Mushroom Cosmetics: The Present and Future
Yuanzheng Wu 1,2, Moon-Hee Choi 1, Jishun Li 2, Hetong Yang 2and Hyun-Jae Shin 1,*
1Department of Chemical Engineering, Graduate School of Chosun University, Gwangju 501-759, Korea;
firstname.lastname@example.org (Y.W.); email@example.com (M.-H.C.)
2Biology Institute of Shandong Academy of Sciences, Jinan 250014, China; firstname.lastname@example.org (J.L.);
*Correspondence: email@example.com; Tel.: +82-62-230-7518
Academic Editor: Enzo Berardesca
Received: 12 May 2016; Accepted: 4 July 2016; Published: 8 July 2016
Mushrooms have been valued as a traditional source of natural bioactive compounds
for centuries and have recently been exploited for potential components in the cosmetics industry.
Numerous mushrooms and their ingredients have been known to be beneﬁcial to the skin and
hair. The representative ingredients are as follows: phenolics, polyphenolics, terpenoids, selenium,
polysaccharides, vitamins, and volatile organic compounds. These compounds show excellent
antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, skin whitening, and moisturizing effects, which make them
ideal candidates for cosmetics products. This review provides some perspectives of mushrooms
(and/or extracts) and their ingredients presently used, or patented to be used, in both cosmeceuticals
for topical administration and nutricosmetics for oral administration. With the small percentage of
mushrooms presently identiﬁed and utilized, more mushroom species will be discovered, veriﬁed,
and cultivated in the future, boosting the development of relevant industry. Combining with progress
in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and systems pharmacology, mushrooms can ﬁnd their way
into cosmetics with multiple approaches.
mushrooms; cosmetics; cosmeceuticals; nutricosmetics; anti-aging; antioxidant; skin
whitening; moisturizing; skin and hair
Mushrooms are fungi belonging to the higher phyla Ascomycota and Basidiomycota that
have a stem (stipe), a cap (pileus), and gills (lamellae, sing. lamella) on the underside of the
]. In fact, the name mushroom refers to a fruiting body, formed by several hyphae that
grow upwards and produce spores (basidiospores). Mushrooms have long been appreciated for their
ﬂavor, texture, and nutrition as culinary mushrooms, but also for pharmaceutical and tonic attributes
as medicinal mushrooms [
]. The number of mushroom species on Earth is currently estimated
at 150,000, yet perhaps only 10% (approximately 15,000 named species) have been identiﬁed [
Mushrooms are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, and excellent sources of
thiamine, riboﬂavin, niacin, panthothenic acid, and folic acid, etc. [
]. It has reported that mushrooms
provide beneﬁcial effects as invigorating vital energy, maintaining one’s optimal weight, favoring
longevity, and avoiding unnecessary aging [
]. Recently mushrooms have drawn worldwide
attention as the most interesting natural sources with diverse and unique bioactivities, including
immunomodulatory, antioxidant, anti-inﬂammatory, antidiabetic, antibacterial, antifungal, antiviral,
antitumor, hepatoprotective, reducing glucose and lipidic levels [
]. They make up a vast, and yet
largely untapped, source of powerfully new pharmaceutical products.
Cosmetics are products that are used to cleanse and beautify the skin, also referred to as personal
care products [
]. Today, there is a growing consumer demand for cosmetics containing natural and/or
organic ingredients as the consumer demand for products that are perceived as healthier, organic,
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22; doi:10.3390/cosmetics3030022 www.mdpi.com/journal/cosmetics
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 2 of 13
and ecological [
]. Thus, various substances extracted from macro fungi, particularly mushrooms,
are now paving their way into cosmetics, such as ceramides, lentinan, schizophyllan, omega 3, 6,
and 9 fatty acids, carotenoids, resveratrol, and others [
]. Many mushroom ingredients possess
potent antioxidant, as well as anti-inﬂammatory, properties, which are frequently used in an effort
to address cosmetic concerns, such as ﬁne lines, wrinkles, uneven tone, and texture. As shown in
Figure 1, the nutritive, anti-inﬂammatory, regenerative, and antioxidant properties of mushrooms
make for their prospective usage in cosmeceuticals and nutricosmetics .
