Mugwort: Its Benefits & Uses

Mugwort: Its Benefits & Uses


Mugwort’s benefits for our skin has been celebrated by Korean skincare brands, especially for those with acne-prone or dehydrated skin. It has become a very popular Korean skincare ingredient, as it is suitable for many skin types and skin concerns.

Not only does it sound like a herb from Harry Potter, but Mugwort also has a lot of benefits for the body and the skin. I use Mugwort Essence and Mugwort Mask and its anti-inflammation properties have really improved the redness in my acne-prone skin. 

What’s included in this article:

  • What Mugwort is used for
  • What is mugwort and where does it grow?
    • How to identify mugwortShould I use Mugwort in my skincare?
  • What are the benefits of mugwort?
  • Benefits for skin:
    • Acne and acne-prone skin
    • Oily/combination skin
    • Dry/dehydrated skin
    • Sensitive skin
  • What does science say about the effectiveness of mugwort?
  • What to consider before getting a mugwort product: Allergy
  • Conclusion

What it is used for:

  • Mugwort is a plant that has been used in traditional medicine for millennia all over the world and people typically take it as tea and or they use it in skincare. 🍵
  • Mugwort is now well-loved in Korean beauty for its anti-inflammation and skin-soothing properties. It is particularly good for dry and acne-prone skin as it can effectively hydrate and reduce redness.
  • When taken orally, mugwort can aid with digestive disorders, irregular menstruation, and high blood pressure.

What is mugwort and where does it grow?

  • Mugwort is a leafy herbal plant that grows wild in the Northern Hemisphere’s warmer regions and is native to Europe, Asia, and North Africa.
  • It grows commonly in many parts of the world and my friend’s parents and many other people in India grow mugwort in their gardens, as it’s both easy to grow and extremely healthful. 
  • It is native to Korea, where it was once found growing in the wild. Mugwort is being grown in Korea because lots of Korean skincare brands use it in their products.
  • The young shoots, tender leaves and berries are all edible. In Korean cuisine, the shoots and leaves are cooked and seasoned, while the berries can be added to alcohol. 🍸

How to identify mugwort

  • Mugwort has dark-green leaves that look similar to chrysanthemum leaves. The leaves are green on the top and are silvery-white underneath and it has a sage-like smell. 
  • Skincare made from mugwort frequently has a herbal smell.

Should I use Mugwort in my skincare?

Also known as artemisia, Mugwort’s potent herbal effects make it ideal for sensitive, acne-prone, and dry skin. The naturally occurring Vitamin E and other antioxidants help to protect, nourish, and moisturize the skin.

Antioxidants are essential to combat the effects of skin ageing by helping to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Overall, mugwort has amazing benefits for the skin. It’s no wonder it is so popular with Korean women.

One of the best ways to include Mugwort into your skincare routine is to use Mugwort Essence or Mask. My review of the I’m From Mugwort Mask.

What are the benefits of mugwort for the skin?

  • Anti-bacterial (acne-fighting!): As someone with acne-prone skin and hormonal acne, mugwort’s ability to help treat breakouts gently but effectively is one of the most important benefits of mugwort for me. While the magic of mugwort is unique, many experts think that it shares many characteristics with another powerful antibacterial ingredient, tea tree oil. It destroys bacteria and prevents breakouts. 
  • Relieve inflammation: Mugwort is very effective at reducing redness and soothing inflammation. It is a fantastic ingredient to use if your skin has become overly sensitised and dry (both classic symptoms of a damaged skin barrier).
  • Anti-irritation: It relieves skin irritations caused by bug bites, allergic reactions, or even heat rash.
  • Super hydration: The mugwort plant also has a lot of vitamin E, which can help to hydrate and nourish dry and dehydrated skin. Dry, flaky skin might be a thing of the past if you use mugwort products on a daily basis such as the I’m From Mugwort Essence. Check out my review of this here. 
  • Treat eczema: Dermatologist Rachel Nazarian says that Mugwort is a suitable treatment for skin conditions such as eczema (or atopic dermatitis) and psoriasis.

What skin type is Mugwort suitable for?

Why is there so much hype around Mugwort for acne/acne-prone skin types? 

