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  • Writer's pictureLinda Conroy

The Surprising Benefits of Using Mushrooms for Skin Care

by Linda Conroy, MSS, MLSP

Mushrooms are becoming increasingly popular in the culinary world, the healing/natural medicine realm and as a fun foraging hobby. Many people are growing mushrooms, taking to the woods to find them and visiting farmers markets in search of local growers offering an increasingly wide assortment of fungi. While the goal is primarily to eat them, using mushrooms for medicine and healing is becoming widespread as the natural health industry embraces their healing power, which is revealed in fun and unsuspecting ways.

People are incorporating mushrooms into their daily routines and healing practices. Turning to both research and traditional uses of mushrooms, mycologists, myco-herbalists and body care manufacturers are adding mushrooms to common remedies for skin, hair and nail health. 

Many mushrooms offer overall benefits when applied topically. When supporting and tonifying the skin, it’s often their anti-inflammatory action and antioxidant qualities that provide benefits. Reducing inflammation when the skin is hot and irritated, as in the case of eczema and psoriasis, is one of mushrooms’ healing effects. 

Mushrooms have been found to have great natural moisturizing properties. Overall skin health is closely related to how moisturized the skin is. So, incorporating mushrooms into one’s skin care routine is a great way to boost complexion.

Mushrooms also contain beta-glucans, which are naturally occurring polysaccharides that soothe dry and itchy skin. These can penetrate multiple layers of skin, reaching areas that other ingredients cannot. Mushrooms also contain the antioxidants vitamin D and vitamin B3. Like humans, mushrooms convert sunlight to vitamin D on their surface. They can be a significant source of vitamin D, a nutrient not commonly found in the plant world. 

Specific mushrooms are known to have individual benefits, based on their properties. Research on Lion’s Mane (Hericium erinaceus) indicates that it can help heal the nervous system and has the capacity to support cell regeneration. While more research is needed, these preliminary studies encourage us to add these to our skin care routine to promote healthy cell growth. Also, as the skin is covered in many types of sensory nerve endings that allow it to sense touch, pain, temperature and pressure, Lion’s Mane can be incorporated into pain-relief remedies that can help to restore nerve damage. These nerves are part of the peripheral nervous system, which facilitates communication between the brain and the rest of the body. This mushroom directly affects this system. 

Another popular mushroom with a long history of traditional use in Chinese medicine is Reishi (Ganoderma lingzhi). This mushroom improves moisture retention and acts as a powerful source of antioxidants, making it a good candidate for skin health. Antioxidants help to protect the skin against oxidative stress that can lead to signs of aging, such as wrinkles, dark spots and sagging skin. 

It’s important to note that ingesting some mushrooms can also promote skin health. The nutrient profile of mushrooms reveals a wide spectrum of vitamins and minerals that can improve the health of the skin, hair and nails. Mushrooms also offer immune-boosting properties that can help with immune-driven skin conditions, such as eczema and rosacea.  

Reishi Mushroom Rehydrating Spray

As an herbalist who makes many skin care products, I like to incorporate mushrooms into soaps, body sprays, lotions, salves and serums. Here is a fun recipe to easily make at home, including homemade or purchased mushroom remedies.

To make tincture

Fill a jar with dried or fresh Reishi mushrooms.

Pour vodka over the mushrooms, covering completely in liquid. 

Leave to steep for 4-6 weeks, and strain.

To make rehydrating spray:

1 oz Reishi mushroom extract/tincture (homemade or purchased)

Filtered, spring, well or floral water

Add 1 oz of the Reishi extract to a 2-oz spray bottle and fill with spring, well or a favorite floral water. Rose water is a good choice, as it helps the skin to retain water. 

Always label preparations made at home with dates and ingredients.  

On hot summer days, it’s refreshing to place this in the refrigerator and have it be cool to spray on the skin. 

Linda Conroy, MSS, MLSP, dedicates her life to connecting with the green world, which she finds continually amazing. She is a practicing herbalist, providing herbal education, workshops and apprenticeships, as well as individual consultations and an online herb store. Conroy also holds two master’s degrees: one in social service and one in law and social policy. She is a community organizer and the founder of Moonwise Herbs, the Midwest Women’s Herbal Conference and Mycelium Mysteries Women’s Mushroom Conference, in September. For more information or to register, visit and

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