Cosmetics 2016, 3, 22 2 of 13
organic, and ecological . Thus, various substances extracted from macro fungi, particularly
mushrooms, are now paving their way into cosmetics, such as ceramides, lentinan, schizophyllan,
omega 3, 6, and 9 fatty acids, carotenoids, resveratrol, and others [14,15]. Many mushroom
ingredients possess potent antioxidant, as well as anti-inflammatory, properties, which are frequently
used in an effort to address cosmetic concerns, such as fine lines, wrinkles, uneven tone, and texture.
As shown in Figure 1, the nutritive, anti-inflammatory, regenerative, and antioxidant properties of
mushrooms make for their prospective usage in cosmeceuticals and nutricosmetics .
Figure 1. Major applications of mushroom in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and nutrition, and
In this review some major ingredients of mushrooms and important effects, such as moisturizing
and anti-aging (including the whitening and antioxidant activity), will be comprehensively
discussed, and it will be proposed that mushrooms and their extracts (and/or ingredients) are one of
the most ideal choices in the application of cosmetic products.
2. Mushrooms: Nutritional and Medicinal Facts
For centuries, people across the world have been using wild mushrooms for food, medicine, and
cosmetics, as well as for other economic and cultural purposes. Nowdays several types of mushrooms
are incorporated in topical creams, lotions, ointments, serums, and facial preparations as cosmetic
ingredients. These mushrooms include Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Maitake (Grifola frondosa),
Reishi or Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum), Fu Ling (Wolfiporia extensa), Yartsa Gunbu (Cordyceps sinensis),
cauliflower mushroom (Sparassis latifolia, formerly Sparassis crispa), and jelly fungi (Tremella spp.),
which are traditionally used in Eastern Asian countries, such as China, Japan, and Korea [17–19].
Portobello mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), oyster mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus), elm oyster
mushroom (Hypsizygus ulmarius), and tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius), are more recognized in
Western countries [20–22]. Other popular mushrooms include Agaricus subrufescens, Coprinus
comatus, Hericium erinaceus, Mycoleptodonoides aitchisonii, Phellinus linteus, Schizophyllum commune, and
Volvareilla volvacea [23–26]. There are numerous potential mycochemicals from mushrooms that could
be used in cosmeceuticals or nutricosmetics. Some of the mycochemicals derived from various
mushrooms and their corresponding activities are listed in Table 1 [27–31]. There are still plenty other
mushroom species which might have significant potential for use in the cosmetic industry that are
currently undetermined, undescribed, or not yet cultivatable [14,32].
The topical extraction process of mushroom ingredients can also be used for cosmetics
preparation. Both fruiting bodies and mycelia of wild and cultivatable mushrooms represent ample
sources of active components. The compounds so obtained from mushrooms are relatively complex
mixtures of metabolites, in liquid or semisolid states, or in dry powder form, and are intended for
Major applications of mushroom in pharmaceutical, cosmetics, and nutrition,
and their interactions.
In this review some major ingredients of mushrooms and important effects, such as moisturizing
and anti-aging (including the whitening and antioxidant activity), will be comprehensively discussed,
and it will be proposed that mushrooms and their extracts (and/or ingredients) are one of the most
ideal choices in the application of cosmetic products.
2. Mushrooms: Nutritional and Medicinal Facts
For centuries, people across the world have been using wild mushrooms for food, medicine,
and cosmetics, as well as for other economic and cultural purposes. Nowdays several types
of mushrooms are incorporated in topical creams, lotions, ointments, serums, and facial
preparations as cosmetic ingredients. These mushrooms include Shiitake (Lentinula edodes), Maitake
(Grifola frondosa), Reishi or Lingzhi (Ganoderma lucidum), Fu Ling (Wolﬁporia extensa), Yartsa Gunbu
(Cordyceps sinensis), cauliﬂower mushroom (Sparassis latifolia, formerly Sparassis crispa), and jelly
fungi (Tremella spp.), which are traditionally used in Eastern Asian countries, such as China,
Japan, and Korea
. Portobello mushroom (Agaricus bisporus), oyster mushroom (Pleurotus
ostreatus), elm oyster mushroom (Hypsizygus ulmarius), and tinder fungus (Fomes fomentarius), are more
recognized in Western countries [
]. Other popular mushrooms include Agaricus subrufescens,
Coprinus comatus,Hericium erinaceus,Mycoleptodonoides aitchisonii,Phellinus linteus,Schizophyllum
commune, and Volvareilla volvacea [
]. There are numerous potential mycochemicals from
mushrooms that could be used in cosmeceuticals or nutricosmetics. Some of the mycochemicals
derived from various mushrooms and their corresponding activities are listed in Table 1[
There are still plenty other mushroom species which might have signiﬁcant potential for use in the
cosmetic industry that are currently undetermined, undescribed, or not yet cultivatable [14,32].
