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If you have oily or acne-prone skin, you are probably already familiar with the skin care products that are most beneficial for your skin type. There are prescription retinol and retinoids to help with persistent rashes and salicylic acid to unclog pores and reduce oiliness. However, when it comes to improving your skin’s defenses against free radicals and stopping fat, milk thistle is the last under the radar skin care ingredient you need to know.

Also known as silybum marianum, milk thistle has been used in herbal medicine for centuries, recognized as a remedy for everything from preventing various liver diseases to promoting lactation and healing the disease. hangover. It turns out that the seed extract of this flowering plant – known for its thorny purple and red flowers – has a number of skin tone perfecting properties when applied to the skin. And while it may be less well known than some flagship skin care products like, say, hyaluronic acid, experts predict that milk thistle’s range of benefits and effectiveness will make it one. cult classic in no time.

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What is milk thistle?

As a topical ingredient for skin care, milk thistle has several benefits. However, it is important to understand that these benefits must be attributed to silymarin, a flavonoid found in milk thistle seeds which, according to the cosmetic chemist and director of research and development of SOS Beauty Nick Dindio, “contains all the good things” – namely a mixture of pharmacologically active components that are insoluble in water, he explains. While most topical milk thistle products contain milk thistle as is, a few are only formulated with silymarin extract and, in turn, are generally more potent.

First of all, silymarin (and, therefore, milk thistle) is a powerful antioxidant – in fact, a cosmetic dermatologist Dr Mariana Vergara points out that it has been shown to be even more powerful than vitamin E. “It protects the skin from free radicals and pollutants,” she says. “When used topically, it can protect against damage from UVA and UVB rays. It has also been shown to have anti-aging properties, as it is known to inhibit the glycation process, which can prevent aging of the skin. “

As an antioxidant dermatologist and certified by the board of directors Dr Corey L. Hartman says it also protects against the breakdown of collagen and elastin and improves circulation in the skin at the cellular level. But the benefits don’t end there: Silymarin also contains a strong anti-inflammatory effect. “It can help calm irritated skin conditions and promote homeostasis through the regulation of free radicals,” he says.

What sets silymarin apart from other topical antioxidants available today are its anti-inflammatory properties that help calm rashes and its ability to control sebum production, both of which are crucial if you suffer from acne. “This has a direct impact on the activity of the sebaceous glands and their ability to stimulate sebum production,” says Dr. Hartman. Dr Vergara points out another benefit: “It’s also non-comedogenic, so it doesn’t clog your pores, which is a factor that leads to rashes in acne patients. “

How to use milk thistle

How you use topical milk thistle depends on the type of product it’s formulated in, but in general Dindio recommends using it twice a day. “[Milk thistle] primarily affects conditions that build up throughout the day, so I would recommend using it in the morning and evening for maximum effect, ”he says.“ Applying the product in the morning would help alleviate any damage acquired while throughout the day while applying in the evening would ensure that you resolve any further damage. Serums are generally more potent, but experts don’t say using one is necessarily better than a mask or moisturizer – use whatever works best for your skin.

Because silymarin, the main flavonoid in milk thistle, contains large molecules that don’t easily penetrate the skin, Dindio also says it’s best to look for formulas that incorporate encapsulation or other methods that increase its bioavailability. Some products will state milk thistle on the label while others isolate the silymarin flavonoid, but you will get the same benefits for both.

In terms of integrating into your existing routine, milk thistle is compatible with most other ingredients, although Dr. Hartman says they work particularly well with other antioxidants like vitamin C and ferulic acid. , as well as salicylic acid.

Who is a good candidate for milk thistle?

In general, milk thistle pairs well with all skin types and tones. Because it offers antioxidant protection, Dindio considers it a prime candidate for anyone looking to prevent or improve the appearance of photoaging and the effects of environmental stressors (like dullness, fine lines, etc.). But because of its anti-inflammatory and oil-controlling properties, Dr. Hartman says it’s an especially good choice for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin. Overall, he considers milk thistle a great way to reap multiple skin benefits at once: “[Milk thistle is] fits easily into a skin care regimen and achieves more than one goal, which is always a consideration for me, a skin care minimalist. “

Coming up, seven milk thistle and silymarin products to incorporate into your routine to boost your skin’s defense against free radicals, fight the signs of aging, and fight oily and rashes.

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of the sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.



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