From psychedelic mushrooms triggering a revolution in mental health treatment, to supplements of medicinal mushrooms storming the shelves, to restaurants finally making the humble mushroom the star of their delectable dishes, fungi fever is truly in full swing.
The Treasure That Was Under Our Nose The Whole Time
Although mushrooms have of course been utilized in Traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries, it is only more recently that other parts of the world have cottoned on, and that scientists have begun to study the fabled effects of fungi. It really is an instance of the treasure being under our noses the whole time — and mushrooms really have been overlooked. Dr. Christopher Hobbs, Ph.D, a herbal medicine expert and author told Elle Magazine;
“Mushrooms are delectable, edible, and can have beneficial effects on our mood, cognition, memory, and immunity.”
Mushrooms Make Moves in the Skincare World
They’re pretty much a wellness all-rounder at this point, but there are a few frontiers yet to explore. One that is quickly falling under the spell of mushroom magic is the world of skincare.
One of the original ventures into mushroom skincare (in the Western world at least) was in 2005. Dr. Andrew Weil, integrative medicine practitioner and psychedelic explorer, collaborated with skincare brand Origins on a fungi-filled lotion. The formula became a best-seller, and other brands began to take note, releasing serums, facemasks, cosmetics, and more. The popularity of such products was boosted, in part, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people were drawn to a more holistic approach to wellness — natural rather than chemical — listening to your body was in, and ‘quick fixes’ were out.
How do Mushrooms Benefit the Skin?
So, how do mushrooms actually benefit your skin? Well, a number of recent studies have racked up some impressive data;
- A 2016 study found that mushrooms helped to fight aging, corrected hyperpigmentation, and could decrease the severity of inflammatory skin diseases.
- In a 2017 study, scientists found that mushrooms contained unusually high levels of two antioxidants that are essential to boost health and fight aging.
- A 2019 study found that mushrooms could be especially good for those with sensitive skin — a beta-glucan they contain is effective at strengthening the skin barrier.
Additionally, when incorporated into a skincare routine, mushrooms are said to;
- Brighten the skin
- Boost collagen production
- Provide antioxidant protection
- Have anti-aging benefits
- Balance PH levels
- Hydrate the skin
- Contain anti-inflammatory properties
- Reduce breakouts
- Provide Vitamin D
Another reason mushrooms are becoming so popular as a skincare ingredient is that they have adaptogenic properties. You may have heard of adaptogens — they are another rising star in the wellness world. Adaptogens are plants or herbs that are said to have the ability to help our body resist stress — whether biological, chemical or physical. This stress management helps to bring our bodies and minds back into balance. Although a relatively new research area proponents say that adaptogens, when applied to skin, can help it recover from environmental stressors such as pollution, toxins and UV radiation.
Which Mushrooms are the Skincare Stars?
Cordyceps is traditionally regarded as an energy and stamina boosting mushroom. However, its growing reputation in skincare is just as buzzy. This fungi is high in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. It can boost collagen and elastin production, reduce dark spots and hydrate the skin. A few studies have also found the cordyceps may offer protection from UV rays, up to SPF 25.
The reishi mushroom has historically been known as the mushroom of “longevity.” For the skin they are said to be effective in soothing inflammation, improving the skin barrier and combatting signs of aging. Containing powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds they can soothe inflammation and redness when applied as an ingredient in skincare products. They have also been studied to increase collagen production.
Turkey Tail Mushroom:
The Trametes Versicolor mushroom, more commonly known as the ‘turkey tail’ is known to be a powerful immune booster. They have high antioxidant levels and contain the compound polysaccharide K, which reduces inflammation and stimulates the immune system. This means better blood flow and improved cellular DNA, which in turn means younger-looking skin.
The chaga mushroom is thought to be one of the most antioxidant-rich foods out there. Due to this it is one of the most popular varieties of mushroom used in the beauty industry today. Thanks to their ability to neutralize free radicals and anti-inflammatory properties they can benefit skin by improving nutrient delivery and evening tone.
Also known as silver ear or snow mushroom, tremella mushrooms have series hydration capabilities. A tremella mushroom can retain up to 500 times its weight in water. This makes it highly effective when used in products for parched skin. It provides lasting hydration, plumping of the skin and can promote cell growth, which means wounds heal faster.
The tasty shiitake mushroom contains a range of beauty benefits. They contain high levels of kojic acid, which can fade dark spots and acne scars, brighten the skin and treat hyperpigmentation. Due to this, this ingredient is much sought after in skincare products aiming to even the skin tone.
How Can I Add Mushrooms To My Skincare Routine?
There are many skincare products out there that are wielding the magic of mushrooms. It is best to use products like these that have been dermatologically tested so you know they are safe for skin. You won’t get much benefit from simply rubbing a shiitake mushroom on your face anyway! And remember to always make sure that you read the ingredients and do a patch test incase of allergies — like you would with all cosmetic products.
Today it is possible to take mushroom supplements for energy and immune-boosting benefits, microdose psilocybin mushrooms for our mental health and creativity, eat vitamin-D rich mushroom dishes for dinner, and even use mushrooms to boost our complexions and banish blemishes. It truly is a fungi old world — and we’re happy to live in it!