Mushrooms: The Best Adaptogen Ingredient For Skin Care

Say hello to the “it” ingredient for health, wellness and beauty: mushrooms. These adaptogenic ingredients have been used in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine for thousands of years and are making the rounds as skin care superstars. Celebrated for their ability to improve overall skin health and youthfulness, it’s no wonder they’re topping every beauty guru’s list. Read on to discover why mushrooms are about to become your favorite skin care ingredient. 

What Is An Adaptogen?

To appreciate the beauty benefits of mushrooms, you must first have a handle on the function of adaptogens. In short, an adaptogen is a mushroom, plant, herb or root that helps the body adapt (hence, the name) to changes in its emotional and physical state. N.V. Lazarev, a Soviet pharmacologist, first coined the term in 1947 when he noticed how these herbs and botanical extracts could regulate and normalize the body’s physiological response to stress. Adaptogens are key to helping us cope with stress and bringing balance to the body and skin.

Mushroom Benefits For Skin

Stress plays a significant role in skin health: It increases inflammation, contributes to premature aging and can trigger hormonal imbalance. Stressors include environmental pollution, sun damage and our fast-paced lifestyles, which can all wreak havoc on our skin and health. Signs of stress in our skin appear in the form of dry patches, wrinkles and fine lines or dullness.
As adaptogens, mushrooms help mitigate your skin’s response to stress; they identify where your body is imbalanced and coax it back to baseline. In skin care, they also assist in distributing active ingredients to where they’re needed most, helping your skin stay strong, hydrated and healthy. Here is a closer look at two of our favorite fungi: snow mushroom and reishi mushroom.

Snow mushroom (or tremella fuciformis) is a tropical mushroom that is often found growing on hardwood logs after heavy rainfall. This gelatinous ’shroom has been used for thousands of years for its ability to provide deep and long-lasting hydration. In fact, Tang dynasty concubine Yang Guifei, one of China’s four great beauties, credited the snow mushroom with maintaining her flawless porcelain complexion. Here's a closer look at snow mushroom's amazing hydrating qualities:

Deeply Hydrates
Today, snow mushroom is used in skin care for its impressive hydrating properties. Known as a “super-humectant,” it functions similarly to hyaluronic acid, the gold standard in skin hydration. Snow mushroom’s gelatinous structure, combined with its high levels of polysaccharides, helps this ingredient draw moisture deep into the skin. While this mushroom holds 500 times its weight in water (compared to hyaluronic acid’s 1000), its small particles can penetrate the skin more easily, providing more potent hydration. 

Enhances Skin Strength And Elasticity
In addition to attracting moisture, snow mushroom excels at keeping it in place. Eminence Organics International Educator Brian Goodwin likens it to creating a rain cloud in your skin: It forms a naturally flexible film that traps in water and prevents it from escaping. This restores dry skin to its optimally hydrated state, enabling it to better carry out key functions that keep it strong, supple and elastic.

Aids In Natural Collagen Production
Snow mushroom also aids in the natural production of collagen, a structural protein that gives skin density and volume. Its antioxidant properties defend the skin against environmental stressors, which helps to reduce the visible signs of aging. As a result, the skin remains looking plump and wrinkle-free for longer.

Reishi mushroom is perhaps the best-known adaptogen. This fan-shaped mushroom is incredibly rare and was once reserved for use by emperors and empresses. Known as the “mushroom of immortality,” it has been used in Chinese medicine for thousands of years for its purported effects on longevity. The reishi mushroom has a bitter, woody taste and was traditionally steeped in tea or served as an extract. Today, it is harvested on tree stumps over several months before being included in health supplements, tea and coffee blends and now, skin care. 
Reishi’s superpowers come from its more than 400 bio-active compounds that boost overall health and immunity. Rachel Gargiulo, a certified nutrition consultant, tells Well+Good: “Reishi mushrooms are great for stimulating the immune system and liver function, producing an anti-inflammatory effect on the body.” In skin care, the “king of mushrooms” is used for its regenerative, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

Boosts Skin Cell Turnover
Efficient skin cell turnover is one of the precursors to a healthy and youthful complexion. Through this process, dead skin cells are shed and young, healthy cells rise to the skin’s surface. However, skin cell turnover slows with age: By 50, it can take as long as 45-90 days for your skin to fully turnover, causing it to become drier, thinner and more pigmented. Enter, reishi mushroom. With its regenerative properties, this fungus boosts skin cell turnover rate, improving the skin’s overall texture and brightness.

An Antioxidant And Anti-Inflammatory
This mushroom is also a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Environmental stress from pollution, blue light and UV rays exposes the skin to free radicals which damage its structural proteins, trigger inflammation and cause it to age prematurely. With its adaptogenic properties, reishi mushroom regulates levels of the stress hormone cortisol and minimizes inflammation. Its antioxidant capacity helps shield the skin from the drying and aging effects of free radical damage, keeping the complexion young and healthy-looking for longer.

Supports Skin’s Moisture Barrier
Reishi mushroom contains a high concentration of polysaccharides, beneficial sugars that are responsible for the skin’s natural ability to hydrate and retain water. By maintaining healthy hydration levels, this fungus supports the skin’s protective lipid barrier. A strong barrier is necessary for the skin to keep in essential moisture (making it soft and supple) and keep out potential irritants (which trigger inflammation and premature aging).

How To Add Mushrooms To Your Skin Care

Ready to add mushrooms to your skin care routine? You can experience the restorative powers of snow mushroom and reishi mushroom with The Pure Forest Collection ( masque/essence/eye ). This luxe collection harnesses the power of potent ingredients sourced from nature to restore your skin’s glow and improve its overall appearance.

Birch Water Purifying Essence

The Birch Water Purifying Essence is a lightweight essence that replenishes moisture, restores elasticity and minimizes redness due to dryness. Purifying birch water leaves the skin looking toned, while snow mushroom and reishi mushroom deeply hydrate for a supple and plump complexion. Together, these results-oriented ingredients improve barrier function, allowing your skin to better absorb and retain the benefits of the subsequent products. 

To use, dispense a small amount of essence in your hands or on a cotton pad. Pat onto cleansed and toned skin. Leave on and follow with your favorite serum, oil or concentrate. 

Snow Mushroom & Reishi Masque

The Snow Mushroom & Reishi Masque tightens and de-puffs the look of the skin to reveal a smooth, radiant-looking complexion. Snow mushroom and reishi mushroom deliver intense hydration and minimize the look of puffiness and improve the look of hydration. Paracress extract tightens and firms the look of the skin for a youthful-looking appearance, particularly along the jaw and neck.  

To use, mix a small amount of product in your hand with a few drops of water and apply evenly over the entire face and neck. Allow to dry for five to 10 minutes then rinse thoroughly with lukewarm water. Use one to two times per week for tighter and smoother-looking skin.

Snow Mushroom Moisture Cloud Eye Cream

Dubbed “moisture cloud” for its unique, fluffy texture, the Snow Mushroom Moisture Cloud Eye Cream deeply hydrates and revitalizes the eye area. Snow mushroom and reishi mushroom plump, hydrate and de-puff while botanical peptides from quinoa seed smooth roughness and minimize the look of undereye bags and puffiness. The result: A bright and youthful-looking eye area. To use, apply to the entire eye area twice daily, patting gently with fingertips until fully absorbed. Leave on.

Written by: Alisha Whitley

Updated by: Thea Christie, 

Edited by Wil Lakatos, April 20, 2023

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