What’s it like to trip on mushrooms? It seems not only can we get high on magic mushrooms but so does our skin. OK, enough of the puns.

It seems at this time and moment, mushrooms are everywhere. It can be that once you see it, you’re attuned to it and see it everywhere. But even viewed objectively, the mushrooms are having their heyday in the beauty industry.

There is likely no other naturally-occurring organism on earth as versatile and complex as the mushroom. According to an estimate, there are over 150,000 species of mushrooms. There are some which the fruiting body of a fungus can kill you, rounds of a hotpot, or make taste colours, smell shapes, or experience spiritual significance. And then, there are some that will send you straight down into a rabbit hole.

With such a wide versatility, it’s no wonder that mushrooms have been used in Eastern cultures for eons. In the Chinese culture, shrooms were used in skincare and as supplements. They were used for correcting imbalances and restoring vitality. But they haven’t taken centre stage of the beauty scene – until recently.

Now though, more and more scientific data is proving their benefits and so, numerous companies are adding many different kinds of mushroom extracts in their products.

Growing trend

Even if some people may steer clear of mushrooms at mealtimes, the mushroom market is expected to mushroom – pun intended. It’s not all so surprising since only about 10% of the 150,000 or so species have been officially identified. So, there’s a lot of potential.

The growing obsession has also to do with the fact that the beauty industry is catering to the people who want natural and plant-based beauty. This interest in plant-based ingredients is forcing the industry to study and hopefully discover substances that are just as effective as their chemical counterparts.

Not all mushrooms on the market are the same. They can be roughly grouped into 2 categories.

  1. Edible
  2. Medicinal

Magic powers for your health

With as many as 150,000 and more species of mushrooms, you can expect that they contain an equally vast amount of compounds and nutrients.

The mushrooms that are beneficial for your health are classified as adaptogens. Substances of this nature have long been used in herbal remedies and traditional oriental medicine to help the body regain its homeostasis.

Homeostasis according to Wikipedia is the body’s ability to maintain a relatively stable internal state that persists even when the world outside changes.

Adaptogens, that is mushrooms, support the normalisation of hormone levels, reduces inflammation, increase resistance to both viral and bacterial infections, improve nerve growth. In short, they have immune-modulating functions. Put differently, they boost your overall health.

Research has shown that mushrooms contain two specific antioxidants (ergothioneine and glutathione). These antioxidants are associated with protecting the body against free radical damage that can contribute to everything from Alzheimer’s disease to cancer.

Other research has shown that mushrooms have other healing properties like cholesterol– and blood pressure-lowering as well as anti-diabetic capacities.

Magic powers for your skin

When the West started to obsess over mushrooms, it was because it was discovered that shiitake mushrooms contain kojic acid. Kojic is well known to even out skin tone and so mushrooms were originally only used for their lightening effects.

Photo by Bluebird Provisions

All the health benefits that you get from eating mushrooms, you can also get when you apply them to your skin. Then, these benefits are delivered start to the application spot. That is, they can protect the skin from environmental aggressors and restore troubled skin to its stable state.

You have read about antioxidants time and again, this section is going to concentrate on other aspects of applying mushrooms to your skin.

A number of scientific studies and clinical trials have shown that the high content of essential acids lysine and leucine in mushrooms, helps combat ageing and wound-healing. Some mushrooms contain terpenes that was shown to help promote skin renewal and rejuvenation, so that helps combat skin damage and inflammation caused by UV radiation.

In another research, scientists have found that mushrooms contain beta-glucan. This compound helps improve the skin barrier. Studies show that mushrooms are a great natural hydrator. High in polysaccharides, these molecules are great to draw and hold moisture to the skin – think hyaluronic acid.

In general, mushrooms are great sources of many vitamins and minerals such as potassium, zinc, iron, vitamin D, and vitamin B3. These nutrients are essential for healthy skin. They promote skin cell growth and repair. Shrooms also are high in vitamin D, which is needed to support the immune system of the skin.

Mushrooms are not a fad

The number of internet searching for certain mushrooms or properties is rising more and more. And, there’s no shortage of different types of mushrooms, nor skin-saving compounds specific to them. As people like you and I are getting savvier at understanding the packaging label, we don’t want to forgo the magic of mushrooms. This is

  • antioxidant
  • anti-collagenase (it suppresses the enzyme that breaks down collagen)
  • anti-elastase (it suppresses the enzyme that breaks down elastin)
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-microbial
  • skin-lightening
  • hydrating

Even if all of these sound magical, keep in mind that, as with any other skincare ingredient, it will take several weeks for you to notice the effects.

Do you want us to look at a skincare ingredient in-depth? Let us know in the comments.

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