Fungi For Your Face

By Josie Garthwaite

You might think of fungus as the last thing to benefit your complexion, but a growing body of research suggests mushrooms may soon play a starring role in luxe skincare products. Keep an eye out for lotions and potions infused with these skin-saving ’shrooms.

Tremella. This mushroom, also known as shirokikurage or silver ear, has a long history as a tonic for youthful skin. In China, an imperial concubine known for her unmatched beauty is said to have used it daily, and science now supports claims that it can soften skin. Tremella absorbs high amounts of moisture (up to hundreds of times its weight in water) and smoothes without a heavy feeling. Look for it in light facial moisturizers like Aquamella Cream from Maitake ($49.95, 2 oz; maitake.com).

Maitake. Long overshadowed by oats and other grains, maitake mushrooms offer another healthy source of beta-glucan, a compound known for its anti-inflammatory effects and antioxidant activity. Calming creams, like Novaurora’s repairing and toning lotion ($13, 2 oz; auroranova.com), come stocked with maitake’s healing properties.

Shiitake. Perhaps the best known of the beauty-boosting fungi, shiitake mushrooms are packed with a natural lightening agent called kojic acid, which brightens skin and evens out pigment problems like age spots by inhibiting production of melanin. You’ll find it in face peels, under-eye treatments, and rejuvenating tinctures, including Suki’s facial toner ($22.75, 5.1 oz; sukisnaturals.com).