If someone were to tell me just a few months ago that mushrooms could help save my skin, rescue my hair and make me fall in love with fungi, I probably would have run for the hills. I loathe mushrooms as a food, and unless they’re conspicuously cooked into a dish and well-hidden under lots of other delicious ingredients, mushrooms and I simply won’t tango. Maybe it’s their rubbery texture or weird, earthy taste; nevertheless, I avoid the plants like the plague.
A version of this article previously appeared on JacalynBeales.com.
But then I started using them as a skincare ingredient in my beauty routine and, wouldn’t you know it, I can’t get enough of these powerhouse botanicals. Weird, right?
You may not yet know how beneficial mushrooms are for internal and external health, but surprisingly, these guys pack a serious punch. From copper and selenium to vitamins and linoleic acid, mushrooms seem to have it all. Not only are they wonderful for your health–their minerals, vitamins, and fibers can help with various conditions, as well as weight loss–but mushrooms can also benefit the skin and hair. Like hyaluronic acid, mushrooms contain polysaccharides which are equally potent in providing the skin with moisture and a plumping effect. Their levels of vitamin D and kojic acid can help to reduce the severity of acne, breakouts, and dull complexions. The antioxidants found in mushrooms can also help to relieve inflammation and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Mushrooms can also be used to improve the health of hair, thanks to their levels of copper, selenium, and iron. Who knew?
When used topically in skin care and beauty items, mushrooms can help clarify the skin, tighten pores, reduce the severity of breakouts or acne, protect against free radical damage, and reduce inflammation. They contain high levels of lipids, antioxidants, vitamins and amino acids which work wonders on improving the quality and health of your skin. Now more than ever, mushrooms are being incorporated into, or used as the key ingredients in, many beauty products from mainstream brands, helping users reap the rewards of these powerful botanicals. Some of the common mushrooms found in beauty products today are: Reishi, Cordyceps, King Trumpet, Maitake, Shitake, and more. Infamous beauty brand, Origins, even has their own line of products based solely around mushrooms.
However, not every mainstream product harnessing the power of mushrooms is natural or free from harsh chemicals and preservatives. The most natural brand I’ve been able to find that incorporates mushrooms into a line of skin care free from harmful ingredients is Aziz Light Apothecary. They’ve created a cleanser, toner, and serum, all revolving around mushrooms and their powerful skin-benefitting properties. Depending on your budget, each product may be slightly pricey, but each lasts at least a month (if you don’t waste product by using too much cleanser, etc) and are well worth their price point.
Raw Honey & Mushroom Cleanser
This cleanser infuses locally-sourced, unrefined honey with four different species of mushrooms to help alleviate dryness, irritation, acne, and signs of aging. Mushrooms incorporated into the cleanser, toner, and serum are shitake, maitake, reishi and cordyceps. The cleanser also contains willow bark extract and white tea to help clarify and gently cleanse the skin. I use this on a daily basis to keep my skin clear, glowing, and hydrated, and I’ve found this cleanser doesn’t dry out my skin like some other natural cleansers have.
Mushroom & Bee Pollen Toner
What I love about this toner is how effective it is in keeping my skin clear and helping it to better absorb my facial oils and moisturizer. Bee pollen contains nucleic acid, which naturally promotes cellular turnover while the mushroom extracts in the toner keep my skin clear of oil and bacteria. I like to pair this with the brand’s serum but also spritz this toner onto my skin each morning after my shower to help alleviate redness and irritation. It has a lovely scent to it; sweet and earthy but subtle.
Quartz-Infused White Sage Toner
Okay, so, there aren’t enough good, awesome, amazing things I can say about this serum to reiterate how wonderful this brand’s mushroom-based products are. This serum is packed with mushroom extracts and other botanical derivatives–such as white sage, calendula, rosemary, pomegranate seed oil, and more–which perform a plethora of “tasks” to help cleanse, clarify, purify, and plump the skin. White sage cleanses and tones the skin while the mushroom extracts and floral oils nourish, brighten and clear the skin. When using this serum, my skin is less irritated, feels extremely hydrated and soaks into the skin quickly–a godsend during the chilly winter months here in Ontario. As a quick tip, this serum pairs perfectly with a jade facial roller for maximum absorption and keeps the skin looking smooth, toned, and dewy. Just a few drops of this serum go a long way; the bottle should last you a month, if not more.
Have you tried mushroom-infused skincare?
Also by Jacalyn: Immune-Boosting Golden Cocoa
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Photo: Aziz Light Apothecary