Mushroom Skincare Is Trending—Here’s How Fungi Can Benefit Your Skin

As an esthetician with over 30 years of experience, I’ve seen countless skincare trends come and go. Many of them were short-lived; they created a lot of buzz for a little while. Others lasted long enough to become serious skincare staples in their own right.

That’s what’s happening with the latest trend to sweep through the industry—mushroom skincare. Yes, it’s just like it sounds…Now more than ever, brands are harnessing the power of mushrooms to formulate new and effective products. (This is a trend I predicted earlier this year, and it’s certainly proving true!)

While mushrooms have been used medicinally for thousands of years, we’re just starting to understand how they can benefit our bodies and our skin. In this post, I’ll discuss the various types of mushrooms that are commonly used in product formulations and how each one affects the skin. I’ll also explain why I think this is a trend with some serious staying power!

Why Are Mushrooms Trending Right Now?

I believe mushrooms are trending for a few different reasons. The first is that cosmetics trends, like clothing trends, are cyclical. Mushrooms were first introduced in mainstream skincare products about 30 years ago, so it’s only natural that they’d cycle back now. It’s just like how, if you keep your clothes long enough, they’ll eventually come back in style!

The second reason I think mushrooms are so trendy right now is that there’s a huge crossover happening between food, supplements, and skincare. Since mushrooms are found in so many supplements, it only makes sense that they’d make their way over to skincare.

Finally, people seem to be becoming more and more interested in alternative medicines. As I said before, mushrooms have been used medicinally for thousands of years. Now, people are wondering, “If these mushrooms are good for my body, what can they do for my skin?

What Are The Health Benefits of Mushrooms?

Tero Isokauppila is the founder of the functional foods company Four Sigmatic, which specializes in mushroom-based products. He says mushrooms can benefit the body in many different ways. “Mushrooms can help support your immune system, stress management, gut health, athletic performance, and glowing skin. One of the main reasons for this is that fungi and animals have common ancestry and we share up to 50% of our DNA. This makes us very preceptive to mushrooms in our bodies.”

According to Isokauppila, all functional mushrooms are adaptogens, which means they help the body adapt to stress. “This is huge for overall health and wellness, as well as for your skin,” he says. They also provide basic nutritional benefits, being high in vitamins B and D. “Compared to other supplements or vitamins, there isn’t a toxic upper limit with functional mushrooms and they are safe for long-term use. In fact, you’ll see the most benefits with consistent long-term use,” he says.

Mushroom research is at an all-time high. Thanks to advancements in science and technology, we’re just starting to understand how they can benefit our skin. There’s still a lot of research to be done, especially since there are thousands of mushroom species out there, but the research that we do have is very promising!

How Can Mushrooms Benefit My Skin?

Generally speaking, all mushrooms have a bit of the same chemistry to them. They are composed of polyphenols, which are really potent antioxidants. They also have triterpenes, which help reduce inflammation, and complex polysaccharides, which are excellent humectants that form a flexible film over the skin to attract water and make it feel smooth to the touch. This combination—polyphenols, triterpenes, and polysaccharides—makes mushrooms really powerful skincare ingredients.

That’s not even to mention the vitamins and other biologically active compounds that we’re just beginning to discover and study. Specific types of mushrooms have even been shown to strengthen the skin’s immune system and provide anti-wrinkle effects. Cool, right?

What Types of Mushrooms Are Used in Skincare?

There are nine types of mushrooms I commonly see used in skincare products. The most common of these are silver ear mushroom (also known as the snow mushroom or tremella fuciformis), reishi, and shiitake. These seem to be the most popular because they’re readily available and they’ve been studied extensively.

Keep scrolling to see all nine and learn how each one can benefit the skin.

1. Tremella Fuciformis

Also known as the silver ear mushroom or the snow mushroom, this is by far the most common mushroom skincare ingredient. It’s famous for its high polysaccharide content. More specifically, it has a high content of mannose, xylose, and glucuronic acid, which act as humectants. They also provide film-forming activity to make the skin feel soft and smooth.

