coconut oil, and a few drops of essential oils. If you don't feel like making your own, try ORIGINS Ginger Body Scrub.
“Theoretically, ginger can exert antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects which may decrease redness and the size of inflammatory lesions of acne,” says Dr. Nazarian. “Ginger’s cousin, black ginger, has shown a small amount of evidence that it may improve acne when applied topically.” Dr. Nazarian explains that this type of ginger has shown some antibacterial effects on acne bacteria and can also decrease oil production in oil glands and decrease inflammation. “More information is needed, but emerging evidence suggests that this form of ginger may play a role in treating acne,” she says.
As with all home remedy-based beauty tips, remember to start slowly to see how your skin reacts to the ingredient. Patch test ginger oil, fresh ginger, or ginger extract on a small area of skin before applying it all over the body, scalp, or face. This is a great first step for all skin types but particularly important for anyone with sensitive skin.
While Dr. Nazarian thinks more research needs to be done before you commit to a super ginger-heavy skincare routine, she suggests experimenting with a moisturizer that includes the ingredient as it’s most likely to help soothe dry, irritated skin.
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