Monday, September 13, 2010

An Introduction to Cosmetic Applications of Mushrooms

In Asia, mushrooms have been used as food and medicine for thousands of years now. In old China and Japan, their goodness was appreciated so much that they were reserved for royal families. It is no surprise that these mushrooms are now proposed as highly active ingredients in cosmetic products.

But in the western culture, the consumer is more suspicious about mushrooms. To introduce such ingredients in cosmetic products, you need to be sure of the nature and origin of mushrooms, because some of them could be dangerous. So you need a specialist to certify the good choice of safe mushrooms and also to confirm their benefits.

Pleurotus eryngii is well known for its multiple benefits and it is a slow growing, very durable mushroom. Its consumption would appear to reduce cholesterol levels and has been attributed anticancer properties with a high nutritional value and a high level of vitamins, proteins, beta glucans and non-saturated fatty acids. Yin tonic in traditional Chinese Medicine, it is considered to rejuvenate and strengthens the skin, boosting resistance against signs of ageing. The same claims for other mushrooms present in the formula, such as "Cordyceps", known for it's energetically properties, and the Japanese mushroom "Reishi" for its capacity to "wake-up the organism" and known as a booster of longevity.

Food research and development continue to have a specific interest in mushrooms, in particular in analyzing the properties of beta glucans, a biologically active polysaccharide (work of Institute of chemical Technology in Prague, Czech Republic) present in such vegetables (source : An. Fletcher, 17/05/2005, "Prague stakes claim as a vital centre of food science"). "Cultures that consume a lot of mushrooms such as Chinese and Japanese tend to have long life spans, so we are investigating this". The Prague's Institute of Chemical Technology is looking to find out whether this beta-glucan can improve human immunity systems.

One can quote many different products on the cosmetic market, which contain mushroom extracts:

Johnson & Johnson under the brand Aveeno/Active Naturals recently launched a new line of skin care products named "Positively Ageless". (See the "Exfoliating cleanser" below). The company chooses to formulate and communicate with active ingredients such as shiitake and reishi mushrooms to strengthen their position in the anti-aging products area. As reishi, shiitake is also a well known Japanese mushroom used for its said immuno-stimulant properties.

Even in make-up, REVLON, in its last anti-aging foundation "Age Defying" uses a "Botafirm complex" with Fomes officinalis (mushroom) extract mixed with other vegetables and flower extracts. "Botafirm" is said to "reduce fine lines by 50%, in two weeks", which is a strong claim for a make-up product.

Consequently, today the interest and knowledge of the benefits derived from vegetal ingredients, for the skin, are continuing to grow in research and cosmetic development fields. Once again, the trend of using organic and natural products is being followed.

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