Roasted, fried, brewed, or sautéed, mushrooms have always been the stuff of culinary delight. And a way of exploring alternate realities (remind me to tell you of my Amsterdam’ experiences’ one day).
And now, the beauty industry introduces its newest infatuation: Mushrooms for skincare — or, better put, mushroom skin benefits.
Welcome to the era of the shroom boom — in beauty products!
Indeed, very few natural ingredients are as flexible and potent as the humble mushroom. And its latest role is to present you with perfectly flawless, blemish-free, pore-less skin, underscoring the benefits of mushrooms for skin health.
Mushrooms, the miraculous secret of skincare? You mean mushroom-infused serums and mushroom facial creams? Absolutely. Origins has formulated an entire range around the benefits of mushrooms for skin, led by Dr. Andrew Weil, and other skincare brands are quickly following suit.
Although we may perceive it as a modern innovation, mushrooms have been a skincare staple since as far back as the 3rd century BC, hinting at the enduring benefits of mushrooms for skin.
What makes this fungus so extraordinary? Which of its 15,000+ varieties should you incorporate into your skincare routine to reap the best mushroom skin benefits?
Take a look at the different varieties of mushrooms and how they fit into a skincare routine.
Shiitake: The dark spots busting mushroom
Possibly the most recognizable varietals, these ‘umbrella caps’ are the second most popular and third most widely cultivated edible mushrooms worldwide.
(You will find these tossed into pasta and stir-fries, smoky in flavor and rich on the palate.)
Shiitake mushrooms for skincare
Shiitake mushrooms provide a dense source of kojic acid, a natural alternative to hydroquinone that acts as a natural skin lightener, demonstrating the skin-brightening benefits of mushrooms. It assists in fading all kinds of hyperpigmentation, ranging from acne to age spots.
The result? Smoothing out uneven skin tone, including the type that comes from sun damage with daily use.
These medicinal mushrooms also possess anti-inflammatory benefits and are packed with antioxidants that neutralize free radicals and protect your skin against environmental damage, easing skin conditions like acne, eczema, and rosacea — another way mushrooms benefit the skin.
In fact, shiitake is considered an anti-aging mushroom in Japan because it reduces oxidative stress, increases skin elasticity, and guards against premature aging.
Shiitake mushroom for skincare DIY: These mushrooms are easily accessible. Bustle has an excellent DIY shiitake face mask recipe I love on long, lazy nights.
The best shiitake mushroom skincare products (click to buy!): Dermalogica PowerBright Dark Spot Serum, Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield Broad Spectrum SPF 30 / PA+++, Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Dark Spot Serum
Tremella mushroom for skin benefits: The super-moisturizer
Also known as the snow mushroom, snow fungus, snow mushroom, white jelly mushroom, silver ear mushroom, tremella fuciformis, or witch’s butter, Tremella was the favorite of Princess Yang Guifei, one of China’s four great beauties.
She was so beautiful that Emperor Xuanzong of Tang allowed his dynasty to collapse to have her.
Yang Guifei publicly attributed her flawless skin and eternally youthful appearance to the benefits of Tremella mushrooms for skin.
So, yes, that’s one mighty mushroom for overall skin health.
Tremella remains popular in traditional Chinese medicine, even though it’s more commonly found in tropical areas, such as South America, and the Caribbean.
It looks like a loofah, feels like jelly, and grows on the side of trees.
Tremella mushroom’s benefits for skin
Numerous scientific studies have shown that Tremella mushrooms can hold up to 500 times their weight in water, making them comparable to the much-lauded hyaluronic acid for skin hydration, adding to the list of mushroom benefits for skin.
And they have an extra edge: On a molecular level, Tremella’s particles are smaller than hyaluronic acid, so they penetrate the skin more easily. Hello, softer, smoother, plumper skin!
Tremella mushrooms’ skincare benefits also extend to lightening hyperpigmentation, age spots, and old acne scars by inhibiting melanin production.
In fact, according to several scientific studies, tremella mushroom extract is more effective than vitamin C and kojic acid for skin lightening, one of the many benefits of using mushrooms for skin care.
Tremella mushroom for skin DIY: This is not a grind-and-go mushroom. After digging deep into the annals of Chinese culture, I found one DIY recipe for this super-hydrator. And Dr. John Layke sums it up well for our modern world in his post here.
The best tremella mushroom skincare products (click to buy!): Tata Harper Clarifying Moisturizer, Joanna Vargas Euphoria Mask, Kypris Glow Philtre, Moon Juice Beauty Shroom Plump Jelly, TULA Skincare Get Toned Pro-Glycolic 10% Resurfacing Toner, Dermalogica Hydro Masque Exfoliant, Yina Essential Mist
Reishi mushroom benefits: Anti-stress, anti-inflammatory, and detox
Once reserved only for emperors and empresses, this is the oldest species of mushrooms, and reishi mushroom extract has been used in the Far East for over 2,000 years.
The earliest written mention dates from 221 BC, when Taoist monks used it in China.
Its Chinese name — Ling Zhi — translates as a mushroom of immortality, a clue to its superpowers.
This hard and bitter mushroom (definitely not one for a stir fry or risotto!) comes in various colors, of which red is considered the most medicinal in the beauty world.
Reishi mushrooms grow on decaying hardwood deciduous trees (mostly hemlock) and have become increasingly difficult to find in the wild. Consequently, they are now primarily cultivated in grow rooms.
