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How goji berries may benefit the skin

Goji berries don’t just make for a delicious smoothie bowl topping. They may also deliver impressive skincare results.

Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
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Curology Team Avatar
by Curology Team
Updated on Jul 7, 2023 • 6 min read
Medically reviewed by Meredith Hartle, DO
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.

As skincare experts, we’re no strangers to superfoods. We’ve been on the bandwagon for some time now, preaching the benefits of blueberries, avocados, spinach, kale, and chia seeds. Now, there’s a new superstar on the scene: goji berries. 

Goji berries have long been a part of East Asian folk medicine and cuisine and are said to provide a natural approach to treating a wide range of conditions. This traditional ingredient has become more prevalent elsewhere in recent years, and you may have seen it in your favorite smoothie bowl or trail mix.

Now that scientists and medical professionals have better data on the potential health benefits of goji berries, we decided to help investigate what goji berries’ benefits for the skin might be. Here’s what we found. 

What are goji berries?

Goji berries (Lycium barbarum) are native to Asia and are most commonly found in the northwest regions of China. They’ve been used as a supplement and medicinal herb for centuries to potentially increase longevity, benefit organs such as the kidneys and liver, and enhance vision. Goji berries are often used in soups, herbal tea, tinctures, wines, and juices.¹ Tasty and nutritious, they’re often considered a “superfood” due to their high antioxidant, fiber, protein, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C content.

As the tiny red berries become more mainstream in health and wellness communities, they’re becoming easier to find at health food and specialty grocery stores, and you can also buy them online.

goji berry tree

Potential benefits of goji berries for your skin

So, are goji berries good for you? In short, the answer is possibly! These berries have potential health benefits for your entire body. They may enhance your immune system, fight signs of aging and fatigue,² boost eye health, and increase blood cell production (hemopoiesis).³ They may even potentially reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, although more research is still needed. 

The extent of goji berry nutrition is impressive—they’re an excellent source of micronutrients, such as riboflavin and thiamine, as well as minerals, including copper, manganese, magnesium, and selenium. They also contain polysaccharides, carotenoids, and phenolics.⁴ One study of older adults found that drinking four ounces of goji berry juice per day may boost levels of immune cells.⁵

But the powers of goji berries don’t stop there! They may have potential benefits for your skin, too, and if you’re dealing with acne or signs of aging, you might want to take note. Goji berries may have the following skin benefits: 

  • Anti-aging power: Goji berries contain several components that may fight aging, including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, and the amino acid betaine. Emulsified cosmetic formulations containing goji berries may have excellent potential as a topical treatment for aging.⁶

  • Anti-inflammatory agents: Goji berries contain betaine, an amino acid that has shown efficacy as an anti-inflammatory agent.⁷ 

  • Boosted UV protection: Studies show that betaine may reduce photodamage caused by the sun’s UVB rays, and it could help prevent wrinkle formation and collagen damage from the sun.⁸ In another study, mice who drank goji berry juice were better protected from UV radiation-induced skin damage.⁹ Goji berries, however, are no substitute for wearing sunscreen every day

  • Antioxidant properties: Goji berries have high antioxidant potential, which may alleviate oxidative stress and help prevent damage from free radicals.¹⁰

glass bowl dyed red tibetan

How to use goji berries 

Small, red, and tangy-sweet, goji berries are packed full of feel-good stuff. They’re flavorful, add a pop of color to what you’re eating, and boast an impressive list of potential health and skin benefits. So how do you incorporate them into your diet? There are several different ways to use goji berries, including the following: 

  • In supplements: Take goji berry extract in supplements in capsule form (remember to discuss any supplements with your medical provider prior to starting them). You can also look for a superfood multivitamin that contains goji berries.  

  • Raw: Eat raw goji berries on their own as a healthy snack or add them to smoothies, smoothie bowls, granola, or trail mix. You can also use them to whip up some tasty, colorful juice or tea.

  • Dried: Use dried goji berries the same way you use raw goji berries. You can also try adding this fruit to baked goods, such as cookies, cakes, and bread. 

  • Powdered: Goji berries can be found in some superfood powders. They’re easy to toss into smoothies and juices to increase their nutritional value.  

  • In skincare products: There are plenty of topical products containing goji. Creams and serums may offer some of the skincare benefits listed above.

These are just suggestions; everyone is unique. If you’re wondering whether goji berries are right for you and how often you should include them in your diet, there’s no definitive answer. Try speaking with a nutritionist or healthcare professional for guidance if you want to start reaping this superfood's potential health benefits.

Goji berry side effects

Goji berries are generally recognized as a non-toxic food,¹¹ and they certainly seem to have excellent health and skin benefits, but like most other foods, you probably want to avoid consuming them excessively. Like any food, goji berries may cause an allergic reaction in some individuals. They may also interact negatively with your prescriptions, including some medications for blood-thinning.¹² The betaine in goji berries may not be safe for people who are pregnant or nursing.¹³ To be on the safe side, we generally recommend consulting a medical provider or nutritionist before adding new supplements to your routine.