This mushroom is often called “the natural hyaluronic acid,” since it can hold up to 500 times its weight in water (that’s why it’s one of my favorite hydrating ingredients to formulate with!). According to one study, tremella fuciformis, when used at 0.05%, provided better moisture retention than 0.02% hyaluronic acid. I love that it offers additional benefits, too. Studies show tremella fuciformis can offer antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-aging properties. Perhaps that’s due to this extract’s polyphenol and flavonoid content, which are known antioxidants.

Recommended Products: Skin Correcting Serum and BHA Clarifying Serum

2. Reishi

Reishi (or ganoderma lucidum) is often an ingredient of smoothies and supplements, which is why it’s one of the most recognizable mushrooms on this list. It’s well researched and has a long history of use in Traditional Chinese Medicine, in which it’s referred to as “the mushroom of immortality.”

It’s high in polysaccharides as well as something called ganoderic acid, which can reverse collagen degradation and address cellular damage. It can even help with dark spots since it helps decrease melanin concentration. Thanks to its beta-glucan content, reishi can also provide anti-inflammatory benefits.

3. Shiitake

Shiitake (or lentinula edodes) is also widely used in Traditional Chinese Medicine, and it’s referred to as “the elixir of life.” It can address dark spots and discoloration, probably because of its naturally occurring kojic acid, which is a known skin brightener. It can also provide powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits since it contains ergothioneine and beta-glucan.

4. Maitake

Maitake (or grifola frondosa) grows in the wild in the mountains of Japan. It’s not very prevalent in skincare formulas in Europe and North America, perhaps because it’s not as readily available as other mushrooms. Like the other mushrooms on this list, it’s high in beta-glucan, which provides an anti-inflammatory benefit.

5. Fomes Officinalis

This mushroom is found in Eastern Europe and grows on the trunks of conifer trees. It was used medicinally for a very long time thanks to its astringent properties that come from a high agaric acid content. We now use it topically, and these same astringent properties can help minimize the appearance of pores while reducing oil production.

6. Coprinus Comatus

Found in Europe and North America, this mushroom is known for its skin brightening and anti-inflammatory properties. Like shiitake, it also contains the antioxidant ergothioneine (though coprinus comatus contains much more of it). Even though it can benefit the skin, it’s not commonly used in skincare formulations since it’s hard to work with. Once harvested, it immediately starts to decompose and lose its active content. After just a few hours, it will turn completely black and be unusable. Because of this, some manufacturers have special harvesting methods that allow them to extract the mushroom for use in cosmetics.

7. Chaga

Chaga (or inonotus obliquus) is becoming more and more popular as the mushroom skincare trend expands. Like reishi, it’s often consumed in supplements, although it offers some serious skin benefits when applied topically. Research shows that it can reduce redness and strengthen the skin barrier due to its high phytochemical content. Translation? It’s a good ingredient for sensitive skin types.

8. Northern Truffle

This mushroom, also known as albatrellus confluens, is sourced from Northern Europe. It contains powerful anti-inflammatory compounds, like grifolin, which may help inhibit pain receptors and reduce redness, sensitivity, and irritation in the skin. There’s a lot of interest in this mushroom for pharmacological applications as well as skincare.

9. White Truffle

The white truffle (or tuber aestivum) is another edible mushroom that’s being studied for its skin benefits. It’s sourced from Southern France and Northern Italy, and it has a high amino acid content that can effectively hydrate the skin.

The only problem with this mushroom (and the Northern Truffle, too) is that it’s a very expensive skincare ingredient. Truffles can’t be cultivated outside of their natural habitat, so they must be wild-harvested, which takes a lot of time, effort, and expertise. Plus, truffles are an important part of many cuisines, so they’re not as commonly used in skincare formulations.

Are Mushrooms Sustainable Skincare Ingredients?

As the skincare industry focuses more and more attention on sustainability efforts, it’s only natural to wonder about the effect of mushroom sourcing and cultivation on the environment. According to Isokauppila, the effect is quite minimal.