Reishi mushroom’s benefits for the skin
Reishi mushroom extracts benefit the skin with their potent beta-glucans. These natural sugars can penetrate multiple layers of skin to help calm dryness and itchiness.
They also contain polysaccharides, which boost the skin barrier and improve its natural ability to retain water. This makes them a powerful moisturizer when used in topical skincare products.
And that’s not all: Reishi mushrooms’ skin benefits continue with their anti-inflammatory properties, which makes them terrific at dealing with acne, abrasions, redness, sunburns, rashes, and stressed skin.
And they have powerful antioxidant properties that counter oxidative damage to help deal with signs of premature aging and skin health, such as the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
These make for a super-ingredient that’s a boon for stressed or sensitive skin, leaving it stronger, smoother, and irritation-free. All while protecting it against environmental stressors such as pollution, bacteria, and other daily damage.
Not bad for a humble fungi, right?
Reishi mushroom for skin DIY: Reishi is difficult to process at home, given its toughness.
The best option is to buy pre-cut slices and steep them in hot water for 10-15 minutes. Then strain out the pieces and apply the liquid on your face, post-cleansing. Say hello to radiant skin!
If you want a more intensive treatment for dry skin, try this DIY face cream from Kristin Collins Jackson.
The best reishi mushroom skincare products (click to buy!): Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Treatment Lotion, Moon Juice Acid Potion Liquid Exfoliator, Youth To The People Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream, Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Soothing Hydra-Mist, MZ Skin Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Serum, Shiseido Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate
Cordyceps mushroom benefits: Skin smoothing superpowers
If you are squeamish, step away NOW — the origins of cordyceps are not exactly pretty.
They are parasites that attach themselves to a caterpillar. This gives them a host of alternate names, including caterpillar fungus, caterpillar mushroom, vegetable caterpillar, golden worm, and Tibetan mushroom.
To the Tibetan harvesters (cordyceps typically grow in the higher altitudes of the Himalayas and Tibetan plateau), this fungus means big money — up to $50,000 per pound, which is a testament to its benefits.
Today, Cordyceps are cultivated on rice, containing the same pharmacological components and medicinal properties as the original wild varietal.
And that may be exactly what you are looking for if the thought of caterpillars leaves you queasy.
Cordyceps mushroom for skincare
Cordyceps are beauty mushrooms containing potent anti-aging compounds whose healing properties help rejuvenate the skin, eliminate dead cells, and improve the appearance of blemishes, wrinkles, and age spots, illustrating yet again the power of mushrooms for the skin.
As skincare ingredients, they also help healthy cells come up to the surface, effectively shaving years off your complexion!
The cordyceps mushrooms for skin DIY: Brew the cordyceps in tea or chew it raw!
The best cordyceps mushroom skincare products (click to buy!): Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Soothing Cream, Dr Dennis Gross Skincare Stress Repair Face Cream, Dermalogica Invisible Physical Defense Sunscreen SPF 30, Pai Tri-Mushroom Super-Soothing Booster
Chaga mushrooms’ skincare benefits: The protective ‘shroom
Chaga grows on birch trees in some of the coldest climates in the world — including Russia, Japan, China, Korea, and Northern America — where winters are beyond harsh and little else survives.
This gives them potent anti-viral properties, which healers have been calling upon for thousands of years.
Chaga mushroom benefits for skin
Chaga mushrooms are not exactly pretty. They look more like lumps of coal than something you would put in your mouth. Or on your skin.
However, they have superb skin-boosting benefits, not the least because of their high melanin content.
Melanin is the compound that determines your skin color and creates a shield against harmful UV rays, underlining the protective mushroom benefits for skin.
Drinking chaga tea is a great way of normalizing the melanin production in your body, giving skin a beautiful glow while acting as an internal layer of protection against the sun.
The Chaga mushrooms for skin DIY: Chaga is commonly brewed into tea. How? Infuse slices in hot water for an hour.
Or you can buy Chaga powder and stir it into hot water, much like coffee.
The best Chaga mushroom skincare products (click to buy!): Dr. Dennis Gross Stress Rescue Super Serum, Moon Juice Chaga Protective Supershroom, Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins Mega-Mushroom Weightless Hydrating Moisturizer, Biophile Shroom Rejuvenating Serum
FAQs on the skincare benefits of mushrooms
These are the most frequently asked questions about mushroom skin benefits. Have a question of your own? Drop it into the comments below and we will get back to you asap.
Is mushroom good for your skin?
Yes, mushrooms are beneficial for the skin due to their rich content of antioxidants, vitamins, and other nutrients. They can offer hydration, reduce inflammation, promote healing, and have anti-aging effects.
Which mushroom is best for skin whitening?
Shiitake mushrooms are known for their skin lightening properties. They contain kojic acid, a natural skin-lightening agent, which can help to brighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots and hyperpigmentation.
Is mushroom good for itchy skin?
Yes, some mushrooms like reishi have anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe itchy skin, reduce inflammation, and help manage conditions like eczema.
Is mushroom good for pimples?
Yes, due to their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties, topical use of mushrooms can help soothe inflamed skin and reduce the occurrence of acne and pimples. Additionally, their hydrating properties can prevent overproduction of oil, a common cause of acne.
How do mushrooms help with skin hydration?
Certain varieties of mushrooms, like the snow mushroom, are known for their ability to hold water, much like hyaluronic acid, keeping skin hydrated and plump.
Are all types of mushrooms beneficial for skincare?
Not all mushrooms offer the same benefits for skincare. Commonly used ones like reishi, shiitake, and snow mushroom have well-documented benefits for skin health.