Retin-A, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid – it seems everywhere we turn right now there’s a new beauty buzzword popping up. Ironically, one of 2021’s most in-demand ingredients isn’t exactly known for its external beauty, but rather its ability to divide dinner tables. Yes, we’re talking about the humble mushroom, and there’s an innovative batch of fungi-infused face products on the market that promise to brighten, smooth, hydrate and heal. Here’s everything you need to know.
How long have mushrooms been around?
Mushrooms aren’t exactly a new ingredient – they’ve been used in Chinese medicine and holistic wellness for centuries. It’s only in recent years that they’ve catapulted to the forefront of the beauty industry, though, with an increasing number of skincare brands (think Shiseido, Origins and Ren to name a few) now harnessing their unique powers. “There are believed to be over 10,00 different species of mushrooms, and many of these have been found to be extremely beneficial to our skin for a variety of reasons,” explains skincare expert Lisa Harris.
What are the skincare benefits of mushrooms?
Given than mushrooms are so good for our bodies – research has always been rife that mushrooms can not only boost our immune systems, but they’re a great source of Vitamin D too - it’s no surprise they boast numerous excellent benefits when incorporated into skincare. For starters, ‘shrooms’ powerful antioxidant properties help protect skin from the environment while reducing inflammation, soothing the skin and even treating pigmentation. “Some mushrooms reduce melanin content and inhibit its production, which in turn helps brighten the skin and fade pigmentation” explains Harris. “Others, such as shiitake mushrooms, contain kojic acid which can be used to treat pigmentation topically while lightening the skin.”
Dubbed a ‘hyaluronic acid substitute’, Harris also lauds mushrooms for their hydrating qualities – “some contain polysaccharide which draws moisture to the skin” she explains – while their anti-collagenase properties also stimulate type 3 collagen, keeping the skin firm, looking healthier and less wrinkled, thus helping to reduce ageing.
Which mushrooms should I be using in my skincare?
Not all mushrooms are created equal, and there are currently seven types most commonly associated with beauty and wellness: chaga, reishi, shiitake, tremella, trametes versicolour, cordyceps and coprinus, each with their own distinct benefits. While Harris is an advocate of chaga – “they are extremely beneficial in skincare as chaga mushrooms are rich in antioxidants and contain a lot of melanin which helps to protect the skin from UV damage” – if it’s anti-ageing properties you’re after, look to reishi. Commonly referred to as the ‘mushroom of immortality’, their anti-inflammatory, anti-redness, antioxidant and anti-wrinkle benefits are second to none.
55/Redefined’s pick of the best mushroom-infused beauty products
While you can thank Origins and its partnership with integrative medicine expert Dr Andrew Weil for rebranding mushrooms into a mainstream beauty product with the launch of its Mega Mushroom line in 2005, today mushrooms in skincare are just about everywhere you look.