Beauty Ingredient Spotlight: Marshmallow Root

beauty ingredient marshmallow

If you told me one day I’d be using beauty products with marshmallow in them, I’d probably laugh in your face (and suddenly crave a smore, let’s be honest). To be clear, it’s actually marshmallow root extract that is the magical ingredient showing up in products from haircare to skincare.

Marshmallow root (also known as Althaea officinalis) is a flowering plant that’s been popular in herbal medicine for centuries. And while there is some great research to show the benefits on the human body, there still is a lot more to be done.

Here’s what I found on the benefits of marshmallow root for your skin and hair, as well as a few products to try containing the all-star ingredient.

Benefits of Marshmallow Root for Skin

  • Reduces skin irritation and inflammation. A 2013 report found that using an ointment containing 20% marshmallow root extract reduced skin irritation (like that from UV damage) by stimulating certain cells that have anti-inflammatory activity. The mucilage of the plant contains antioxidants, and research suggests that it forms a coating over skin to help prevent irritation.
  • Helps with eczema. The same 2013 study above and this more recent one from 2021 suggests that its topical application can help with atopic eczema (and may be a good, safer alternative to steroids).

Benefits of Marshmallow Root for Hair

  • Can help hair growth. This study concluded that marshmallow root extract (and rosemary leaf extract) may provide positive effects on hair growth.
  • Adds hydration. According to New York-based board-certified dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., marshmallow root extract adds a “good deal of hydration” to the strands due to the mucilage (a plant-based carbohydrate that draws water into the hair) it contains.

Best Skincare Products with Marshmallow Root

Paula’s Choice CALM Nourishing Milky Toner – This soothing, milky toner hydrates skin, calms redness, and strengthens the skin barrier to help prevent future sensitivity. Specifically, the marshmallow root extract in this toner helps shield the skin from irritants while providing emollient benefits.

Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser – This foaming cleanser can be used daily to clean the face. Marshmallow extract helps hydrate, soften, and balance the skin without being too harsh.

Best Haircare Products with Marshmallow Root

OUAI Thick Hair Shampoo – This citrus-and-floral-scented shampoo is made for women with thick hair. Containing marshmallow root, it works to soften, moisturize, and detangle the hair.

It’s A 10 Silk Express Miracle Silk Smoothing Balm – I love this brand’s multi-use products (I can use one product vs. 5 to get the same benefits). This one specifically reduces dryness with the help of marshmallow root extract.

Best Makeup Products with Marshmallow Root

Saie Dew Balm Glossy Highlighter – Lots of skin glosses and highlighters can be too sparkly or glittery, but this Saie Dew Balm is an exception. The three finishes add a hint of color while the product itself leaves a dewy, balmy finish. Marshmallow root extra helps calm any visible redness and maintain moisture.

NYX Marshmellow Smoothing Face Primer – This primer went viral on TikTok earlier this year (I think it was this year, but time is a confusing concept lately), and it’s easy to see why. Smoothing marshmallow root extract helps the primer soften skin and extends makeup wear all day.

Bliss Mighty Marshmallow Bright and Radiant Whipped Mask – The list of superstar ingredients in this mask is too long to include all so we’ll just focus on marshmallow root extract, which delivers a surge of hydration to balance skin and prevent dullness and dehydration.

MILK MAKEUP Flex Foundation Stick – Stick foundations can be hard to use for those of us with dry or textured skin. This stick, however, allows the formula to move with your face and never crease or cake thanks to marshmallow root extract. A bonus? It comes in over 30 shades.

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