You might have heard of medicinal mushrooms before, and you might have even taken a medicinal mushroom supplement, but did you know that they can also play a role in your beauty routine? It’s true! Here’s why you’ll want to give your beauty cabinet a mushroom-themed overhaul.
Mushrooms in your bathroom cabinet?
There’s nothing new about humans harnessing the benefits of mushrooms: mushrooms have been used as traditional medicine for thousands of years. And although medicinal mushrooms may be best associated with traditional Chinese medicine, they’ve been used traditionally in many different cultures around the world, for a wide variety of health conditions. In recent years, scientists have started researching the benefits of mushrooms, and they’ve become staple supplements in well-stocked health food stores.
Animal, vegetable, mineral?
None of the above, actually. Mushrooms belong to the “fungi” group, along with yeasts and molds.
Now, mushrooms are poised to be one of the biggest beauty trends in recent years, and it’s no wonder why they’ve made the leap from supplements to skincare. Scientists and innovative cosmetic manufacturers have always looked to the natural world to help inspire them. Research is still in its infancy, and much research is based on animal studies; however, the results are promising, and researchers are encouraged.
These are a few reasons why mushrooms are making their way into skincare and cosmetics.
- Beta-glucans (natural cell wall sugars) found in mushrooms are thought to promote skin health with potential anti-wrinkle activity, wound healing abilities, and moisturizing abilities.
- Mushroom extracts may help accelerate skin turnover rate and repair molecular components that give skin its structure and elasticity.
- Mushroom-based cosmetics may have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties, and might help correct hyperpigmentation too.
Mushrooms of note
Here are some of the most famous mushrooms and fungi in the beauty world.
|Name||A bit about it||Potential benefits or properties|
|Reishi||Reishi is a mushroom that has been used medicinally for more than 2,000 years—particularly in China, Japan, and other Asian countries.||· may improve skin quality and treat skin diseases
· thought to aid in wound healing
· may help reduce skin photoaging
|Chaga is a fungus that grows on trees. It is native to the Northern hemisphere and has a long history of traditional use by Indigenous people.||· reduced UV-induced skin thickening and wrinkle formation
· may help to promote healthy hair growth (and has been traditionally used in Mongolia as shampoo to maintain hair health)
|Cordyceps||Cordyceps is a fungus that grows out of insects. It’s used in traditional Chinese medicine.||· thought to help reduce UV-induced oxidative stress, which may help offer photoprotection and lower the risk of skin cancer
· may help reduce eczema-related skin lesions
|Tremella fuciformis||Also called snow mushroom or snow fungus, tremella is used in traditional Chinese medicine, as well as for food.||· has moisturizing and hydrating properties
· may reduce oxidative stress in the skin
|Trametes versicolor||Also called turkey tail mushroom, Trametes versicolor is found throughout the world and used in traditional Chinese medicine.||· thought to help protect human skin cells against oxidative stress and inflammation
· may help reduce UV damage to the skin
Choosing mushroom beauty products
These days, you can find entire ranges of skincare built around the wonders of mushrooms. Some beauty and personal care products that feature mushrooms include:
- Cleansers, such as micellar waters and cleansing oils
- Toners and facial mists
- Treatment lotions and serums
- Moisturizers, creams, and eye creams
- Exfoliants and scrubs
No matter the product that you choose, ensure that it’s suitable for your skin type. It’s always a smart idea to do a patch test before trying a new skincare product, especially if you’re prone to sensitivity. A dermatologist or skin health expert can help you select a product that’s right for you, and your health care practitioner can offer advice if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have medical conditions.
Women and mushrooms
If mushrooms are magic, women may very well be the magic keepers. According to scientific research, women around the world are responsible for the collecting and processing of mushrooms. They also possess traditional knowledge about mushroom taxonomy, biology, and ecology, and often consider it part of their cultural identity.
It’s estimated that we know and have identified only 10% of the number of mushrooms that exist in the world.
Why take medicinal mushrooms orally?
Medicinal mushrooms are thought to have more than one hundred medicinal functions. Some of the reasons why people take medicinal mushrooms in supplement form include:
- for their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties
- as an adjunct to cancer treatment (under supervision from oncologists)
- for their immune-supportive, antiviral, and antibacterial properties
- as a vitamin D supplement
Before trying a new supplement, check with your health care practitioner to ensure that it’s right for you. Choose a good-quality supplement that uses sustainable sourcing/farming/harvesting methods.