The topical extraction process of mushroom ingredients can also be used for cosmetics preparation.
Both fruiting bodies and mycelia of wild and cultivatable mushrooms represent ample sources of
active components. The compounds so obtained from mushrooms are relatively complex mixtures of
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 3 of 13
metabolites, in liquid or semisolid states, or in dry powder form, and are intended for external or oral
use for cosmeceuticals or nutricosmetics. The mushroom extracts are often cited as potent antioxidants
and natural moisturizers because they can offer a slightly different set of absorbable nutrients than
other typical ingredients like vitamin C, vitamin E, and all of the other usual suspects [
]. They contain
antioxidants, as well as compounds that have anti-inﬂammatory properties, which help treat many
skin problems caused by inﬂammation and excessive free radical activity.
Table 1. Mycochemical analysis and activities from various mushrooms.
Mycochemicals Mushroom Species Activities References
Alkaloids Agaricus bisporus,Coprinus comatus,
Pleurotus ostreatus,Volvareilla volvacea
Anti-inﬂammatory, Antioxidant 
Carbohydrate Agaricus bisporus,Lyophyllum shimeiji,Pleurotus
ostreatus,Termitomyces eurhizus,Volvareilla volvacea Antimicrobial 
Flavonoids Lactarius deliciosus,Lentinus edodes,
Macrolepiota mastoidea,Russula griseocarnosa
Anti-inﬂammatory, Antioxidant 
Glycosides Flammulina velutipes,Grifola frondosa,
Hypsizigus mamoreus,Lentinus edodes,Pholiota nameko
Anti-inﬂammatory, Antioxidant [17,25]
Agaricus bisporus,Lentinus edodes,Phellinus linteus,
Pleurotus ostreatus,Sparassis crispa,Tricholoma equestre
Anti-inﬂammatory, Antioxidant [16,27]
Agaricus bisporus,Coprinus comatus,Lentinus edodes,
Pleurotus ostreatus,Sparassis crispa, Volvareilla volvacea
Saponins Agaricus bisporus,Ganoderma lucidum,Pleurotus
ostreatus,Termitomyces albuminosus,Wolﬁporia cocos Anticancer, Antioxidant 
Steroids Agaricus subrufescens,Marasmius oreades,Panellus
serotinus,Pleurotus eryngii,Stropharia rugosoannulata Anti-inﬂammatory 
Tannins Agaricus bisporus,Lentinus edodes,
Lentinus sajor-caju,Volvareilla volvacea Antimicrobial, Antioxidant 
Ganoderma colossum,Lepista nuda,
Naematoloma sublateritium,Panellus serotinus,
Scleroderma citrinum,Tricholoma matsutake
2.1. Beneﬁcial Components of Mushrooms
Many studies have been done to ﬁnd out more about the different components in mushrooms that
are beneﬁcial to the skin. It was found that mushrooms contain many bioactive metabolites, such as
lectins, polysaccharides, phenolics and polyphenolics, terpenoids, ergosterols, and volatile organic
]. Mushroom polysaccharides, including lentian, schizophyllan, polysaccharide Kerstin
(PSK), and polysaccharide peptide (PSP), are now available on the pharmaceutical market. A large
amount, if not all, higher Basidiomycetes mushrooms contain biologically-active polysaccharides in
fruiting bodies, cultured mycelia, and cultured broth [22,34].
