Why Marshmallow Root Needs to Be In Your Hair- and Skin-Care Routine — and 10 Products to Buy

Dermatologists explain the benefits of the anti-aging ingredient for your skin and hair, plus how to incorporate it into your routine.

Photo: Courtesy of Merchants / AdobeStock

Despite all the strange skin-care ingredients that have popped up over the past few years — like snail mucus, venom, and urine — marshmallow root still managed to elicit surprise. Like…a s'more? On your face? It just felt odd, but there's a reason why beauty brands can't stop adding the ingredient to their formulas.

What Is Marshmallow Root?

Marshmallow root is the fibrous husk of the Althea or marshmallow plant. Used for centuries as an all-natural remedy for coughs, it "contains a variety of ingredients, such as flavonoids and polysaccharides, that promote skin health," according to Stacy Chimento, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist of Riverchase Dermatologyin Miami.

These beneficial ingredients are primarily found in the root of the plant, which has a high concentration of mucilage, a gummy, sap-like substance that acts as nature's moisturizer. Naturally created by plants, mucilage is chock full of antioxidants. (P.S. here's why you want skin-care products with antioxidants.)

The Skin Benefits of Marshmallow Root

While the ingredient was originally used in herbal remedies and its namesake confection (later replaced by gelatin), the skin benefits of marshmallow root have made it a sought-after addition for product formulas. Dr. Chimento says that it not only "helps hydrate and soothe irritated skin," but there's also proof that "topical application may help with skin damage from UV radiation and eczema."

Of course, Dr. Chimento warns that marshmallow root should never replace SPF just because it can help heal UV damage. However, its anti-inflammatory properties make it a great pick for those with acne, rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, or furunculosis. (BTW, these are the editor-approved sunscreens to use instead.)

Plus, the ingredient helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles in more delicate areas, like under the eyes. "The under-eye area is thinner than the rest of the face, and dehydration is more evident," says Dr. Chimento. She suggests using marshmallow root extract to hydrate it, which helps plump the skin and make fine lines less apparent.

The Benefits of Marshmallow Root for Hair

In addition to being beneficial for the skin, marshmallow root can help your hair, thanks to its humectant properties (aka its ability to hold in moisture). New York-based board-certified dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., reveals the ingredient adds a "good deal of hydration" to the strands due to the mucilage is contains.

"Mucilage is basically a plant-based carbohydrate found in the root of the plant which draws water into the hair," explains Dr. Mariwalla. "It is very well tolerated and can be used for hair and skin as a nourishing moisturizer [and/or] conditioner."

While the ingredient is less common in hair care than it is in skin care, products like SheaMoisture's Silicone-Free Conditioner (Buy It, $11, amazon.com) use the extract's moisturizing properties to give the formula a hydrating boost.

The Best Products with Marshmallow Root

Keep scrolling to discover the best products with marshmallow root, including Dr. Chimento's recommendations and a handful of customer favorites.

01 of 10

Best Cleanser: Mario Badescu's Skin Care Glycolic Foaming Cleanser

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This cleanser has more than 3,100 fans on Amazon, and it's also one of Chimento's recommended products. She loves that foaming wash works for a variety of skin types, addresses hyperpigmentation, refines pores, and reduces redness with its combination of calming and exfoliating ingredients. Plus, the 6-ounce bottle "lasts forever," according to shoppers.

02 of 10

Best Eye Patches: Peter Thomas Roth Hyaluronic Cloud Hydra Gel Eye Patches

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Not only do these cooling patches feel amazing on puffy under-eyes, but Dr. Chimento says they'll actually make a difference. A 15-minute application of the patches — which contain marshmallow root extract, caffeine, and hyaluronic acid — locks in moisture to reduce the appearance of fine lines and dark circles by minimizing puffiness. Gentle enough to use daily, each pack comes with 60 patches.

03 of 10

Best Face Cream: Naturopathica Marshmallow and Microalgae Sensitivity Soothing Cream

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This cream is so rich, you can actually feel it on your skin when you wake up in the morning. A great option for those who are experiencing sun damage, it contains microalgae, which works alongside marshmallow root to calm and nourish skin. One reviewer wrote the cream instantly soothed their skin after a bad reaction to an abrasive exfoliant, and it helped visibly reduce redness about 10 to 15 minutes after application.

