Artemisia Vulgaris, otherwise known as Mugwort, took the Korean skincare industry by storm in 2018 and throughout last year. However, the sudden surge in popularity wasn’t just a come and go trend, and is now considered to be a staple ingredient in the skincare routines of those with sensitive, oily and acne-prone skin types.
Artemisia is a plant belonging to the daisy or Asteraceae species. Because it is native to several countries and continents – including Europe and Asia – Artemisia has numerous names, although universally referred to in dermatology and cosmetology as “Mugwort”. If we take a look back to ancient eras – more specifically the Korean Gojoseon and Joseon Dynasties – Mugwort was originally used for both culinary purposes and in traditional Korean herbal medicine practices for its anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, skin soothing and over skin protecting/strengthening properties.
In present day Mugwort continues to be ingested for its antioxidants, which have been described as being able to supply similar immune boosting effects to that of vitamin C. Putting Mugwort leaves and other extracts into rice cakes is the preferred way to consume the plant’s antioxidants, rather than eating them directly. On the other hand, in skincare Mugwort can be used in all sorts or formulations: in moisturisers, serums, ampoules, enzyme powder face washes, essences, toners, sheet masks and even wash-off face masks.
Mugwort is most favoured by individuals who have acne-prone and sensitive skin types, often being viewed as a more natural approach to skincare instead of using chemical acne skin treatments for example. Although, taking into account how the ingredient was used in ancient times, Mugwort can further benefit those who suffer from psoriasis and eczema or atopic dermatitis; reason being that Mugwort not only reduces redness and inflammation but its vitamin E keeps the affected area hydrated enough to aid the healing process and turnover cycle of new healthy skin cells. A factor that really separates itself from other common ingredients in acne skincare, is that it doesn’t negatively interfere with fungal acne. As mentioned earlier, Mugwort has in fact anti-fungal properties.
Despite Mugwort not being a new addition into dermatology and herbal medicine, it still is relatively fresh to the commercial cosmetic industry, meaning that some people remain reliant on drying lotions and steroid creams to treat their eczema and other common skin conditions. Mugwort infused skincare also isn’t readily available as of yet (at least not so much in the western side of the world).
Currently, more American and European brands are looking into producing Mugwort based skin care – taking inspiration from K-Beauty brands who now sell their products worldwide. With herbal ingredients being controversial (some arguing that there isn’t enough scientific research and evidence based around such ingredients outside of Asia), it appears to be taking a long time for western brands to incorporate botanical extracts like Mugwort into commercial skincare at drugstore prices.
Nevertheless, many small and large online retailers based in the UK, Europe, Korea and Hong Kong specialise in K-Beauty, giving us access to Mugwort skincare that isn’t available among British highstreet shops and the choice of products just keeps growing.