By Katie Wright
We’re told that sugary snacks aren’t good for our complexions, so how can marshmallow have skincare benefits?
The truth is, when marshmallow is listed on a beauty product’s ingredient list, that doesn’t mean the fluffy pink and white confection is contained within – it means the plant extract, aka althaea officinalis.
“Marshmallow root contains a gooey substance called mucilage. It used to be used to thicken the mixture that makes marshmallow sweets, but these days, gelatin is usually used instead.” says Vicky Lyons, CEO and co-founder of natural skincare brand Lyonsleaf, which grows the plant on its farm in Somerset.
So, you can rest assured that you won’t be slathering sugar all over your face, but rather the root extract. Here’s what you need to know about marshmallow in skincare…
“Marshmallow softens and hydrates – it is really quite remarkable,” Lyons says. “If you have ever forgotten your gloves when gardening, you may have experienced ‘sandpaper fingertips’. I tried for years to overcome this, with dozens of formulations, and nothing succeeded until I added marshmallow root to my concoctions.
“It also repairs hands that are dry, chapped or sore from washing-up, cleaning or excessive hand-washing, probably because it contains polysaccharides and flavonoids that are associated with tissue repair.”
While it can really go to town on gnarly skin, marshmallow is also gentle enough to use on your face, she says: “It will hydrate the driest skin and make it feel velvety soft. It’s also anti-inflammatory and antiseptic.
“I would say dry skin is the best served by marshmallow root extract,” Lyons adds, but that doesn’t mean oilier skin types should avoid it.
“All skin needs to be kept hydrated and soft, even oily skin, so it is really suitable for all skin types – and allergies to it are very rare. Of course, you should always do a patch test, because potentially you can be allergic to anything.”
The extract could also help with anti-ageing, Lyons says, “because it is so good at helping the skin hold moisture – hydrated skin is always more plumped and youthful looking”.
In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties mean it’s “very useful for chronic skin conditions, like eczema, acne and dermatitis”.
But how should it be used as part of a skincare routine?
“For the face, I recommend using it after oil cleansing, which prepares your skin to accept good nourishing oils,” says Lyons.
Marshmallow root extract is often found in soothing toners or moisturisers suitable for sensitive skin. Alternatively, a few drops of oil can be used as the last step in your evening routine.
Lyons says she always has a pot of multipurpose marshmallow balm in her bag: “I use it as a lip balm, it’s great if someone gets stung by nettles or an insect and, of course, for my poor hands that have been washed and washed and washed again.”