“Mushrooms are very sustainable,” he says. “They require small amounts of land/greenhouse space. They also help break things down in nature and restore harmony. Studies show picking mushrooms in nature, or not, has no impact on the number of mushrooms growing next season. So, buying both cultivated (ideally long grown) mushroom fruiting bodies and wildcrafted species is really good. Just avoid lab-grown mycelium products, which are grown on grains (rice or oats).”

The Bottom Line

The mushroom skincare trend shows no signs of stopping. Since they can do everything from soothing irritation to providing hydration and offering anti-inflammatory and anti-aging benefits, I think almost everyone can benefit from mushroom extracts!

Next, are waterless skincare products better for your skin and the environment?


  • Bhardwaj, Anuja (2019). Lingzhi or Reishi Medicinal Mushroom, Ganoderma lucidum (Agaricomycetes) Mycelium Aqueous Extract Modulates High-Altitude Induced Stress. International Journal of Medicinal Mushrooms. vol.21, doi:10.1615/IntJMedMushrooms.2019030648
  • Venturella, Giuseppe et al. “Medicinal Mushrooms: Bioactive Compounds, Use, and Clinical Trials.” International journal of molecular sciences vol. 22,2 634. 10 Jan. 2021, doi:10.3390/ijms22020634
  • Ma, Xia et al. “A review on the production, structure, bioactivities and applications of Tremella polysaccharides.” International journal of immunopathology and pharmacology vol. 35 (2021): 20587384211000541. doi:10.1177/20587384211000541
  • Liu, H.; He, L. Comparison of the moisture retention capacity of Tremella polysaccharides and hyaluronic acid. J. Anhui Agric. Sci. 2012, 40, 13093-13094.

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Skin and Circadian Rhythm: How to Optimize Your Skincare Routine

You’ve likely heard of circadian rhythm before, but chances are you associate it more with sleep patterns than with your skin. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. Your body is constantly making adjustments based on the time of day. These adjustments are triggered by both your biological or “internal” clock and by external environmental signals.

The main environmental signal that dictates our circadian rhythms is light. This signal is picked up through the eyes and transferred to different organs. Other signals include things like temperature, exercise, and food (this is why you might’ve heard that it’s best to avoid eating late at night).

Many organs are thought to have their own circadian rhythm, and skin is no exception. 

Why Does Understanding the Skin’s Circadian Rhythm Matter?

I’ve always told my clients and customers that when it comes to treating skin, you have to work with Mother Nature and not against her. For example, the fastest way to get rid of a blemish is by working in sync with its natural life cycle. Using the right type of spot treatment with the correct ingredients at the right time makes all the difference in the world and is key to getting rid of a blemish quickly.

Circadian rhythm is a similar concept. By using the right skincare ingredients at the right time of day, you can optimize your skincare routine and give your skin exactly the type of support it needs for better results.

What Your Skin is Doing During the Day

During daylight hours, your skin is constantly exposed to aggressors like UV radiation, pollution, and free radicals, all of which can cause DNA damage. This means that during the day, your skin is protecting itself. You want to do everything you can to support its natural defenses.

These are a few of the physiological changes that take place in your skin during the day:

  • Lower Temperature: The surface temperature of your skin is lowest early in the day. Your skin gets a lot of heat exposure from the sun, though, which can increase inflammation, redness, and pigmentation.
  • Increased Sebum Production: Your skin’s production of sebum (oil) peaks in the early afternoon. This is basically your skin creating a natural film to protect itself from the environment (and the reason you may sometimes feel your skin is an oil slick by the end of the day).
  • Better Moisture Barrier Function: Studies suggest your skin is better at holding on to moisture during the day thanks to improved barrier function. This results in better moisture retention but also means your skin is less receptive to skincare products.
  • Increased Antioxidant Production: Your skin’s natural antioxidant production is increased during the day as it tries to protect itself from DNA damage caused by free radical molecules

Best Skincare Ingredients for Daytime

With this in mind, here are the best skincare products to use in the morning. All of these boost your skin’s natural defense mechanisms.

