I’ll go ahead and say it: Mushrooms are controversial. Yet, while they’re oft-plucked from pizza, and shunned on account of their unsavory birthplace, fungi are nevertheless amassing a fanbase — in the skincare world, that is.
Plenty of mushrooms may sound familiar when it comes to beauty routines, including lion’s mane and cordyceps; these varieties have made their way into drinkable elixirs, thanks to their purported ability to contribute to a lit-from-within glow. Recently, yet another ‘shroom has sprouted in the beauty lexicon, and it also promotes glowing skin. It’s called snow mushroom — and, luckily for those who’d rather not ingest their fungi, the benefits can be reaped from topical application.
“Tremella Fuciformis, also known as snow mushroom, belongs to the jelly fungus family,” notes Candace Keefe, Lead Consultant of Innovation and Science at AMPERSANDTM, a skincare brand and early adopter to the snow mushroom trend. The gummy white fungus, which resembles a blanched truffle mushroom, has been used in traditional Chinese Medicine for centuries. “It was reserved for royalty and the rich who could afford this highly prized and valued fungus,” Keefe shares. Today, non-royals can glean its benefits, which range from hydration to antioxidant protection.
According to Keefe, these skin perks come courtesy of snow mushroom’s unique polysaccharide compounds. Polysaccharides are molecule chains comprised of sugars; If they sound familiar, perhaps it’s because you’ve read about them in relation to hyaluronic acid. (If not, read up on the skincare superhero.) Similar to the polysaccharides in HA, those in snow mushroom moisten skin by holding on to H₂O — and lots of it. “Snow mushroom’s compounds have extraordinary water-retaining properties,” Keefe notes, “with a water-holding capacity of 500 times its own weight.”
Ergo, it’s no wonder skincare brands are capitalizing on snow mushroom’s hydrating properties. Take, for instance, the Volition® Snow Mushroom Water Serum ($65), which also contains vitamin B5 for maximum moisture retention. (Learn more about B5, plus other B vitamins to look for in your skincare products.)
Another difference between snow mushroom and HA is particle size. The molecules of Tremella Fuciformis are generally smaller, which allows for deeper absorbency — and, consequently, longer-lasting hydration. For maximum absorption, try a ‘shroom-spiked sheet mask, which will seal in deep moisture. We’re fond of the Joanna Vargas® EuphoriaTM mask ($75 for five), which also contains aloe vera to help soothe. Or, snag a serum like AMPERSAND RefreshTM Serum ($65), which contains both hydrating superheros.
In addition to maintaining moisture, snow mushroom can also fight premature skin aging. This is because those polysaccharides can also stimulate the production of an enzyme called superoxide dismutase. Explains Keefe, “These enzymes prevent wrinkling and sagging by [protecting against] oxidative damage.” Translation: snow mushroom imparts antioxidant properties.
I’m looking forward to adding a new crop of skincare superfoods to my array of heavy-hitting hydrators. Heck — maybe I’ll even give cordyceps coffee a try next time.
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