At first glance, they look just like slightly oversized red raisins. Or tiny grape tomatoes. The chances are high that you’ve spotted them at your favorite acai bowl joint – where they’re available as a topping for a dollar more. Do you know what “they” are yet?
That’s right: Goji Berries! These chewy, sweet-tart berries have quickly risen in rank amongst other favorite superfoods, arguably surpassing even acai itself and chia seeds. And there's a good reason for it; Goji Berries are absolute show-offs in terms of nutrient content. They’re rich in a slew of micronutrients like Vitamin A, Vitamin C, and Carotenoids (including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, and lutein) (1).
As such, one can’t help but wonder … “Could Goji Berries be beneficial for skin health?”
Spoiler alert: yes. So, rounded here is everything you need to know about Goji Berries’ benefits for the skin, along with ideas of how you could incorporate these reddish, nutrient-dense gems into your skincare regimen.
What are Goji Berries?
Goji Berries are indigenous to Asia and grow on small, thorny shrubs. Like your tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, and eggplant, these bright red-orange berries belong to the nightshade family.
While the berries may appear like a "fresh-faced star" in the superfoods category, the truth is that they've long been used as a central ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine – where they're said to slow aging, maintain eye health, and strengthen the liver, kidneys, and lungs (2, 3).
And guess what? Modern science has not only backed these claims up but has also uncovered the "why" behind Goji Berries' health benefits. It all comes down to the sheer quantity (and variety) of antioxidants, from Vitamin C to Vitamin A to a myriad of carotenoids, found within the berries.
A 2015 chemical analysis found Goji Berries to comprise 20.8% antioxidant activity – significantly higher than either moisture or fiber content (4).
Benefits of Goji Berry for Skin
Ooh, antioxidants? Doesn’t that mean that the Goji Berry is great for the skin? Yes, it does!
#1: Protects the skin from oxidative damage
Free radicals, at their core, are unstable molecules that your skin encounters daily. They can result from a myriad of environmental factors, from UV rays to blue light (due to excessive screen time) to air pollution.
As they’re missing an electron, free radicals are in a constant, frantic search to bind with another atom or molecule to stabilize themselves. Ultimately, this process damages healthy skin cells, like collagen-producing fibroblasts, manifesting as wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and even sagging (5). And the name of this process? Oxidative damage.
This is where the antioxidants found in Goji Berries come in. Just so you know: antioxidants are basically "free radical fighters". They essentially donate electrons to neutralize free radicals or stop them from forming in the first place (without turning into free radicals themselves!)
That means the destructive cycle stops with them. But how does that translate into how your skin looks – and feels?
We could turn to studies for answers. First, as mentioned earlier, Goji Berries contain high amounts of Vitamin A (i.e., retinol). According to research, topical Vitamin A has been shown time and again to minimize fine wrinkles, make skin appear visibly smoother, and reduce hyperpigmentation (6).
The same goes for Vitamin C, which Goji Berries have plenty of as well. According to a 2017 review published in Nutrients, the topical application of Vitamin C may result in an overall tightening effect on the skin – making fine lines and wrinkles less noticeable (7).
And yet another antioxidant you can find in Goji Berries? It's a type of carotenoid called zeaxanthin. A little background: carotenoids are pigments that produce bright yellow, red, and orange colors in plants, vegetables, and fruits. Now, back to goji berry's zeaxanthin content – and its benefits for the skin.
Well, this 2016 study concluded that the combination of a zeaxanthin-based supplement plus a topical formulation produced superior improvements in facial lines and wrinkles compared to either placebo or dietary supplement alone (8).
#2: Promotes collagen production in the skin
Collagen is a key player in maintaining resilient, youthful, and elastic skin.
But as you age, your body’s collagen production decreases by approximately 1% yearly after maturity, starting in your early 20s (9). This contributes to sagging and the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines.
Don’t despair just yet. Owing to its high Vitamin A and Vitamin C content, Goji Berries could help reverse (or, at the very least) slow down collagen depletion in your skin.
According to research, topical Vitamin A (and its derivatives, like retinol) could stimulate increased collagen production in your skin by encouraging existing fibroblasts to synthesize more of the structural protein and increasing the count of the former (10). In other words: you’d be well on your way to achieving the bouncy, youthful complexion of your dreams.
What about the Vitamin C found in Goji Berries? How does it boost Collagen in the skin?