1. Sunscreen

No surprise here! A sunscreen with SPF 30 or higher is the most important step in your morning routine. It’s also the number one way to protect your skin against DNA damage from harmful UV rays. We already know sunscreen is important for preventing premature skin aging and skin cancer, but it seems there’s yet another reason to use it faithfully. Some studies have shown that UV radiation can disrupt your skin’s circadian rhythm for up to 24 hours. This means too much sun exposure could interfere with your skin’s nighttime repair processes. It illustrates the importance of protecting your skin with both SPF and sun-protective clothing.

2. Antioxidants

This is a great example of supplementing your skin’s natural defenses. Your skin is already working hard to produce antioxidants during the day, but adding more topically is a great way to give it a boost. Antioxidants help prevent skin damage on a cellular level by running interference against unstable free radical molecules.

3. Makeup

Yes, you read that right! I believe wearing some form of foundation makeup every day is a great way to give your skin extra protection. Here’s how it works.

For more detail, learn how to put together the perfect morning skincare routine.

What Your Skin is Doing at Night

If daytime is all about defense, nighttime is all about offense. This is when your skin gets to work repairing any damage that was incurred throughout the day. Even though your skin is constantly working to repair itself, these processes definitely peak in the evening (they don’t call it “beauty sleep” for nothing!). These are a few of the physiological changes taking place in your skin at night:

  • More Permeable Barrier: Now that your skin isn’t facing an onslaught of environmental aggressors, your skin’s protective barrier function is decreased. This means two things: 1) Your skin is more receptive to products, so you want to take advantage by adding a serum to your nighttime routine. 2) It’s super important to use a well-formulated moisturizer for your skin type to prevent water loss and support your skin’s moisture barrier.
  • Higher Cell Proliferation: At night, your cells are growing and dividing at a higher rate so they can regenerate.
  • DNA Repair & Renewal: Your skin gets to work repairing DNA damage from the day. This also helps bolster and strengthen your skin’s immune system.

Best Skincare Ingredients for Nighttime

With this in mind, here are the best skincare products to use at night. All of these boost your skin’s natural reparative processes.

1. Antioxidants

During the day, your skin uses up its antioxidant supply to defend against free radicals. Applying antioxidants topically at night means your skin can use them for repair instead. Here are five of my favorite antioxidant ingredients to look for.

2. Retinol

Retinol, or vitamin A, is technically also an antioxidant. It boosts skin cell turnover, which helps the skin to regenerate itself from within.

3. Exfoliating Acids

Exfoliating acids like AHAs and BHAs dissolve dead cells on the surface of your skin. These dead cells can make your skin look dull and may make it difficult for other active ingredients to penetrate effectively. Acids also help reduce unwanted pigment and encourage a more even-toned complexion.

4. Peptides

Peptides help build and repair collagen that’s been damaged by environmental aggressors. Collagen loss is a key component of skin aging, so peptides are a great (and generally well-tolerated) ingredient to look into.

Read more about how to build the perfect nighttime skincare routine.

What’s the Best Time to Do Your Nighttime Skincare Routine?

We used to think that repair processes only occurred at night during sleep. We now know that these processes actually kick in as soon as the sun starts to go down. Because your skin has its own circadian rhythm, the loss of daylight signals that it’s time to start moving into repair mode, even if you haven’t gone to bed yet. This may mean that it’s beneficial to do your nighttime skincare routine earlier in the evening rather than waiting until right before your head hits the pillow. Another reason I encourage this is that there’s less of a chance you’ll get too tired to do your nighttime routine and end up skipping it altogether.

Can Blue Light Affect Your Skin’s Circadian Rhythm?

Since the main signal governing our skin’s circadian rhythm is light, it stands to reason that blue light could have an effect. As I mentioned, it’s already been pretty well established that UV light has a big effect on these natural rhythms. Blue light is part of the visible light spectrum, which is emitted by the sun but also by our electronic screens.

