Why mushrooms are the magical ingredient your skin needs


We’ve long been told we are what we eat. But now that our bathroom cabinets resemble our kitchen pantries—think of all the avocado, blueberry, turmeric, coconut water and goat’s milk treatments in there—we are what we put on our skin too. When it comes to nutrient-rich foods, mushrooms hold a singular place. In terms of their dietary clout, they are rich in Vitamin D, inflammation-fighting selenium and health-boosting antioxidants. Applied topically, these fabulous fungi can reduce visible redness, calm irritation and brighten your complexion. Turns out the humble ’shroom can give your skin a little va-va-voom.

The outsize benefits of mushroom are not a recent revelation: they have been relied on in traditional Chinese medicine and Indian Ayurveda for generations. According to one estimate there are over 40,000 species of mushrooms, including psychoactive types, yet the breakout star is reishi. With its weird tawny colour and wonky shape, reishi is not the prettiest variety. But what it lacks in aesthetics, it makes up in applications. Shiseido is a big fan, showcasing its immunity-boosting abilities in Ultimune Power Infusing Serum Concentrate. Packaged in a traffic-stopping red bottle, Ultimune can effectively slow ageing: it is clinically proven to strengthen skin, restore firmness and defend against daily damage.

READ MORE: Soft skin is the new glass skin – here’s how to get it

How does it do this? The company has two decades of research examining the role of Langerhans cells (LCs) in the skin, which have the unique capability to self-renew. Just as your body’s immune system defends against foreign invaders, skin has its own method for defence against ageing, stress and environmental threats. Reishi extracts, rich in antioxidants, play an integral role in hydrating, plumping and boosting skin’s ability to protect itself. Skin looks noticeably smoother, firmer and more hydrated after use. Ultimune Eye Power Infusing Concentrate works in a similar way, taking aim at visible wrinkles and loss of resilience around the eyes. Both lightweight serums are boosters, elevating the effectiveness of your moisturiser and eye cream.

READ MORE: How to choose the best serum for your skin concern

Origins is another advocate of mushroom magic. The US brand tapped Dr. Andrew Weil, a specialist in alternative medicine, to consult on its plant-based treatments. The Mega Mushroom collection, recognisable for its on-message moss green packaging, pairs skin-soothing reishi with skin-calming chaga. The latter mushroom, which famously grows on the bark of birch trees in cold climates, is believed to promote longevity and good health. Their twin powers are on display in Mega-Mushroom Relief and Resilience Serum, which instantly refreshes and replenishes skin, including sensitive types. Mega Mushroom Soothing Treatment Lotion, a watery lotion that reduces the look of redness, also features coprinus mushrooms. This third variety can help neutralise pollution-triggered stress, and alleviate dryness and sensitivity.

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A number of other beauty brands have been foraging for mushrooms too. Chantecaille’s Detox Clay Mask blends black clay, honey and agarikon extract—this mushroom has astringent and pore-tightening effects. Dr. Dennis Gross sprinkles snow ear mushroom in its Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel, to maintains skin’s delicate moisture barrier. Ideal for use after sun exposure or a flight, Ren Clean Skincare’s Evercalm Ultra Comforting Rescue Mask includes white mushroom to calm redness, irritation and blotchiness. Kat Burki balances brightening Vitamin C with anti-ageing reishi in this face cream. And Shiseido turns to white jelly mushroom for its Waso Fresh Jelly Lotion, an essence that helps lock in moisture for dewy, plump skin. Is there nothing mushrooms can’t do?


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