MYCO ClLINIC topicals with mushroom closeup images

Why Mushrooms are the Next Big Thing in Topicals

The skin, our largest organ, serves as the body’s first line of defense. It is imperative that it is protected and nurtured so it can do its job. For this reason, it is crucial to include beneficial ingredients for the skin in topical formulas.

That’s why the bioactive properties of mushrooms have attracted nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and cosmeceutical companies in recent years. Their general chemical properties all encourage healthy skin—some with higher concentrations than others.

This article will focus on the most common benefits that enhance topical formulas.

How Can Functional Mushrooms Contribute to Skin Health in Topical Formulas?

Closeup of white woman with croppted forehead rubbing cream on her shouldher

Many conventional topicals on the market contain a myriad of synthetic ingredients that can exacerbate skin concerns or cause excessive dryness. For this reason, natural ingredients like functional mushrooms have become a premium replacement to minimize reactions while also nurturing the skin.

Functional mushrooms contain a range of common properties excellent for skin health including:

  • Antioxidative
  • Anti-inflammatory
  • Immunomodulating
  • Humectant
  • Emollient
  • Antibacterial
  • And more

These properties make mushrooms an ideal ingredient for topical agents, especially for people with sensitive, aging, or damaged skin.

Antioxidant Properties of Mushrooms and Healthy Skin for All Ages

White woman putting sunscreen on her shoulder, back facing the front

Due to the buildup of harmful free radicals, the skin becomes more susceptible to oxidative stress as it ages. The free radicals can steal oxygen from cells, which causes inflammation. Moreover, the free radicals can expedite the aging process.

Antioxidants, on the other hand, are thought to both inwardly and externally slow the damage, and even help the skin repair.

Since mushrooms are loaded with antioxidants, they may stave off or reduce the free radicle damage that causes thin, dull skin.

Mushrooms contain:

  • polyphenols, a family of chemicals with antioxidant properties among other properties to beneficial for fighting external aggressors
  • complex polysaccharides (beta glucans), which contain humectant properties (i.e., they draw moisture to the skin)
  • triterpenes in mushrooms contain antioxidant activity, which may help relieve inflammation and provide neuroprotection
  • selenium, which helps the body destroy peroxides, which can harm tissues and DNA, leading to inflammation and other health issues. It can also support hair, skin, nails, and bone health.

In addition, some species of mushrooms include an additional antioxidant called L-ergothioneine, which not only has antioxidant properties but also stimulates cell regeneration, increasing the amount of elastin and collagen production in the skin.

They also contain adaptogenic properties, which can act similarly to antioxidants. Adaptogens assist the body respond to stress healthily and maintain homeostasis by supporting the endocrine system. When applied topically, the adaptogenic properties are thought to assist the skin in fending off environmental aggressors and maintain balance in a similar manner.

All of these properties, among many more, can support any topical formula from skin health to pain relief.

Anti-inflammatory Properties in Functional Mushrooms

closeup of white person dabbing cream on red spot on arm

Functional mushrooms contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties that may alleviate various health concerns, including our largest organ, our skin.

Mushrooms have been shown to help people manage skin conditions caused or exacerbated by inflammation.

This has included:

  • Eczema
  • Psoriasis
  • Dermatitis
  • Allergic reactions
  • Acne

In vitro and in vivo animal studies have also shown implications for pain exacerbated by inflammation, with a particular interest in lion’s mane and cordyceps.

Humectant and Emollient Properties of Mushrooms

closeup of white woman splashing water on her face and hair

β-glucan polysaccharide

β-glucan polysaccharide extracts are attributed to the bulk of the health benefits of mushrooms, both externally and internally.

An in vitro study published in 2019 verified that despite the significant molecular weight of β-glucans, they can penetrate the skin through intercellular space (the space between the cells). This allows the β-glucans to form a thin film above the stratum corneum and epidermis to help the skin maintain moisture.

Ceramides in mushrooms

Ceramides are waxy lipid molecules present in both botanicals (including mushrooms) and skin cells to help prevent water loss. For this reason, they are commonly use as epidermal hydrating agents in topical formulas.

It may not seem relevant to topical pain relief formulas, but it is more important than you might think. Many topical formulas contain drying ingredients, which can exacerbate skin concerns or even the pain itself.

Ceramides in topical formulas provide a lipid barrier in the skin that prevents the epidermis’ water from evaporating. They can be synthetic or natural, including animal derivatives.

Since, mushrooms extracts contain ceramides, topical and skincare formulators have taken interest in them as a “clean” ingredient for today’s consumers who are attracted to vegetarian, environmentally friendly products.


MYCO ClLINIC topicals with mushroom closeup images

To recap, functional mushrooms have long since been proven to support the body. Now, they are recognized for their benefits topically. Their ample anti-inflammatory properties, antioxidants, emollient, and humectant properties, among many others, make them a premium ingredient in the next generation of topical formulas.

MYCO CLINIC’s pain relief topicals were formulated based on 20 years developing naturally sourced OTC products. We are the first on the market to offer naturally sourced pain relief topicals featuring functional mushrooms exclusively to healthcare providers.

If you are a licensed healthcare practitioner and you have not tried MYCO CLINIC yet, you’re invited to register for your free samples

Dasgupta A, Acharya K. Mushrooms: an emerging resource for therapeutic terpenoids. 3 Biotech. 2019;9(10):369. doi:10.1007/s13205-019-1906-2 

Feingold, KR. Thematic review series: Skin Lipids. The role of epidermal lipids in cutaneous permeability barrier homeostasis. Journal of Lipid Research. 2007;48(12):2531-2546. Accessed January 17, 2023.   

Kozarski M, Klaus A, Jakovljevic D, et al. Antioxidants of Edible Mushrooms. Molecules. 2015;20(10):19489-19525. Published 2015 Oct 27. doi:10.3390/molecules201019489 

Kozarski M, Klaus A, Jakovljević D, Todorović N, Wan-Mohtar WAAQI, Nikšić M. Ganoderma lucidumas a cosmeceutical: Antiradical potential and inhibitory effect on hyperpigmentation and skin extracellular matrix degradation enzymes. Arch Biol Sci. 2019;71(2):253-64. Accessed January 12, 2021. 

Smiderle FR, Baggio CH, Borato DG, et al. Anti-inflammatory properties of the medicinal mushroom Cordyceps militaris might be related to its linear (1→3)-β-D-glucan. PLoS One. 2014;9(10):e110266. Published 2014 Oct 17. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110266 

Wang C, Liu X, Lian C, Ke J, Liu J. Triterpenes and Aromatic Meroterpenoids with Antioxidant Activity and Neuroprotective Effects from Ganoderma lucidum. Molecules. 2019;24(23):4353. Published 2019 Nov 28. doi:10.3390/molecules24234353  

Wu Y, Choi MH, Li J, Yang H, Shin HJ. Mushroom Cosmetics: The Present and Future. Cosmetics. 2016; 3(3):22. 

Other suggested reading 

Liu, H.; He, L. Comparison of the moisture retention capacity of Tremella polysaccharides and hyaluronic acid. J. Anhui Agric. Sci. 2012, 40, 13093-13094. 

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 

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