While blue light given off by screens hasn’t really been implicated in skin aging, circadian rhythm may be another story. Truthfully, there’s a lot more research that needs to be done in this area before we can say for sure, but I do believe there’s a strong possibility late-night screen time can interfere with the skin’s natural cycles. And since a disrupted circadian rhythm can interfere with everything from the skin’s immune system to DNA repair, it’s definitely worth considering. We already know it’s better for your sleep habits overall to avoid screens right before bed, so if it can improve your skin as well, even better!

What did you think of this topic? I think circadian rhythms are fascinating and that there’s still a lot of potential yet to be harnessed in this field. I’m excited to see more research in this area and hope it will help provide even more insight into how we can optimize and personalize our skincare routines!

Up next, read 10 nighttime skincare tips that can make a big difference.

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5 Ways to Make the Transition from Winter to Spring Skin Care

As you start putting your hats, scarves, and down coats back into storage, it’s time to start thinking about making some adjustments to your skincare routine as well as your wardrobe. 

Thankfully, the transition from winter to spring isn’t as harsh as other seasonal shifts can be, but you still want to pay special attention to your skin any time there’s a significant shift in weather. As your environment changes, your skin will have different needs. While this doesn’t mean you have to completely rehaul your skincare routine for spring, there are a few adjustments I suggest making to help refresh your skin as it recovers from the stress of winter. 

Keep reading for five easy ways to adjust your skin care routine for spring!

Common Skin Concerns This Time of Year

During winter, the constant onslaught of dry air affects our skin in a number of ways. Through a process called osmosis, the air pulls moisture from your skin leading to dry, dead skin cells as well as moisture barrier disruption. Thanks to this, there are five main issues I see people commonly dealing with at the end of winter:

  1. Dull skin. Dry, expired cells don’t reflect light the way healthy, hydrated cells do, so many people are going into spring concerned about dull-looking skin.
  2. Sensitive neck. Because it’s so thin, the skin on the neck is already sensitive. Add in scratchy wool scarves and turtlenecks, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a winter skin rash
  3. Fine lines. These are lines that show up mainly around the eyes, and sometimes a little on the forehead. They’re small superficial lines caused by dehydration, which is why they become more prominent during winter. 
  4. Clogged pores. If you’re someone whose skin naturally produces oil, clogged pores can build up over the course of the winter season. While oil is still flowing, it gets trapped by a surface layer of dry skin cells and settles in your pores. This can lead to bumpy texture.
  5. Sensitivity. When our skin’s moisture barrier becomes compromised, tiny invisible cracks form. These allow moisture to escape while irritants can get in more easily. This is why, during winter, some products that you can normally use suddenly sting. 

5 Ways to Adjust Your Skincare Routine for Spring 

To address these skin concerns coming out of winter and get your skin ready for spring, here are five adjustments you can make to your skincare routine.

1. Switch Up Your Cleanser

This is usually one of the first things I tell people to do when a major seasonal shift happens, and springtime is no exception.

During winter, you may have been using a richer cleanser with a balm or lotion texture (I personally prefer lotion cleansers when it’s cold out). Once spring is around the corner, I typically encourage people to switch to a gel cleanser. Gel cleansers are a little better at cutting through the oil your skin will start to produce more of as temperatures rise.

Gel cleansers sometimes get a bad reputation for being drying, but this is all thanks to old-school foaming cleansers. Modern gel cleansers are sulfate-free, use low-foaming agents that won’t strip the skin, and include hydrating ingredients. 

If you’re looking to switch up your spring skincare routine but are worried about hydration, try the Moisture Protecting Cleanser. If dull skin is more your concern, I’m a huge fan of the Mint Renewal Cleanser for bringing life and circulation back to the face.

Speaking of cleansers, be sure you aren’t making these common cleansing mistakes.