Mugwort’s amazing ability to protect the skin barrier, the anti-inflammation and anti-bacterial effects make Mugwort the ideal for people with acne-prone skin like mine and also when you have active pimples. 

According to Dermatologist Nazarian, clinical research on mugwort for acne has yet to be completed. Studies have found that Mugwort can reduce inflammation and can even kill microorganisms/bacteria. As Dermatologist Nazarian points out, that potent combination has the ability to treat breakouts and in particular red bumps and cysts. I have found that it’s very effective in helping to reduce the redness and severity of my cystic and hormonal acne. 

I'm From Mugwort Mask
Honest review of this popular I’m From Mugwort Mask.

Is mugwort suitable for oily/combination skin?

As someone with combination skin, I love using Mugwort. Since using Mugwort Essence in my skincare routine, I have found that my skin is less oily. However, this might be because my skin is more hydrated and my skin is not compensating for dehydration by excessively producing oil. 

Therefore I am not sure whether it’s the effect of the mugwort, or it’s adding more hydration-focused products in my routine. Either way, I’m glad my T-zone is not as oily as it once was and I recommend it to anyone with combination or oily skin.

What about non-oily skin types?

Mugwort for dry or dehydrated skin: 

Absolutely! I have found that Mugwort products are generally very effective at hydrating the skin. This makes Korean mugwort skincare products a “must-try” for anyone with dry, irritated skin or those who have red patchy skin. Mugwort can really help with calming the redness.  

What about mugwort for sensitive skin? 

Generally, I would recommend mugwort as a great ingredient for people with sensitive skin due to its soothing benefits. However, it really depends on the formulation of the mugwort product itself and whether you are sensitive to certain ingredients. 

Of the mugwort products I have tried, they usually do not contain essential oils or many irritating ingredients which makes them good for sensitive skin. If this is the first time you are trying Korean skincare, mugwort products are a good place to start.  

What does science say about the effectiveness of mugwort?

  1. According to one scientific investigation, it found that a mugwort and methol lotion reduced itching caused by hypertrophic scars from severe burns. I couldn’t find many other studies that tested the effects of mugwort on the skin so there’s not a great deal of evidence of what mugwort does in skincare. Cosmetics studies are typically funded by huge companies like Lóreal. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have any effects, it’s that there aren’t enough studies to show one way or another.
    Source: Ogawa (2007) Effectiveness of mugwort lotion for the treatment of post-burn hypertrophic scars
  2. A groundbreaking study showed that mugwort extract was able to inhibit the growth activity of human cancer cells. It has been shown in a variety of human cancer cells including those in the breast, lung, pancreas and prostate tissues.
    Source: Somaweera (2013). Ethanolic extracts of California mugwort (Artemisia douglasiana Besser) are cytotoxic against normal and cancerous human cells 

What to consider before getting a mugwort product: Allergy

The Celery-Carrot-Mugwort-Spice Syndrome (that is the real medical term!):
People who are allergic to celery, birch, or wild carrot should avoid mugwort, as it has been linked to a syndrome known as “celery-carrot-mugwort-spice syndrome.”

A 2008 study found:  

  • 87% of patients who were allergic to celery also tested positive to mugwort pollen sensitization (by performing a skin test).
    Source: Wüthrich B, Hofer T. Food allergy: the celery-mugwort-spice syndrome. Association with mango allergy? 
  • The study also found that 52% of those allergic to carrots tested positive for mugwort allergies
  • 26% of the participants who were hypersensitive/allergic to caraway seeds were also allergic to mugwort.
  • Less prevalent allergies with mugwort to other spices and herbs, including anise, fennel, and paprika.
  • Mugwort pollen may also cause allergic reactions in those who are allergic to:
    Sage (and other plants in the Artemisia genus): olives, peaches, kiwi, royal jelly, hazelnuts, honey, mustard.


Mugwort is a very popular Korean skincare ingredient and it’s easy to understand why. The skincare products that contain Mugwort tend to be hydrating and soothing for the skin. All skin types can benefit from increased hydration.

Since adding Mugwort Essence and Mugwort Mask products into my routine, it has helped to lessen the redness around my nose. Overall, my skin feels hydrated and it’s nice to incorporate an ingredient into my routine that is gentle but effective.

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