Mushroom chitosan is also widely used in cosmetology as an emulgatory, gel-forming, protective,
and anti-bacterial agent [
]. Chitin-glucan is a copolymer found in the cell wall of several mushrooms
with good moisturizing properties, can help ﬁght against some of the signs of skin aging, and has
potential for use in skin moisturizing and anti-aging formulations [
]. Tremella extracts make an exotic
addition to comprehensive skin care products which are applicable in treatment of neurodermatitis
and sclerodermatitis [
]. Some mushrooms are also used in biotransformation and the products
such as lactic acid and ceramides could potentially be used in cosmetics [
]. Lactic acid is an alpha
hydroxy acid used in cosmetic preparations in dermatology to hydrate and smooth dry, ﬂaking skin.
Ceramides are also used in cosmetics as epidermal hydrating agents, but they are expensive due to
scarcity. Some mushroom extracts are even capable of accelerating the skin turnover rate and repairing
dermal molecular components that provide structure and elasticity to the skin .
2.1.1. Phenolic and Polyphenolic Compounds
Phenolic and polyphenolic compounds are aromatic hydroxylated compounds, possessing
one or more aromatic rings with one or more hydroxyl groups, being commonly found in many
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 4 of 13
]. These compounds exhibit a wide range of biological effects due to free radical
scavenging and antioxidant activity. Phenolic compounds can be classiﬁed as simple phenols and
phenolic acids, such as gallic acid, kojic acid, benzoic acid, syringic acid, chlorogenic acid, and other
associates, and polyphenols, which are further classiﬁed into many groups, such as ﬂavonoids, tannins,
stilbenes, and so on [
]. Kojic acid is commonly found in several mushrooms which is useful as a
natural skin lightener and has been added to creams, lotions, and serums as a remedy for age spots
and discolorations [
]. Kojic acid is assumed to help inhibit melanin production on the surface of
treated skin, thereby lightening the new skin cells that form after the dead ones are exfoliated.
Flavonoids are the most common and widely distributed group of plant phenolics and have been
shown to be highly effective scavengers of most types of oxidizing molecules, including singlet oxygen
and various free radicals. The antioxidant activities are considered to be possibly involved in DNA
damage and tumor promotion [
]. Flavonoids can be classiﬁed into ﬂavonols, ﬂavones, ﬂavanols,
ﬂavanones, anthocyanins, and isoﬂavonoids. The health-promoting effects of ﬂavonoids have been
identiﬁed as antioxidant, anti-inﬂammatory, and anti-proliferative activities, inhibition of bioactivating
enzymes, or induction of detoxifying enzymes .
Terpenoids are a large and diversiﬁed group of organic compounds similar to terpenes, derived
from ﬁve-carbon isoprene units. Most known terpenoids in mushrooms were found in Ganoderma spp.,
containing a wide range of terpenes and terpene derivatives, such as ganodermic and ganoderic acids,
ganoderals, ganoderols, ganodermanontriol, lanostane, lucidone, and ganodermanondiol, which show
immumomodulating and anti-infective activities [
]. Carotenoids are widely used in cosmetics,
especially in sun lotions, which are organic pigments found in many mushrooms and can be split into
two classes, xanthophylls and carotenes .
Selenium (Se) is an ultra-trace essential element for mammals and essential in different
selenoproteins and/or selenoenzymes. Agaricus bisporus and Lentinus edodes are edible mushrooms
that accumulate Se in their bodies [
]. Selenium compounds in selenized garlic such as
-glutamyl-Se-methylselenocysteine and Se-methylselenocysteine (MeSeCys) are potent anti-tumor
]. Selenium can beneﬁt bone health and strengthen the teeth, hair, and nails, which is widely
applied in shampoo.
Most of mushroom polysaccharides are homoglycans or heteroglycans (depending on types of
monosaccharide molecules in polysaccharides) and are able to combine with other proteins to make
peptidoglycan or polysaccharide–protein complexes. Polysaccharides, especially
which have anti-cancer properties have been found in numerous fungi and are used in cosmetics,
e.g., in Pleurotus spp. [
-(1-3)-D-Glucan with triple helical structure was ﬁrst isolated from
the fruiting body of Lentinus edodes in the late 1960s in Japan [
]. Since then schizophyllan from
Schizophyllum commune, lentinan from Lentinus edodes, protein-bound PSK from Coriolus versicolor,
-(1-6)-D-glucan from Agaricus subrufescens have been isolated by different groups [
Lentinan is an active compound incorporated in cream which can stimulate the immune system,
strengthening its ability to ﬁght infection and disease [
]. All these polysaccharides showed
immune-modulation activity and some have been incorporated into cosmetics products.
