The Humble Mushroom Is A New Ally In The Battle Against Aging Of Skin

Damir Regoc

It’s Time For Mushrooms to Step Up Their Game And Help With Our Skincare

The latest and hottest trend in the skincare niche is coming from an unexpected place: the deep, misty forest floor. Who would’ve thought? 

Under the moist leafy coverage, on the ground under the green forests canopy, lays our new ally in the battle against aging of the skin. It’s the humble mushroom. Let’s learn more about it. 

In the very long list of notable, natural skin-care ingredients, flowers and plant seed oils usually reign supreme as the most covetable. Understandable, considering that a formula brimming with, say, jasmine water and prickly pear seed oil sound just fabulous. The thing is just easily marketable. 

But many times, with skincare, it’s not the prettiest plants that have the greatest benefits. In fact, one of the most in-demand ingredients right now is not one known for its external beauty. We’re talking, of course, about mushrooms. That’s right, this forest dweller is the new unskippable part of your skincare routine.

Shrooms Have Been Used In Holistic Medicine For Eons

Shrooms are nothing new—they’ve been used in holistic wellness and traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds, possibly thousands of years. But they haven’t exactly been at the forefront of the beauty scene in modern times. Mushrooms have been around for quite some time; however, it was primarily in the world of health food stores as an oral supplement. Topically applied mushrooms, now that’s another story. They took much longer to catch on.

Dermatologists have been using kojic acid for years in topical products and medical-grade chemical peels. This molecule is derived from mushrooms for whitening the skin with discoloration issues.

Due to their antioxidant properties, mushrooms can also help reduce irritation and inflammation. One study found that phenolic veratric acid, a compound found in mushrooms known to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, helps improve the look of wrinkles.

The Global Mushroom Market Is Booming

Mushrooms are a useful tool for healthy skin, used internally and topically. When eaten, mushrooms like reishi and shiitake help to strengthen the body’s natural immunities, reducing skin sensitivity and improving resilience to environmental irritants.

The global mushroom market is expected to grow from $35.08 billion in 2015 to $59.48 billion in 2021. Not unexpected, when we know it’s currently estimated that the number of mushroom species is 150,000 and only 10% have been officially identified. We are just scraping the surface of this amazing nature's treasure chest. 

Ok, But What’s So Good About Mushrooms?

Mushrooms are an adaptogen. Adaptogens are herbs or plants that have the ability to reduce stress on the body. Mushrooms are a nutritional powerhouse. They contain phosphorus, potassium, zinc, copper, magnesium, as well as vitamins B and D. They are also high in protein and fiber but low in fat, which makes them perfect for a balanced diet.

They are also high in glutathione, an antioxidant and detoxifying nutrient, as well as ergothioneine, which protects DNA from oxidative damage. Mushrooms' most important medicinal property is the active ingredient-  polysaccharides. Polysaccharides have a significant impact on the immune system with potent immunomodulatory and anti-tumor effects and boost the production of the immune cells which help to fight viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens.

Chemistry Inside The Mushrooms

Not all mushrooms are made equal. They tend to fall into two separate camps – the medicinal and the edible.

From reishi,  which helps lower blood pressure and supports a healthy immune system, to chaga, the mushroom with the most medicinal properties of all, getting your mushroom dose can only be a good thing for your health. All functional mushrooms are adaptogens, which means they help the body adapt to stress. This is huge for overall health and wellness, as well as for your skin. Compared to other supplements or vitamins, there isn’t a toxic upper limit with functional mushrooms and they are safe for long-term use. In fact, you’ll see the most benefits with consistent long-term use.

Generally speaking, all mushrooms have a bit of the same chemistry to them. They are composed of polyphenols, which are really potent antioxidants. They also have triterpenes, which help reduce inflammation, and complex polysaccharides, which are excellent humectants that form a flexible film over the skin to attract water and make it feel smooth to the touch. This combination—polyphenols, triterpenes, and polysaccharides—makes mushrooms really powerful skincare ingredients.

That’s not even to mention the vitamins and other biologically active compounds that we’re just beginning to discover and study. Specific types of mushrooms have even been shown to strengthen the skin’s immune system and provide anti-wrinkle effects. 

These Are The Mushrooms You Should Pay Attention To

  • Finnish Chaga:

This Russian and Northern European mushroom is rich in minerals and acts as a potent antiviral and antibacterial agent to fight a wide variety of infections. Chaga may aid in cancer treatment as it helped decrease the instances of tumors spreading. Chaga has antioxidant properties which means it can also help protect skin against oxidative stress that can lead to signs of aging like wrinkles. Chaga mushroom extract curbs melanin production, meaning it may help with skin lightening.

  • Reishi: 

This bitter mushroom has potent anti-bacterial and anti-viral effects. It can be a helpful complement to your cold and flu therapies. Some doctors even recommend it as an essential component of an effective anti-aging regime. Reishi mushrooms contain beta-glucans and complex sugars. These compounds may be able to help stop the spread and growth of cancer cells.  As for skin care, reishi mushrooms are good hydration in addition to being high in antioxidants.

  • Shiitake: 

This type of mushroom has long been used by herbalists to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels and numerous studies have shown them to be helpful in slowing the progression of certain cancers. Consuming shiitake mushrooms daily could help improve your immune system. As for skin care, kojic acid, a well-known skin lightener, is found in shiitake mushrooms. Shiitake mushrooms, in addition to having kojic acid, also contain antioxidants and selenium that can decrease irritation and calm inflammation.

The mushroom skincare trend shows no signs of slowing down. Since they can help with everything from soothing irritation to providing hydration and offering anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits, it’s almost certain that we’ll hear more about this wonderful forest dweller.

Beauty & the Broth

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