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Ginger: What should we know about this spice?

Beyond its culinary qualities that make it a favoured spice among chefs, ginger is also an ingredient used in the cosmetic and therapeutic fields. Benefits for the skin, biochemical composition, extraction methods... Discover everything you need to know about ginger.

What exactly is ginger?

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant from the Zingiberaceae family, native to Southeast Asia. Often compared to turmeric due to its large rhizomes from which a pale yellow oil can be extracted, the ginger has been used since ancient times in various fields. Notably, it is included in the composition of certain cosmetic treatments under the INCI name "Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract".

In the Middle Ages, ginger was reputed to be an aphrodisiac due to its vasodilatory properties. This belief still persists today. However, it should be noted that numerous studies have been conducted on this subject, but none have so far demonstrated the aphrodisiac effects of ginger.

The term ginger originates from the Sanskrit word "shringavera", which means "shaped like a deer's antler", due to the shape of its rhizomes.

Ginger: A closer look at its biochemical composition.

Ginger is a natural ingredient rich in beneficial actives, responsible for the various benefits it provides to the skin and hair. The table below groups together the different bioactive molecules found in the ginger, as well as the main properties they possess.

Active IngredientProperty(ies)
GingerolAnti-inflammatory, antioxidant, healing, improves blood circulation
ShogaolAnti-inflammatory, antioxidant, healing
CitralAnti-inflammatory, antioxidant
LimoneneAntibacterial
α-pineneAntibacterial
TerpenesAnti-inflammatory, antioxidant
VitaminsNutritional Value
Trace ElementsNutritional Value

What are the benefits of ginger for the skin?

If the ginger is a coveted ingredient in cosmetics, it's because it brings numerous benefits to the skin.

  • The ginger has antioxidant properties.

    It is estimated that ginger contains around forty molecules with antioxidant properties, the most active of which are gingerol and shogaol, capable of effectively combating oxidative stress. Thus, ginger has a photoprotective potential and is a valuable ally for preventing skin ageing.

  • The ginger has an antibacterial effect.

    Ginger is also a good antibacterial, a property conferred by the α-pinene, a bacteriostatic, and the limonene it contains. The latter acts on certain Gram-positive bacteria and causes the rupture of the bacterial membrane, which compromises the cellular integrity of the bacteria.

  • The ginger has anti-inflammatory properties.

    The gingerol, shogaol, and citral found in ginger work at various molecular levels to reduce inflammation. Thus, ginger is often regarded as a helpful ally in cases of redness or itching and can also aid in alleviating the symptoms of psoriasis.

  • The ginger stimulates microcirculation of the blood.

    This property of ginger also comes from gingerol. Studies have shown that this molecule is capable of promoting the dilation of blood vessels, which consequently stimulates microcirculation. This property is beneficial in combating several issues, including certain types of dark circles and bags under the eyes, as well as in cases of heavy legs.

  • Ginger is an effective healing agent.

    Several studies have demonstrated that ginger has a protective effect on collagen and elastin by reducing the synthesis of enzymes responsible for their degradation. In doing so, ginger promotes epithelialisation and tissue regeneration.

What benefits does ginger bring to the hair?

Versatile, the ginger also finds its place in hair care cosmetics.

  • Ginger has sanitising properties.

    Antiseptic in nature, the regular use of ginger through massage or the application of a warm compress to the scalp helps to keep the bacterial populations living on our scalp under control.

  • Ginger soothes scalp itchiness.

    Occasionally prone to tightness and irritation, the scalp also deserves care and attention. For this, ginger is a good candidate due to its soothing and anti-inflammatory properties.

  • Ginger protects the ends and prevents the occurrence of split ends.

    Finally, the antioxidant properties of ginger enable it to protect hair fibres from oxidative stress, which can weaken the hair follicle and promote hair loss and the appearance of split ends.

In what form can we utilise ginger?

As a herbal tea, a spice in dishes, a dietary supplement or a topical application... the ginger is a versatile ingredient that can be used in various ways. In addition to its taste qualities, orally consumed ginger is known to combat motion sickness. In the form of a dietary supplement, the recommended daily dose is generally 1 gram to benefit from its effects. It's also worth noting that this form of ginger can be used to soothe the symptoms of psoriasis.

Before starting a ginger treatment, we recommend you consult with your primary care physician so they can advise you on the dosage and type of supplement that will be most suitable for you.

Regarding the topical application of this ingredient, there are several creams, masks or serums enriched with ginger extract available on the cosmetic market. You can also mix a little spice with water before soaking a clean cloth in it and applying it to the skin for about fifteen minutes. It is also possible to use ginger extract or ginger essential oil, which should be carefully diluted before applying it to the skin and massaging it in.

Adverse effects of ginger in cosmetic use?

Although the ginger is not a particularly irritating ingredient, one must always exercise caution when using a new active ingredient. The first recommendation is for people with a food allergy to ginger. Even though a food allergy does not necessarily lead to a cosmetic allergy, it may be wise to seek medical advice before using ginger in topical application.

To avoid an unexpected allergic reaction, it is also recommended to perform a sensitivity test to ginger. To do this, apply a small amount to the skin. If you observe no redness, swelling, or irritation within the following 24 hours, this indicates that your skin tolerates this ingredient well. Otherwise, it means that your skin is sensitive to ginger and it would be better to avoid using it in the future.

Sources

  • KORLAKUNTA J. N. & co. Comparative study on antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of [6]-gingerol, [8]-gingerol, [10]-gingerol and [6]-shogaol. Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2010).

  • BALIGA M. S. & al. Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) the Dietary Agent in Skin Care: A Review. Bioactive Dietary Factors and Plant Extracts in Dermatology (2012).

  • DUFFY N. & al. Complementary and alternative medicine for psoriasis: what the dermatologist needs to know. American Journal of Clinical Dermatology (2015).

  • ZAAKU J. S. & et al. Medicinal Properties of Ginger and Garlic: A Review. Current trends in biomedical engineering & biosciences (2019).

  • ZAFRILLA P. & al. Impact of Ginger on Inflammatory Conditions. Molecules (2022).

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