What is Milk Thistle? Revealing the mysteries of this anti-aging ally

How moisturizing Milk Thistle can help your skin fight the signs of aging

Milk thistle

Nature’s gifts often come in prickly packages, and that certainly rings true for Milk Thistle. The tall spindly shoots that come up from the ground are covered in splintery little thorns that help keep predators at bay. Blooms are pinkish-purple, resembling dandelion petals with sharp points that mimic their stems. 


Though it might not be suited for your kitchen table flower arrangements, Milk Thistle plants are hiding something pretty spectacular behind their threatening facade. In fact, the ancient Romans recognized their detoxifying benefits early on. Milk Thistle was used to counteract mushroom poisoning and functioned as a cure for an overworked liver…remember that Roman cities weren’t known for their clean water. Wine was a more sanitary source of everyday hydration. Thankfully, Milk Thistle was there to help the liver cope. 


Milk Thistle contains a bio-flavanoid complex called silymarin. This is the active compound that gives the plant such an abundance of health benefits. The research into its skincare benefits is just now coming into focus, and cutting-edge research is helping us understand the numerous benefits this ancient ailment has to offer us in the modern era. 

Among those benefits, Milk Thistle boasts both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Topically, it’s a calming ingredient that helps replenish damaged skin while simultaneously relieving discomfort and evening skin tone. 

Here’s what the science shows us:

  • It helps calm skin conditions 

Research shows that Milk Thistle demonstrates anti-inflammatory properties, beneficial for anyone with irritated skin. For people with skin conditions like acne, rosacea, and dermatitis, it’s safe and beneficial to use, helping provide relief from irritation and inflammation.  

We spread the benefits of Milk Thistle quite literally through our Immunity Moisturizer, an ultra-hydrating daily moisturizer that glides on weightlessly. Milk Thistle is a key ingredient, making it ideal for those who need soothing relief without the risk of additional irritation. 

  • Slows the signs of aging

After age 30, our skin begins to change. We notice a less bouncy, supple quality as a result of breakdowns in skin cell “bridges”. These bridges are held together with natural sugars and proteins. When they hold tight, our skin has a bounce to it. When they break down, skin loses that youthful quality. This process is called glycation, and as we age, our skin undergoes more and more of this cell bridge breakdown. Research shows that Milk Thistle is naturally anti-glycation, meaning it inhibits the breakdown of these cell bridges. 

  • Offers antioxidant protection
black woman enjoying the sunshine

Sun protection in your skincare routine is a must, not only to prevent exposure to harmful UV rays but also to delay the visible effects of aging. But we can and should be doing more than simply slathering on SPF. That’s where the free-radical fighting benefits of Milk Thistle come into play. Silymarin, the active ingredient in the flower, has been shown in studies to help protect the skin’s surface from photoaging caused by the sun. Applied topically, it helps reduce oxidative stress caused by the sun and environmental exposure. 

  • Evens out skin tone
uneven skin tone

Another common side-effect of aging is a slight yellowing of the skin tone. There’s also a skin condition called melasma that results in brown and gray spotting on the face, a result of the overproduction of melatonin. It’s a common skin condition among pregnant women as hormones fluctuate. Milk Thistle has been shown to help even out these unsightly patches, gently fading the depth of color caused by the increased melatonin production. 

There’s nothing better than finding such powerful skincare allies tucked into the mysterious folds of nature. Who would have thought that a plant could offer so many diverse benefits? It’s clear today that the Romans certainly knew how to harness the power of nature. At Layers, we’re taking it to the next level by making sure that Milk Thistle is utilized in our skincare collection.