One of the biggest new trends in the beauty industry is the use of mushrooms in products. Appropriately dubbed ‘The Shroom Boom’, skincare experts are finding beneficial ingredients to be used in all sorts of products in their range.

Why mushrooms?

A 2016 Study on Industrial Crops and Products found that mushrooms helped combat ageing, reduce skin disease inflammation and correct hyperpigmentation.

A 2019 MDPI Molecules study on Beta Glucan found that mushrooms also contain beta-glucan, which helps improve the skin barrier and fight ageing with antioxidants.

Renowned mycologist Christopher Hobbs collected a review of medicinal mushrooms. He came to the conclusion that mushrooms aid in the following: hydration, wound healing, antioxidant protection, anti-ageing, redness reduction, soothing, nourishing and skin brightening. 

Mushrooms are a terrific and large source of ingredients for the beauty sector. There are more than 14,000 different species of mushrooms. Although some are very deadly, most have shown properties to heal and treat the body, particularly skin-related issues.

When used in skincare topically, mushrooms can protect the skin from environmental aggressors and restore troubled skin to its peaceful baseline. 

Mushrooms in Eastern Culture

Whilst the use of fungi is a recent development in the beauty industry, one would be incorrect in calling it a recent discovery. Eastern Cultures have been using mushrooms in medicine and treatment for centuries. For example, traditional Chinese medicine used the Reishi and Cordycep stains for their heightened healing properties. 

The Chinese would use Ashwagandha, which is classified as an adaptogen. An Adaptogen is a counter stressor for the body and restores homeostasis to the body. This treatment, used alongside Reishi or Shiitake which boost the immune system, has been a part of Chinese medicine for centuries. It is only in the last few years that Western culture has come to see the benefits of fungi in skin care.

Dr Andrew Weil and Origins

In 2005, Dr Andrew Weil, one of the world’s most celebrated mycologists, began a partnership with Origin. The venture was planned with the hope that Dr Weil could develop ingredients or treatments from this ignored well of resources. And that’s exactly what happened. Weil and Origin put together the ‘Mega-Mushroom Collection’; an assortment of products that helped with skin inflammation.

Weil and Origins collaboration set the standard and example for mushroom use in the beauty sector. Other companies have most certainly followed suit. 

What mushrooms are the most popular in beauty products?

There are a few mushroom strains that have already, in their short time, become staples for mushroom-based products. We break them and their benefits down below:

  • Chaga Mushrooms: these are three times more effective at fighting free radicals than acai berries. As a result, it is one of the most antioxidant-rich foods in the world.
  • Cordyceps: these are energy and stamina boosting as well as anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant. Cordyceps are used in many products today to hydrate skin, boost collagen and elastin production.
  • Reishi: This strain can provide anti-wrinkle benefits as it improves skin barrier function by supporting the skin’s resilience against stressors and locking in moisture. Reishi is hugely beneficial for those with sensitive skin. 
  • Shiitake: Shiitake can fade dark spots and scars, as well as even and brighten skin tones.
  • Tremella: This strain increases skin hydration and has a plumping effect. Tremella attracts and retains up to 500 times its weight in water, making it perfect for dry skin.
  • Trametes Versicolor: sometimes referred to as the ‘turkey tail’, this strain is a powerful immune booster as it contains a compound called ‘Polysaccharide K’ aka PSK which stimulates the immune system.
  • Coprinus: This is another antioxidant and the one used by Dr. Weil in his collaboration with Origins. 

The brand Cult Beauty saw a 480% increase in searches for the term ‘mushroom’ on their store in the past year. There is a larger and growing interest in plant-based ingredients now. Naturally, this has led to the beauty sector tapping into an otherwise ignored flora resource. 

Mushrooms are a fantastic plant-based alternative for certain ingredients. Western culture hasn’t paid attention to mushrooms in the past. However, because of demand, experts are discovering more and more useful ingredients in fungi. This doesn’t appear to be a trend that’s going to come and go … mushrooms are here to stay.