Here’s the answer: Vitamin C is the essential cofactor for the 2 enzymes – prolyl hydroxylase (which stabilizes the collagen molecule) and lysyl hydroxylase (which provides structural strength) – required for collagen synthesis (11). So essentially, you can think of Vitamin C as a "raw ingredient" your body needs to produce collagen.
So, the more “raw ingredients” you provide your body, the more collagen it’ll make.
Research supports this line of reasoning. For example, numerous studies have found that the use of Vitamin C in topical applications for at least 12 weeks helped increase the production of collagen, in turn, resulting in notable decreases in skin wrinkling (12, 13, 14).
#3: Calms inflammation and hydrates the skin
Thought we were done discussing the benefits of Goji Berries for the skin? Well, not quite.
In addition to their impressive antioxidants content, these superfood berries also contain a compound called betaine – a type of amino acid. Betaine is mainly known for its anti-inflammation properties (it inhibits a major signaling pathway for the typical inflammatory response); this means it could prove beneficial for anyone dealing with easily irritated or chronically inflamed skin (e.g., eczema and inflammatory acne) (15).
Another plus point of betaine? It also serves as an osmolyte that could keep your skin well-hydrated. Betaine may even have a higher water-binding capacity than glycerin, one of the most commonly used humectants found in moisturizers and lotions (16).
To summarize: Goji Berries could calm inflammation and help your skin maintain its moisture content because of their betaine content.
Side Effects of Goji Berry
Skincare products formulated with Goji Berries aren't known to cause side effects. Still, as with any new addition to your regimen, do a patch test. Put a small amount of the product on the inside of your arm overnight. If you have no reaction (e.g., redness, itching, peeling) in the morning, it is safe to apply it to your face.
How to Use Goji Berry for Skin
You can find Goji Berries in many types of skincare products these days – from cleansers to toners to moisturizers. So, you can decide where you'd like to slot them into your existing routine.
A word of caution: based on Goji Berries’ high concentration of Vitamin A and Vitamin C, you may want to avoid pairing them with AHAs, BHAs, and benzoyl peroxide (17). Those compounds could destabilize the “skincare actives” found in goji berries, decreasing the effectiveness of your product.
But other than those, Goji Berries work well with plenty of skincare ingredients (e.g., Hyaluronic Acid, Peptides, and CoQ10).
Still feeling a little hesitant? Don’t worry. Terrakai Skin products make it ridiculously easy for you to build Goji Berries into your routine for great skin that's plump, bouncy, and all-around radiant:
- Cleanser: Remove your makeup and wash your face with a non-stripping cleanser, like our Antioxidant + Rosehip Milky Cleanser (includes goji berries in its formulation!)
- Toner: Spritz on your toner of choice after cleansing. For a refreshing, hydrating skin boost, give our Refreshing Goji + Mountain Pepper Berry Mist a go.
- Serum: Massage a few drops of serum (e.g., our goji berry-infused Brighter Days Ahead Mountain Pepper Berry C-Serum) into your face.
- Eye cream: Apply your eye cream before you slather on your choice of creams and oils. If you’re looking for one that’ll nourish and brighten the delicate eye area, look no further than our Age Defying Lemon Aspen Botanical Eye Cream.
- Moisturizer: Use Balancing Guava + Mountain Pepper Berry Moisturizer during the daytime, then pamper your skin with our I Woke Up Like This Vitamin C + Antioxidant Overnight Cream as you catch your beauty sleep. Both moisturizers contain goji berries.
- Sunscreen (daytime): Sunscreen acts as a shield against the outside world (so you don’t end up applying all those products on your face for nothing).
Goji Berry for Skin FAQ’s
Are Goji Berries good for wrinkles?
Goji Berries are rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C – both vitamins capable of boosting collagen production in the skin. So, yes, Goji Berries are good for wrinkles!
Do Goji Berries help with acne?
Yes, the betaine found in Goji Berries is known to exert anti-inflammatory properties, which could help combat acne.
Wolfberry vs. Goji Berry: what’s the difference?
Here’s an interesting fact: they’re the same thing! Goji Berries are also called “Wolfberries”.
Can you use Goji Berries for skin whitening?
Not likely. Goji Berries could help reduce skin hyperpigmentation (i.e., fading acne scars, sunspots, and discolorations) – but wouldn’t necessarily “whiten” the skin.