In Japan, it’s tradition to walk through a forest to find stress relief. They coined the term forest bathing, and even doctors there prescribe jaunts in nature as preventative medicine, as plenty of studies have shown major reductions in cortisol, which in turn, help stress to plummet. Now this soothing trend is coming for your skin.
“Forest skin care is buzzing—it’s skin-care brands inspired by the Japanese tradition of walking through forests for stress reduction,” Annie Jackson, co-founder and COO of Credo Beauty tells me. “So brands are adapting medicinal ingredients that you’d find in a forest to boost your skin’s immunity and promote stress relief.”
It may sound out-there, but there’s legitimacy to the whole thing. The translation of forest bathing for your skin involves the most healing, nourishing plant extracts that you’d find amongst the trees—think Siberian fir, eucalyptus oil, juniper, birch sap, chaga mushroom—that all work to get your complexion healthier and less, well, stressed from outer forces.
“Forest skin care is a branch—no pun intended—from the ‘natural’ trend of the past few years,” says Rachel Nazarian, MD, board-certified dermatologist with Schweiger Dermatology. “There’s some science to back this trend—we know that mushrooms can enhance moisture and hydration similar to hyaluronic acid. Many mushrooms, which are a classic forest finding, have abilities to improve pigmentation and have shown anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and even antibacterial properties, which makes them a great addition to a skin-care regimen.”
As for tree-derived ingredients like birch tree bark and extracts, Dr. Nazarian notes they have potent antioxidant abilities and are also anti-inflammatory powerhouses. “I’d say we certainly need more clinical trials and research to determine the benefits of other aspects of forest skin care, but what’s available is promising,” she says. Off to the woods our beauty shelves go—keep scrolling for some skin-care products that replicate a forest bath in a bottle.
Olverum The Body Oil, $72
Drench your entire body from head (er, décolletage) to toe with this invigorating oil that blends both woody and floral extracts for an at-home aromatherapy massage. It has notes of sandalwood and rosemary leaf for a sexy scent that takes you out of your city-sized bathroom and smack into the middle of a forest with one application (which also works to lock moisture into your skin).
Banish blemishes while experiencing the relaxing sensation of willow bark (which gently exfoliates), Amazonian acai, and copaiba (both of which soothe acne spots) working together to clear your skin while transporting you to an actual rainforest.
This gentle facial cleansing oil washes away all gunk and makeup off of your face (eyes too!) with soothing oils spiked with white birch extract and ginseng root that leave your skin looking bright, even, and fresh.
Your skin will gulp up this ultra-moisturizing gel cream that’s infused with alpine berry to hydrate, artemisia extract to protect your skin barrier, and pine needle extract, which keeps your oil production under control, for a face that’s happy, nourished, and shine-free. (Plus it has the most refreshing nature-like smell.)
Birch water is such a gentle way to remove impurities from your skin while leaving it soft and hydrated. This essence, which plumps your complexion post-cleansing, also has a blend of different mushroom types (snow and reishi) to infuse antioxidants into your skin and feed your barrier.
Pouring these nutrient-dense crystals into your bath turns your full-body cleanse into a (woodsy) spa experience. Birch bark, fir, and juniper swirl together to get your blood circulating, sore muscles soothed, and your senses invigorated as a perfect way to literally forest bathe.
The bud extract from a beech tree in this moisturizer singlehandedly boosts your skin’s hydration, and, mixed with ginseng root and goji berry, you’re covered on the antioxidants front, too, for an all-around nourishing, forest-derived product.
This creamy but super-light moisturizer is 70 percent white birch sap, which soothes inflammation and dryness. It also has willow bark water to help prevent acne-causing bacteria, and snail secretion for even more skin hydration (snails are found in the forest, too!).
BTW, in case you haven’t heard: The skin-care trend is booming, and isn’t slowing down anytime soon. If you’re just building up your routine, here are the “big four” skin-care products dermatologists say to stock up on.