04 of 10

Best Eye Cream: Dr. Hauschka Daily Hydrating Eye Cream

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Even Chimento raved about how wonderful marshmallow root is when used under the eyes, and this cream is no exception. The cream contains marshmallow leaf extract — rather than root — but it boasts the same anti-inflammatory properties. Additional hydrating ingredients like shea butter, beeswax, and jojoba oil are great for tiny wrinkles, which can be accentuated by dryness.

"This cream felt *so* good — instantly nourishing and immediately the skin around my eyes felt and looked better," raved a shopper. "I haven't had instant results like that with anything I've tried."

05 of 10

Best Serum: Naturopathica Marshmallow and Ceramide Sensitivity Soothing Serum

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This serum feels thick and milky when you first applied, but it then quickly absorbs into the skin. Similar to the brand's face cream, it uses marshmallow and microalgae to calm any inflammation or redness, while ceramides add in moisture and reduce irritation. It's a super gentle formula but soothes skin in a major way.

"After two weeks of daily use, I can say that the constant redness and flaky skin I have on part of my face has completely disappeared," wrote a customer on the brand's site. "Not even prescriptions and doctor recommended products have managed that."

06 of 10

Best Mask: Bliss Mighty Marshmallow Mask

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The closest thing to a fluffy marshmallow on this list, this whipped mask feels like a cloud when applied. In addition to marshmallow root extract, it's packed with vitamin C and olive leaf extract to nourish the skin with antioxidants. Expect a more even skin tone, less discoloration, and a lit-from-within glow from the first 10-minute application. Just ask the more than 1,100 shoppers already obsessed.

07 of 10

Best Body Lotion: Florence by Mills Mirror Magic Illuminating Body Moisturizer

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If you're looking for a summer lotion that will give your skin a bit of shimmer and sheen, this illuminating formula is the way to go. The hydrating cream is packed with marshmallow root extract, mango butter, coconut oil, and chamomile essential water, all of which work together to moisturize and soothe dry skin. Reviewers say the "amazing product" gives skin a natural glow and leaves behind a subtle coconut vanilla scent that screams vacation.

08 of 10

Best for Acne: Epionce Lytic Gel Cleanser

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If you have oily or acne-prone skin, this cleanser is about to become your new go-to for removing impurities. According to the brand, Epionce's signature EpiK complex reduces oil production and balances the skin's pH — which helps prevent breakouts — while additions like menthol, marshmallow root, and willow bark reduce existing inflammation.

"It helps prevent breakouts but doesn't dry out my skin," wrote one reviewer. "I like the way it feels a little tingly when I use it — feel fresh and clean, but not dry and irritated after use."

09 of 10

Best for Dryness: Kinship Supermello Hydrating Gel-Cream Moisturizer

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Get softer skin while reducing redness with this soothing moisturizer. It contains hyaluronic acid, coconut water, and kinbiome, which the brand describes as its proprietary probiotic ingredient that supports clear skin and a stronger skin barrier.

One reviewer wrote: "My husband and I both have been using this moisturizer for about 2 weeks, and while it's been a short period of time, we have both seen excellent results. I have acne-prone skin and hyperpigmentation. Magically, my breakouts have slowed down, and my redness from the breakouts is diminished."

10 of 10

Best for Plumping: Fourth Ray Beauty Strawberry Face Milk

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Fourth Ray Beauty

This lightweight serum is packed with marshmallow root, lotus flower, and strawberry seed oil — all of which pack a moisture-filled and redness-reducing punch. While ingredients like argan make this a poor pick for anyone with cystic acne, rosacea, or eczema, according to Connecticut-based dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D., the formula is still lightweight enough for oily skin and nourishing enough for dry skin.

"It sinks right in and makes your skin glow," wrote one reviewer. "It immediately helps your skin look plump and bright without that overly shiny 'glass skin' look. You just look healthy, which is what I love."

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