Mushrooms have long been known for their nutritional health benefits as a low-calorie food, high in protein, fiber, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. They’ve also been used in eastern medicine for thousands of years. But these fascinating fungi have benefits that go far beyond our nutritional health. They can also work wonders on our skin.
Basic mushroom facts
All mushrooms are fungi but not all fungi are mushrooms. There are about 1.5 million species of fungi and 20,000 species of mushrooms. Mushrooms are the fruiting bodies of certain fungal species. Think of fungi as the root structure and mushrooms as the fruit that grows from it. Yet, they’re not plants as they lack chlorophyll, leaves or stems. Fungi are the “recyclers of the forest,” breaking down plant life and making it usable for new plant life and for animal life. Fungi have been used to create penicillin, as yeast used to make beer and bourbon, and, yes, have incredible skin benefits.
Why mushrooms are good for your skin
Fungi are highly enzymatic which means, in part, that they are excellent at breaking down organic matter. So much so that in 2007, oyster mushrooms were used to help remove 58,000 gallons of oil from San Francisco Bay as a result of the COSCO-Busan oil spill in 2007 and were found far more effective than the most powerful synthetic detergents or solvents. And they’ve been used to combat oil spills ever since.
So if oyster mushrooms are so great at cleaning oil in the ocean, can they clean oil on your skin too? Well, they can, and can do so much more.
It was this insight which led many beauty brands to look into the potential of mushrooms in delivering powerful, natural, beauty and skin benefits. We at HEAR ME RAW saw the potential in oyster and other mushrooms and made it the foundation of our new Good Clean Fungi Quadruple-Mushroom Gentle Scrubbing Cleansing Balm.
What mushrooms to look for in your skincare
When something is good for your body, it usually means it's good for your skin since skin is your largest organ. While there are a wide variety of mushrooms that have excellent skin benefits, here are just four very different, very effective mushrooms you should look for:
There are over 200 varieties of oyster mushrooms, like pearl, blue, golden and pink. They’re beautiful to look at, are wonderful to eat, and are incredibly nutritious. They are high in protein, minerals and vitamins A, B3, B5, B6, and D, phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, salt, iron, and zinc, all of which are necessary for the human body to develop robust immunity. For skin, they’re also nutrient-rich, natural cleansers, oil absorbers and eliminators that are high in antioxidants. They’ve also been found to help forestall the development of lines and wrinkles and other signs of premature aging, such as skin dullness.
Like brown plates growing off of trees, reishi mushrooms look more like tree growths than mushrooms. Surprisingly, they’re 90% water and only 10% solid consisting of protein, fat, carbohydrate, fiber, ash, some vitamins and minerals, with potassium, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, selenium, iron, zinc, and copper. Reishi aren’t typically eaten and are instead used for supplements, teas and tinctures to help boost the immune system, increase energy and support longevity. For skin they’ve also been found to increase the thickness of the epidermis and dermis, which helps increase skin elasticity and reduce the signs of aging.
If you see a tree with black bulges on it, it very well might be chaga mushrooms. Cut them open and you’ll see the bright orange “meat” inside. These fungi are rich in calcium, iron, zinc, B-complex vitamins, vitamin D, copper, manganese, potassium, amino acids, fiber, magnesium. molybdenum, selenium, sodium, sulfur and zinc. Similar to reishi, they’re primarily used as supplements for being high in antioxidants and providing DNA support. For skin, they’re also high in polysaccharides and help stimulate collagen production.
Tremella mushrooms look more like sponges than mushrooms. Considered a superfood, they are often added to smoothies, juices and teas because they’re rich in dietary fibers, protein, minerals, and antioxidants. They’re high in vitamins and help with cognitive health and immunity. For skin, they also help with skin cell growth and repair, and play a role in preventing premature aging. Most fascinating, they hold 1000x their weight in water -5x more hydrating than hyaluronic acid - which not only hydrates skin but also helps minimize collagen loss.
All of these mushrooms, and more, can be found in HEAR ME RAW’s Good Clean Fungi gentle scrubbing cleansing balm.
Why mushrooms are better than synthetic cleansers
There are other wonderful plant-based cleansers like coconut oil, avocado oil, jojoba and bakuchiol. There are also a host of synthetic and petroleum-based cleansing ingredients but they don’t pack the nutritional muscle that plant-based cleansers do and many of them can actually harm your skin and health.
From an efficacy standpoint, as was proven in the oil spill example, natural ingredients are every bit as effective, if not more, than synthetic ingredients. On top of that, synthetic ingredients have none of the wonderful nutrients like those found in the mushrooms above. They’re just dead chemicals with no nutritional value whatsoever.. And while they might be great for your floors, cars, or kitchen counters, they don’t belong anywhere near or on your skin.
Synthetic cleansing ingredients to avoid:
- Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) & Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES): Technically “detergents” and foaming agents they’ve been found to be irritants and potentially cause skin problems and hair loss. Some studies suggest risk of being co-carcinogens or carcinogenic.
- DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (Monoethanolamine), and TEA (triethanolamine): Also used as foaming and thickening agents, they too have been linked to cancer with repeated and prolonged use.
- Petroleum-based ingredients: These include mineral oil, petrolatum, polyethylene glycol (PEG), polypropylene glycol and butylene glycol are all petrochemicals, derived from crude oil. They coat the skin like plastic, clogging its pores. This can be incredibly harmful because it interferes with skin’s ability to eliminate toxins, therefore increasing likelihood of acne and other disorders.
So, with all the baggage and potential health concerns of synthetic ingredients, why are they used? Because they’re cheap, plentiful and easy to manufacture. But is that really a good reason?
With all these potential risks of synthetic ingredients, and the nutrient-rich and highly effective benefits of mushrooms, it’s no wonder why brands and consumers are suddenly fawning over fungi. So, experience the amazing cleansing power of mushrooms with Good Clean Fungi, our Quadruple-Mushroom Gentle Scrubbing Cleansing Balm.