You can trust Curology’s experts

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Although some foods and supplements can help improve your overall skin health, you may save time, effort, and money by consulting a licensed dermatology provider. Medically backed treatment can alleviate specific concerns, such as signs of aging.

Curology was founded in 2014 by board-certified dermatologists, and we believe everyone’s skin is unique. We’re a full-service skincare service offering products made with proven effective ingredients, including those that treat fine lines, wrinkles, and hyperpigmentation (like tretinoin and niacinamide).

Curology is one of the easiest ways to get a skincare consultation. Our experts can help take the guesswork out of your anti-aging skincare routine by providing a custom treatment plan and personalized prescription formula to help you meet your skincare goals. We’ll determine the products your skin needs to help you tackle your skin concerns, and our personalized prescription formulas can include active ingredients such as tretinoin, a topical Vitamin A derivative.

Signing up is easy. Just answer a few questions and snap some selfies to help us get to know your skin better. If Curology is right for you, we’ll pair you with one of our in-house licensed dermatology providers who can help you get started on your skincare journey. 

FAQs

What are goji berries?

Goji berries have been used as a supplement and medicinal herb for centuries to potentially increase longevity, benefit organs such as the kidneys and liver, and enhance vision. Goji berries are often used in soups, herbal tea, tinctures, wines, and juices. Tasty and nutritious, they’re often considered a “superfood” due to their high antioxidant, fiber, protein, iron, vitamin A, and vitamin C content.

Potential benefits of goji berries for your skin?

They may enhance your immune system, fight signs of aging and fatigue, boost eye health, and increase blood cell production (hemopoiesis). They may even potentially reduce your risk of certain types of cancer, although more research is still needed. 

Goji berries may have the following skin benefits: 

  • Anti-aging power: Goji berries contain several components that may fight aging, including beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, flavonoids, and the amino acid betaine.

  • Anti-inflammatory agents: Goji berries contain betaine, an amino acid that has shown efficacy as an anti-inflammatory agent. 

  • Boosted UV protection: Studies show that betaine may reduce photodamage caused by the sun’s UVB rays, and it could help prevent wrinkle formation and collagen damage from the sun.

  • Antioxidant properties: Goji berries have high antioxidant potential, which may alleviate oxidative stress and help prevent damage from free radicals.

How to use goji berries?

Small, red, and tangy-sweet, goji berries are packed full of feel-good stuff. They’re flavorful, add a pop of color to what you’re eating, and boast an impressive list of potential health and skin benefits.

  • In supplements: Take goji berry extract in supplements in capsule form.

  • Raw: Eat raw goji berries on their own as a healthy snack or add them to smoothies, smoothie bowls, granola, or trail mix.

  • Dried: Use dried goji berries the same way you use raw goji berries.

  • Powdered: Goji berries can be found in some superfood powders.

  • In skincare products: There are plenty of topical products containing goji.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. Kulczyński, B., Gramza-Michałowska, A., Goji Berry (Lycium barbarum): Composition and Health Effects – a Review. Pol. J. Food Nutr. Sci. (2016).

  2. Vidović, BB., et al. Health Benefits and Applications of Goji Berries in Functional Food Products Development: A Review. Antioxidants (Basel). (2022).

  3. Ma, ZF., et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. (9 January 2019).

  4. Ma, ZF., et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. Ibid.

  5. Amagase, H., et al. Immunomodulatory effects of a standardized Lycium barbarum fruit juice in Chinese older healthy human subjects. J Med Food. (2009).

  6. Godoy Leite, F., et al. Assessment of an anti-ageing structured cosmetic formulation containing goji berry. Braz. J. Pharm. Sci. (2019).

  7. Ma, ZF., et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. Ibid.

  8. Ma, ZF., et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. Ibid.

  9. Reeve, V., et al. Mice drinking goji berry juice (Lycium barbarum) are protected from UV radiation-induced skin damage via antioxidant pathways. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences. (2010).

  10. Ma, ZF., et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. Ibid.

  11. Vidović, BB., et al. Health Benefits and Applications of Goji Berries in Functional Food Products Development: A Review. Antioxidants (Basel). Ibid.

  12. Ma, ZF., et al. Goji Berries as a Potential Natural Antioxidant Medicine: An Insight into Their Molecular Mechanisms of Action. Oxid Med Cell Longev. Ibid.

  13. Bucheli, P., et al. Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects of Chinese Wolfberry. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. (n.d.).

Meredith Hartle is a board-certified Family Medicine physician at Curology. She earned her medical degree at Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine in Kirksville, MO.

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Results may vary. 

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Meredith Hartle, DO

Meredith Hartle, DO

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