3. Cosmetics: Category and Progress
Cosmetics can be classiﬁed into two categories of cosmeceuticals for topical application and
nutricosmetics for oral one. Cosmeceuticals applies only to products applied topically, such as creams,
lotions, and ointments, while nutricosmetics are known with similar perceived beneﬁts but that are
ingested orally (so-called inner beauty). There are many requirements for cosmetics products, but most
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 5 of 13
importantly they should be safe to use, with no side effects, and have positive effects on the skin.
In recent years, natural products have attracted extensive attention in cosmetics. There are numerous
products from fungi that are being exploited in cosmeceuticals or nutricosmetics, and many potential
products are yet to be used [
]. Shiitake mushroom, alone, has several applications in cosmetics,
ranging from an exfoliant to an anti-inﬂammatory, encourages faster skin renewal, and increases skin
elasticity as a skin brightener. Reishi mushrooms have been used in anti-aging skincare products since
the 1980s, starting with Japanese brand Menard. In the early 2000s, mushrooms hit the Western market
for skincare applications. Mushroom extracts, capsules, and oils are also used for topical applications
as they offer their own anti-aging skin care beneﬁts. Some of cosmetic products containing mushroom
extracts or ingredients are summarized in Table 2. In the following section, we will focus on the effects
of moisturizing, anti-aging, and skin whitening of mushrooms and their ingredients afterwards.
Table 2. Cosmetic products containing mushrooms and their ingredients.
Product Name Mushroom/Extract Included Function
Aveeno Positively Ageless Daily Exfoliating
Cleanser, U.S. Lentinula edodes Lift away dirt, oil and makeup and ﬁght
signs of aging
One Love Organics Vitamin D Moisture
Mist, U.K. Lentinula edodes
Part lightweight moisturizer and part toner
Osmia Organics Luz Facial Brightening
Serum, U.S. Lentinula edodes extract Skin looking bright and luminous
CV Skinlabs Body Repair Lotion, U.S. Ganoderma lucidum Wound-healing and anti-inﬂammatory
Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom
Skin Relief Face Mask, U.S. Ganoderma lucidum Anti-inﬂammatory properties
Four Sigma Foods Instant Reishi Herbal
Mushroom Tea, U.K. Ganoderma lucidum Immunity boost
Kat Burki Form Control Marine Collagen
Gel, U.K. Ganoderma lucidum Boost collagen, improve elasticity and
Menard Embellir Refresh Massage, France Ganoderma lucidum Skin anti-aging
Moon Juice Spirit Dust, U.S. Ganoderma lucidum Immune system
Tela Beauty Organics Encore Styling
Cream, U.K. Ganoderma lucidum Provide hair with sun protection and
prevent color fading
Yves Saint Laurent Temps Majeur Elixir De
Nuit, France Ganoderma lucidum Anti-aging
Vitamega Facial Moisturizing Mask, Brazil Agaricus subrufescens (also
known as A. brasiliensis)Renew and revitalize skin
Kose Sekkisei Cream, Japan Cordyceps sinensis Moisturizer and suppress
Root Science RS Reborn Organic Face
Mask, U.S. Inonotus obliquus Anti-inﬂammatory to help soothe
Alqvimia Eternal Youth Cream Facial Máxima
Regeneración, Spain Schizophyllum commune Anti-aging and lifting
Sulwhasoo Hydroaid, Korea Schizophyllum commune extract Hydrating cream promoting clear,
La Prairie Advanced Marine Biology Night
Solution, Switzerland Tremella fuciformis Moisturizer which nourishes, revitalizes
and hydrates skin
BeautyDiy Aqua Circulation Hydrating
Gel, Taiwan Tremella polysaccharide Moisturizing gel
Surkran Grape Seed Lift Eye Mask, U.S. Tremella polysaccharide Improve skin around eyes
Hankook Sansim Firming Cream (Tan Ryuk
Ganoderma lucidum and
Pleurotus ostreatus Make skin tight and vitalized
La Bella Figura Gentle Enzyme Cleanser, Italia Ganoderma lucidum and
Lentinula edodes extracts Antioxidants and vitamin D
Pureology NanoWorks Shineluxe, France Ganoderma lucidum,Lentinula
edodes, and Mucor miehei Anti-age and anti-fade
