They may not sound super glamorous, but mushrooms are great for our skin — and the planet, too.
It’s estimated that there are, quite literally, millions of different species of fungi growing all over the earth. And right now, there are around 10,000 known types of mushrooms. Some are deadly, some are delicious, and some, it turns out, are good for slathering on your face. Yep, that’s right.
For the last few years, mushroom skincare has been rising in popularity. Sure, it doesn’t have the same ring to it as, say, aloe vera or mango butter, but research does suggest that certain species of fungi have multiple skin benefits. Plus, they’re a sustainable beauty ingredient too. Here’s more about the wonders of mushrooms, as well as examples of some of the brands using them in skincare right now.
Are mushrooms good for your skin?
Mushroom skincare is far from new. Many traditional Chinese remedies call for certain types of fungi, like snow fungus, for example. The fungus (also known as snow ear or its scientific name, Tremella fuciformis) is renowned for having a softening, moisturizing impact on the skin. And that’s likely because it’s a source of polysaccharides, aka skin-hydrating molecules.
But it’s not alone. Shiitake, reishi, chaga, and cordyceps are just a handful of examples of other mushrooms that are associated with skin-healing benefits. They’re not just hydrating, but they’re also anti-inflammatory and rich in antioxidants, a type of compound that helps to reduce cell damage in the body. Mushrooms are also considered adaptogens, which means that they help the body respond to things like stress, fatigue, and anxiety.
“Mushrooms are powerful both internally and externally,” Gabe Kennedy, a chef, entrepreneur, and founder of regenerative plant and mushroom supplement brand Plant People, told Editorialist. “They support both innate and adaptive immunity when ingested, and when applied topically they contain tons of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which can help the skin’s anti-aging functions.”
Mushroom skincare could also benefit the planet
The beauty industry is massive. Globally, it’s worth more than $250 billion. But all of these cosmetics and skin care products require ingredients, many of which can be sourced in harmful ways. The production of coconut oil, for example, threatens more than 20.2 species per million metric tons. And the same amount of palm oil, which is associated with vast amounts of deforestation, threatens 3.8 species.
But, when it comes to the environment, mushrooms have a better reputation. For one, they’re not energy-intensive (many can even thrive in complete darkness), and they don’t require huge amounts of resources, like water and land, to grow. In fact, according to the Mushroom Council, a U.S.-based mushroom producer organization, growers can produce millions of pounds of mushrooms each year, using only a “few acres of land.”
Which brands are using mushrooms in skincare?
Because of their skincare and sustainability credentials, mushrooms are becoming a popular choice for a number of beauty brands. Here are a few examples of those on the market right now prioritizing fungi in their products.
1. Neon Hippie
In February, mushroom-based skincare brand Neon Hippie launched into the U.S. market. There are seven products in the brand’s range, including Super Luxe Face Oil and Neurolux Peptide Cream. Most contain its signature 7 Shroom Complex, which is a “proprietary mix of hero mushrooms” sourced from a farm in Oregon.
Herbivore’s formulas have always prioritized natural, gentle ingredients, and its Mushroom Magic Plumping Hydration Set, which features a cleanser and a moisturizer, is no different. Again, ultra-hydrating snow fungi are the star of the show, alongside super moisturizer vegan squalane.
3. Youth to the People
Youth to the People’s Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream will leave your face feeling smooth, silky, and soft to the touch, and that’s all thanks to the hydrating dream team in the formula: squalane, shea butter, jojoba, ashwagandha, and fermented reishi mushrooms.
4. Paula’s Choice
Paula’s Choice has a reputation for highly effective skincare products, and that’s because the brand has always been “research-led.” It follows the science, and that, in turn, produces the best formulas. Its Super Hydrate Overnight Serum, which contains reishi mushrooms, cloudberries, and shea butter, is highly regarded for leaving skin looking brighter, as well as feeling softer and more hydrated.
In 2021, Harry Styles joined the celebrity beauty boom when he launched his own cosmetics line, Pleasing. Initially, the line offered nail polish, moisturizer, and a serum, but in 2022, the brand debuted its second collection, Shroom Bloom, which includes a Hand + Nail Balm formula enriched with apricots, shea butter, and hydrating snow fungi.
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