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What are the adverse effects of topical application of ginger?

Ginger is an ingredient that is used in several cosmetic products. But can it pose a danger to the skin? And what precautions should be taken before using it? Here are some answers to these questions.

Published January 23, 2024, updated on January 26, 2024, by Pauline, Head of Scientific Communication — 4 min read

Ginger, in a nutshell.

Ginger is a rhizome plant native to Asia. Versatile, it has been used for several thousand years in various fields, namely in cooking, medicine, and cosmetics. Today, the use of ginger is widespread around the world and this ingredient is still highly favored, particularly for topical application, due to its numerous benefits for the skin.

  • Antibacterial : Studies have shown that ginger has a bacteriostatic effect against certain Gram-positive bacteria. Therefore, this ingredient can be useful in controlling bacterial populations living on the skin.

  • Anti-inflammatory : the ginger works on several levels to alleviate inflammation. It notably inhibits the activity of pro-inflammatory cytokines and cyclooxygenase, an enzyme that produces prostaglandins, which are chemical mediators of inflammation. Therefore, ginger can be used to soothe itching or certain redness.

  • Antioxidant : By stimulating the activity of certain antioxidant enzymes, ginger protects DNA, proteins, and cells from free radicals, which are responsible for premature aging, as well as pigmentation disorders and melanomas.

  • Prevents skin aging : Molecular modeling studies have predicted the ability of ginger to inhibit the activities of collagenase and elastase, two enzymes responsible for the degradation of collagen and elastin respectively. Ginger thus protects essential proteins for skin flexibility and elasticity, delaying the appearance of wrinkles.

Are there any precautions related to the topical use of ginger?

The topical application of ginger extract or a ginger-based skincare product rarely results in adverse effects (irritation, redness, swelling...). It is recommended for individuals with a food allergy to ginger to exercise caution if they wish to use a cosmetic containing it. Indeed, while a food allergy does not necessarily lead to a cosmetic allergy, it is better to apply the principle of caution. We recommend you seek advice from your primary care physician before applying a product containing ginger if you are allergic to it.

Another point of caution pertains to ginger essential oil. Not recommended for pregnant and/or breastfeeding women and children under three years of age, it can also prove to be irritating, and cause redness and itching. To avoid these discomforts, it is recommended to dilute it to a concentration of 1 - 2% in a vegetable oil.

Finally, as with any cosmetic ingredient, it is advisable to conduct a tolerance test before incorporating ginger into your skincare routine. This is especially true for those with sensitive skin, but this precautionary principle is useful for everyone. To do this, apply a small amount to the inside of your elbow or behind your ear and wait 24 hours. If you observe no reaction, you can continue to use the product.


  • PAZYAR N. Effects of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on skin conditions: A non-quantitative review article. Journal of the Turkish Academy of Dermatology (2013).

  • WAHYUDI S. T. & co. Compounds in Indonesian ginger rhizome extracts and their potential for anti-skin aging based on molecular docking. Cosmetics (2022).


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