If Cold Weather Is Dulling Your Complexion, This Skin Care Ingredient Could Help

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Although colder weather brings the holiday season and our beloved sweater weather, your skin tends to suffer a bit as the lower temperatures leave your skin drier and more dull. This is why mushrooms in skin care products should undoubtedly be a part of your beauty routine, as they've been a secret weapon to combat dull skin for centuries.

Recognized for their healing properties both inside and out, brands like Youth To The People and Dermalogica are infusing their products with the good-for-you ingredient with benefits including anti-aging, brightening, calming, and hydrating.

Ahead, check out why mushrooms are great for your health and for your skin, and the products that have mastered the formulation.

"Mushrooms have actually long been a part of skincare when it was found that shiitake mushrooms are a great source of kojic acid, which lightens the skin," Dr. Robert Finney, MD, of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City says. Various topical preparations containing an array of mushroom extracts have demonstrated their ability to reduce inflammation and serve as an antioxidant as well. "One study also showed that beta-glucan, which is found in mushrooms, helped to improve the skin barrier, thus making it a great option for anyone with sensitive skin," Dr. Finney adds.

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The vegetable is also extremely high in amino acids when applied topically. "Mushrooms are specifically high in the essential acids lysine and leucine," Marisa Plescia, NakedPoppy Research Scientist and cosmetic chemist says. "Both lysine and leucine may help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and may help in wound-healing." Plescia also says that mushrooms, such as reishi, contain high levels of terpenes, which she says have been shown to help promote skin renewal and rejuvenation, and has even been shown to help combat skin damage and inflammation caused by UV radiation.

Additionally, mushrooms are great sources of many vitamins and minerals such as potassium, zinc, iron, vitamin D and vitamin B3. "They can help skin cell growth and repair, while also aiding in a variety of skin concerns including uneven skin tone and texture and can improve skin hydration and elasticity," Plescia says.

And while there are plenty of mushrooms out there, luckily, we don't have to sift through every strain to determine the one best for skin. "Manufacturers and skincare companies have filtered out the best of the best to include in their products," Josie Holmes, esthetician at Skinney Medspa in New York City says. "Each strain of mushrooms has individual properties and benefits. For example, chaga mushrooms are perfect for oxidative stress and preventing the spread of infections, shiitake mushrooms can decrease irritation, reduce inflammation and assist in skin brightening, and reishi mushrooms are great for anti-aging, antioxidant, and brightening benefits."

Additionally, according to Dr. Caren Campbell, MD, FAAD, a San Francisco-based dermatologist, there is some evidence that mushrooms can also inhibit melanin production which could help with hyperpigmentation of the skin.

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Mushrooms are often paired with alpha or beta hydroxy-acids, which act as exfoliants to help improve acne or dark marks, Dr. Finney says. "All things considered, they can be a good addition to different cosmeceuticals for patients to try, but are not a mandatory addition to anyone’s skincare regimen."

And while mushrooms contain a high variety of skin-beneficial nutrients, they're not strong sources of vitamin C, which is why Plescia suggests incorporating that alongside the mushrooms. "Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant and can address a multitude of skin concerns including fine lines and wrinkles plus skin tone and texture. So, pairing it with mushroom ingredients can render optimal benefits."

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"There are some reports that oral ingestion of certain mushrooms can help reduce inflammation and allergic responses that could translate to the skin," Dr. Finney says. However, he says, there are no well-designed trials that exist to support the use of oral mushroom supplementation for skin health. Dr. Campbell agrees. "Some mushrooms are rich in Vitamin D and help with the microbiome," she says. "Additionally, mushrooms are a good source of fiber, but these are benefits helpful for overall health which indirectly helps the skin. I wouldn't consume more mushrooms with the sole aim of improving skin's appearance."

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Dr. Robert Finney of Spring Street Dermatology in New York City

Marisa Plescia, NakedPoppy Research Scientist and cosmetic chemist

Josie Holmes, esthetician at Skinney Medspa in New York City

Dr. Caren Campbell, MD, FAAD, of San Francisco

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