2. Lighten Up By Ditching Oils and Heavy Creams

While there are some skin types (like Skin Types #7-9) that require richer, lipid-based moisture year-round, most of us need to start shifting our focus toward lighter, water-based hydration in spring. 

Be mindful that you don’t want to make this change all at once. Seasonal transitions don’t happen overnight, and neither should your skincare adjustments. On colder nights, go ahead and continue to use your winter moisturizer or face oil. On warmer nights, use something with more of a lotion texture, like Sheer Moisture Lotion. Lotions use a higher ratio of water-based ingredients compared to oils, so they’ll keep you moisturized without weighing you down.

This is also a good time to start incorporating hydrating serums with ingredients like hyaluronic acid into your routine (I like this serum because it also has vitamin C to brighten). You can also opt for gel masks to relieve thirsty skin.

3. Spring-Clean Your Pores With Exfoliation 

Constant dry, winter air leads to a buildup of dead cells on the surface of your skin. This buildup is responsible for making skin look dull and clogging pores. If you’re dealing with either of these issues, it’s time to up your exfoliation. 

I recommend adding in an extra day or two of exfoliation, depending on what your skin can handle (I recommend most people exfoliate three to five times a week). 

Remember, there are two ways to exfoliate. One is exfoliating acids, like AHAs and BHAs. I like Pore + Wrinkle Perfecting Serum because it combines both, which is great for lifting surface dryness and clearing pores. The second way to exfoliate is physical exfoliation, like Mint Buffing Beads facial scrub. Once or twice a week, gently roll these rounded jojoba beads across your skin to physically lift off loosened dead cells. This is great for instantly making skin look brighter, making pores look smaller, and giving relief from clogged pores. (Pro tip: I love a gentle physical scrub to get rid of dryness on the neck.)

At-home exfoliation is great, but spring is also a great time to go for a pore-clearing facial with an esthetician! It’s always nice to go for a skin reset when the seasons change, plus this gives you access to a professional who can answer any questions you have about switching up your personal skincare routine for spring. (Learn how often you actually need to be getting professional facials.)

Read more about how to get your pores clean (and keep them that way).

4. Load Up On Antioxidants

I believe a serum with antioxidants should be part of any solid morning routine year-round but come spring, you’ll want to up your game. As we start spending more time outdoors exposed to the elements again, it’s helpful to up the dose you’re giving your skin topically.  

You might already be using a vitamin C serum in the morning, but I like adding antioxidants in at night, too. Using something like the Firm + Repair Overnight Serum allows your skin to use the diverse mix of antioxidants to repair itself, not just to protect itself like during the day. Topical antioxidants are the best way to protect your skin directly, but it doesn’t hurt to eat a diet rich in these 10 antioxidant foods.

And of course, let’s make sure we’re wearing SPF all year round! Come spring, it’s time to start focusing more on sun-protective clothing again. Remember, protecting yourself from the sun is the number one way to prevent visible signs of skin aging. 

5. Introduce Retinol Into Your Routine

Speaking of the best ways to prevent visible signs of aging, spring is a fantastic time to dip your toe into starting retinol. If you don’t already know, it’s amazing for smoothing fine lines, fading discoloration, addressing large pores, and bringing a glow to dull skin (basically, everything you want coming out of winter). That said, retinol is a very active ingredient so some people can’t tolerate it as well during winter when their moisture barrier is weakened. 

Spring is a great time to start using retinol because our skin is generally less sensitive since the weather is more forgiving. Always start slow when using retinol and then work your way up at a pace that’s comfortable for you. Hopefully, by next winter, your skin will be acclimated enough that you’ll be able to keep using retinol even during the colder months.

Interesting in retinol but not sure how to start? Read my Beginner’s Guide to Retinol. 

So there you have it, five ways to adjust your skincare routine for spring! I hope you found some useful information, and I’d like to leave you with one last bonus tip: always listen to your skin. As I mentioned, seasonal shifts don’t happen overnight. Let your skin tell you what it needs as you slowly settle into your new routine.

Next, read all about what you can do now to prevent summer sun spots.

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