Mushrooms aren’t just flavorful fungi that elevate gourmet dishes. Different mushroom species can be used medicinally to help treat a number of ailments and promote physical and mental health. Now, dermatologists are discovering the benefits of applying mushrooms to the skin.
Certain mushroom infusions may help promote healthy, vibrant skin thanks to their metabolites. When applied to the skin, mushroom-infused balms, serums, and face masks may help improve beta glucan hydration, eliminate dark spots, and reduce damage from external factors such as the sun, salt, pollutants, and dry weather.
In this article, we’ll be discovering the potential benefits of mushrooms for skincare by looking at:
- The science behind how mushrooms benefit the skin
- The types of mushrooms that are used in skincare
- Which types of skin care products contain mushroom extracts
- Five great mushroom skincare products to look at
What Types of Products Contain Mushroom Extracts?
The popularity of mushrooms in skincare products is increasing. You’ll find a whole host of skincare products that contain mushroom extracts. Most of these are designed to reduce inflammation, wrinkles, dark spots, and improve hydration, stabilize pH levels in the skin, and eliminate free radicals.
Here’s a list of some common mushroom skincare formats:
- Creams & lotions
- Balms & salves
- Face oils
- Liquid exfoliators
5 Great Mushroom Skincare Products to Look At:
There are a ton of skincare products on the market today that contain various types of mushrooms. While there’s simply no way we can test them all, here are 5 of our all-time favorites so far:
1. Herbar: The Face Oil
“The Face Oil” by Herbar includes reishi and tremella mushroom extracts as well as hemp seed oil and bakuchiol. This oil claims to hydrate and illuminate the skin.
2. Origins: Dr. Andrew Weil Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Lotion
Developed by Dr. Weil — a pioneer in the field of integrative medicine — the Origins Mega-Mushroom Relief & Resilience Lotion features reishi and chaga mushroom extracts. It also contains hyaluronic acid and a range of other natural ingredients that help hydrate the skin, reduce redness, and minimize the appearance of wrinkles.
3. Youth to the People: Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream with Ashwagandha & Reishi
The Adaptogen Deep Moisture Cream by Youth to the People is a thick face cream that features a blend of adaptogenic herbs and mushrooms, including a fermented reishi extract. This cream aims to help reduce the impact of environmental stressors by reducing inflammation and eliminating free radicals.
4. Moon Juice: Beauty Shroom Exfoliating Acid Potion
The Moon Juice Beauty Shroom Exfoliating Acid Potion is a liquid exfoliator that utilizes reishi mushroom extract and natural AHAs and BHAs (exfoliating acids). It helps dissolve dead skin cells, unclog pores, and improve skin texture.
5. Maei MD: Serum 6 Advanced Phyto-Actives
“Serum 6” was developed by Dr. Rebecca Marcus — a leading dermatologist specializing in medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology. This serum features a blend of shiitake mushroom extract, peptides, amino acids, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. It has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and hydrating properties, according to Dr. Marcus.
What Types of Mushrooms Are Used in Skincare?
Several different species of mushrooms are used in cosmetic skincare products. However, some have proved more effective than others.
Here are some of the most effective mushroom extracts for skincare:
1. Shiitake (Lentinula edodes)
Shiitake mushroom extracts are commonly used in skincare products. They are rich in kojic acid, which is believed to help brighten skin tone and even out dark spots.
Products that utilize shiitake extracts may be useful for people with age spots, hyperpigmentation, or sun-damaged skin.
2. Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi)
Reishi extracts are the most popular and commonly used in the cosmetic industry. Reishi is famed for its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Skincare products high in reishi extract may help reduce irritation and ease symptoms of certain skin conditions.
Many cosmetic companies also claim that these mushrooms can stimulate collagen production — leading to firmer and more youthful-looking skin.
3. Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis)
Cordyceps mushroom extracts are often used in creams and serums to help improve the skin’s natural moisture barrier. The high amounts of beta-glucan polysaccharides found in cordyceps mushrooms may help reduce dryness and eliminate flakey skin.
This species also has anti-inflammatory properties. Creams, salves, and serums that contain cordyceps extract may help reduce inflammation, dryness, and flakey skin associated with acne, psoriasis, and other inflammatory skin conditions.
4. Chaga (Inonotus obliquus)
Chaga mushrooms are famed for their high levels of antioxidants. These compounds help reduce free radicals in the body, helping protect the skin against environmental factors such as the sun’s UV rays, pollution, and salt in the air.
It’s also believed that chaga can improve skin elasticity — reducing the appearance of wrinkles and age-related marks on the skin.
5. Tremella (Tremella fuciformis)
Tremella mushrooms often pop up in the ingredient lists of mushroom skincare products. Tremella extracts are rich in hyaluronic acid, which is a bioactive moisturizer.
Cosmetics that include tremella extract may help hydrate the skin and defend against environmental stressors such as UV and air pollutants.
6. Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus)
Lion’s Mane is renowned for its medicinal qualities when ingested. It’s now being used in several skincare products for similar reasons. This mushroom contains antioxidants that help fight free radicals in the body and compounds that hydrate the skin.
Mushrooms & The Skin: Exploring the Science
Mushrooms may benefit the skin through topical application and the consumption of certain mushroom extracts.
Mushrooms have been studied extensively to outline their nutritional value and medicinal qualities. However, progress is slow when it comes to research into fungi’s effects on the skin. That being said, there is some evidence that supports the use of mushrooms for skin care.
One study discovered that a compound found in a diverse array of mushroom species — phenolic veratric acid (VA) — has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities .
The study — published in the Archives of Dermatological Research — found that levels of VA found in Cauliflower fungus (Sparassis crispa) can improve facial wrinkle formation and provide protection from UV radiation when applied topically in the form of facial cream.
Another study assessed the cosmetic use of Grifolafrondosa (Maitake), Hericiumerinaceus (Lion’s Mane), and Ganoderma lucidum (Reishi) water extracts . The study discovered that these extracts reduce the irritating effect of washing gels on the skin as well as reducing skin cell toxicity and producing a positive effect on the pH and hydration of the skin.
The final valuable research paper I discovered assesses the anti-inflammatory effects of several different mushroom extracts used in popular cosmetic products . The study produced mixed results. However, extracts high in protocatechuic, vanillic, and p-coumaric acids did prove successful in reducing inflammation and increasing hydration when applied to the skin.
- Lee, K. E., Park, J. E., Jung, E., Ryu, J., Kim, Y. J., Youm, J. K., & Kang, S. (2016). A study of facial wrinkles improvement effect of veratric acid from cauliflower mushroom through photo-protective mechanisms against UVB irradiation. Archives of dermatological research, 308(3), 183-192.
- Ziemlewska, A., Wójciak, M., Mroziak-Lal, K., Zagórska-Dziok, M., Bujak, T., Nizioł-Łukaszewska, Z., … & Sowa, I. (2022). Assessment of Cosmetic Properties and Safety of Use of Model Washing Gels with Reishi, Maitake and Lion’s Mane Extracts. Molecules, 27(16), 5090.
- Taofiq, O., Heleno, S. A., Calhelha, R. C., Alves, M. J., Barros, L., Barreiro, M. F., … & Ferreira, I. C. (2016). Development of mushroom-based cosmeceutical formulations with anti-inflammatory, anti-tyrosinase, antioxidant, and antibacterial properties. Molecules, 21(10), 1372.