Although mushrooms are a centuries-old staple in traditional Chinese medicine, 2023 has made them a trending mainstream fixture. Even skincare experts have given the ‘shroom recognition for its skin-brightening, moisturizing, and anti-aging properties — it’s no wonder mushrooms are one of the year’s major skincare trends.
Research suggests that mushrooms promote an overall healthier complexion, which is why they’re widely used in various skincare and cosmetic products. Multiple studies have validated the ingredient’s benefits, pointing to things like antioxidant properties and effectiveness in reducing skin inflammation.
We asked Jennifer Chawlek, MD, an NYC-based dermatologist, to explain all the rage about mushroom skincare, including its benefits and spike in relevancy. Anna Chacon, MD, a board-certified dermatologist based in Miami, also chimed in to confirm which skin type reaps the most benefits from mushroom skincare.
How do mushrooms benefit your skin?
Mushrooms have several science-backed benefits and healing effects on the skin. In the skincare world, they can either serve as an extract used in topical skincare products or an edible consumed for better skin health. Certain mushrooms can help reduce skin sensitivities from environmental stressors and improve its resilience and appearance.
“Beta-glucans (e.g., a complex sugar found in mushrooms) have skin hydrating properties that support the skin barrier function and improve redness and irritation,” Chawlek said. “Some variants can also prevent melanin synthesis in the skin and consequently improve uneven pigmentation in the skin.”
Mushrooms can also benefit the skin by:
- Increasing collagen production
- Offering additional antioxidant protection
- Brightening and hydrating the skin
- Promoting anti-aging effects
- Reducing itchiness and inflammation
Chawlek added that the free radical-fighting metabolites in mushrooms play a significant role in their skin-healing properties. “Other studies have corroborated the benefits of mushroom metabolites (beta-glucan, polysaccharides, triterpenes, and polyphenols) on atopic dermatitis, eczema, wound healing, and photoprotection,” Chawlek said.
Different types of mushrooms used in skincare
Most mushroom-powered skincare formulations contain one (or more) of the below ingredients.
|Reishi mushrooms||Anti-aging effects|
|Shiitake mushrooms||Brightens skin and offers inflammation/irritation relief|
|Tremella mushrooms||Moisturizing properties|
|Cordyceps mushrooms||Hydrates and promotes anti-aging|
|Coprinus mushrooms||Combats dry, aging, and inflamed skin|
|Trametes versicolor mushrooms||Powerful antioxidant has anti-inflammatory benefits|
Which skin type benefits most from mushrooms?
All skin types can benefit from the healing effects of mushrooms. However, mushroom-powered skincare products can provide the ultimate moisture boost for dry skin.
Dry skin only gets drier in the colder months, and that reigns especially true during the winter season. The cooler temperatures mixed with declining humidity levels can strip the skin barrier of its natural moisture.
According to Chacon, “The advantages [of mushroom skincare use] are more pronounced for people with dry skin since mushrooms can improve moisture and lessen itching brought on by dry, flaky skin.”
What to look for in a mushroom skincare product
When deciding on a mushroom skincare line to add to your regimen, Chawlek suggested choosing strains based on targeted skin concerns at the present moment. The formula’s concentration of mushroom extract also matters, along with the additional ingredients blended with the extract.
“Ideally, you want a product that has [just a] few ingredients, predominantly the mushroom extract combined with other antioxidants and ingredients that support the skin barrier function. The addition of other antioxidants may boost the effectiveness of the product,” she said.
The “shroom boom” in skincare: a growing obsession
Mushrooms are having a major moment across multiple industries. The skincare market has especially capitalized on its benefits with the addition of more mushroom-powered skincare lines.
“There has been increasing media attention around toxic cosmetic ingredients over the years, and this has increased the public’s desire for clean, natural, and sustainable cosmetic and beauty products,” Chawlek said. “The demand for more natural skincare products has led to greater research around the therapeutic properties of botanicals and fungi.”
The renaissance of this fungal phenomenon is a beautiful thing to see, and considering all of its skin health benefits, we hope this motivates you to incorporate more mushroom products to your skincare routine.