‘Shrooms: The New Fast Food For Skin

Navdeep Mundi lost a Sunday on a mushroom-infused beauty product diet. Here’s what she found

When you’re an obsessive skin care blogger, there’s nothing more exciting than embarking on a beauty counter chase for products with a new standout ingredient of the season. For me, right now is all about the ‘shrooms. Long valued for their inherent healing and anti-inflammatory properties (two tenets that sensitive skins will love), the curious mushroom pops up in traditional Chinese and Korean medicine. In fact, the first confirmed use of mushrooms dates back to the year 5300, when Ötzi the Iceman (the oldest known natural mummy) reportedly carried around hideously ugly Chaga mushrooms, presumably for medicinal purposes.

For the uninitiated, I’m not suggesting anyone buy a jar of the mushy fungus and slather its goo on your face. But I’m all for beauty products, designed specifically by mycologists (people who study mushrooms) that include a high concentration of indigenous mushroom extracts. With the wide range of options available now, I found myself centering a whole Sunday afternoon at-home spa session around the mighty fungus.

To start off, I used BlissMicro Magic Spa-Powered Microdermabrasion Treatment ($48) to give my face a good slough. Made with finely ground volcanic pumice, the exfoliator has a soft grit but is fully effective. The mushroom extracts help calm the skin from any overzealous scrubbing, which I’m prone to do. A quick rinse left me with pretty smooth skin. Next, I applied Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins

Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Face Mask ($38), which is tops for plumping up skin with a dose of moisture-replenishing herbs, like ginger and turmeric. It may be a mouthful to say, but I liked how the mask left my complexion looking fuller, cool, and rested. I will say the funky herbal scent made me cringe at first, but it faded pretty quickly. I tend to believe a good scrub should sting or burn in some way to make me feel like it’s working (which isn’t scientifically true, by the way), but I found this skin saver to be very moisturizing. Rosacea sufferers ought to now it’ll calm down the redness straight away.

Mushrooms are loaded with vitamin and minerals like calcium, zinc, copper, and magnesium, but some ‘shroom-infused products use mushroom-derived beta-glucans, which are powerful antioxidants that have been clinically proven to increase the rate of cellular regeneration. So I didn’t just treat with ‘shrooms—I wore them, too. Jurlique’s Nutri-Define Multi-Correcting Day Cream ($98) uses silver ear mushrooms that act as natural humectants to hydrate skin. As far as basic creams go, the lightweight white formula sunk into my skin quickly and didn’t have much of a scent (that’s good). Plus, I like that it doesn’t have an SPF, which necessitated my need for Amarte Skincare’s Ultra Veil SPF 50 ($45). Yes, the more mushrooms, I figured, the better. The Japanese meshima mushroom, which is in the sun protector, has been shown to yield antioxidant effects equivalent to Vitamin C. The texture is quite luxurious; it leaves no residue, chalkiness, or even greasiness after a quick spread and its semi-matte finish worked extremely well with my BB cream.

But my absolute favorite product used in my ‘shroom experiment is Sulwhasoo’s Essential Renewing Eye Cream ($109). It’s an eye treatment safe for sensitive skin, sensitive eyes, and contact-lens users. Rich in those regenerative beta-glucans and additional Korean medicinal herbs, the cream has a lotion-y texture and felt refreshing to apply. See? It’s not too complicated to get mushrooms into your skincare. Pour a glass of Roger d’Anoia Cava Brut and then tell me this isn’t a great way to spend Sunday.

A native Angeleno, Nav is a Leo, hates cilantro, and has been testing beauty products for print and digital magazines for nearly a decade. She spends her days working in media and strategy and her nights sniffing out slightly quirky yet impeccably pretty things along with her German Shepherd, Le Tigre.