Snowberry Bright Defense Day Cream No. 1,
New Zealand Mushroom extract
Hydrate and illuminate dull skin, along
with anti-bacterial properties to help
Murad Invisiblur Perfecting Shield, U.S. Mushroom peptides Diminish ﬁne lines and wrinkles by aiding
regulation of collagen and elastin
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 6 of 13
Cosmeceuticals are cosmetic-pharmaceutical hybrids intended to enhance beauty through
ingredients that provide additional health-related function or beneﬁt [
]. Topically, they are applied
as cosmetics, but contain ingredients that inﬂuence the skin’s biological function [
]. The lines of
cosmeceutical products consist of both veterinary and human therapy. The main product lines of
veterinary cosmeceuticals are shampoos and anti-ectoparasites, among which Mera-pet (Merapet Inc.,
Ahmedabad, India) is probably the most popular brand in Western markets. The main product lines of
human cosmeceuticals are anti-aging, with a few anti-acne or moisturizing products. Common brands
include Bliss (Hut.com Ltd, Cheshire, UK), La Roche (F. Hoffmann-La Roche Ltd, Basel, Switzerland),
Nu-Derm (Obagi Medical Products Inc., Irvine, CA, USA), and SensiClear (Mission Scientiﬁc Skincare
Inc., Gold River, CA, USA). Almost all now include products related with mushrooms and mushroom
Nutricosmetics are nutritional supplements whose purpose is to support the function and the
structure of the skin. Characterized by oral supplementation of nutrients, nutricosmetics are also
known as “beauty pills”, “beauty from within”, and even “oral cosmetics”. The major claim is
the anti-aging effect, reducing wrinkles by ﬁghting free radicals generated by solar radiation [
Nutricosmetics are usually based on combinations of the following ingredients: carotenoids,
polyphenols, several vitamins, mushroom extracts (e.g., polyphenolic isoﬂavones), micronutrients,
glycopolyglycans, amino acids, other mushroom-based elements, and polyunsaturated fatty acids [
Some nutricosmetics examples are Grifola frondosa fruit body extracts with beneﬁcial inﬂuences on skin
quality and body exterior appearance, and Sparassis crispa oral supplements with healing effects on
diabetic wounds and synthesis of type I collagen and epithelization.
4. Moisturizing Effect
The water content of the stratum corneum and skin surface lipids are important factors in the
appearance and function of skin [
]. Moisturizers decelerate the loss of skin humidity and minimize
ﬁne wrinkles. They also increase hydration of the stratum corneum and improve physical and chemical
properties of skin surface, making it moist, smooth, and soft [
]. Traditional moisturizing ingredients,
such as pantothenic acid, 6-palmitoyl-L-ascorbic acid and hyaluronic acid, are known as an effective
moisturizing activity in cosmetic formulations.
The polysaccharide isolated from a hot water extract of a Tremella mushroom without adding a
chemical reagent was found to have a novel effect of inhibiting melanin formation effects and lightening
the spots on the skin when applied to the skin [
]. In addition, the Tremella polysaccharide showed
excellent moisturizing effects. Another study revealed that cosmetics added with 0.05% Tremella
polysaccharides had better moisture retention capacity than that added with 0.02% hyaluronic acid [
A carboxymethylated polysaccharide (CATP) derived from water-insoluble crude Tremella fuciformis
polysaccharide obtained a moisture retention rate of 65.7% after 96 h, which were slightly lower
than chitosan (70.3%). These results indicated the signiﬁcant moisture retention capacity of CATP
comparing to chitosan [
]. The moisture retention capacity of water extracts of Auricularia fuscosuccinea
(Montagne) Farlow was found as potent as that of sodium hyaluronate, but less than that of
Tremella fuciformis sporocarp extracts [
]. The mushroom powder of Fomes ofﬁcinalis (also known
as Laricifomes ofﬁcinalis) was applied to an anhydrous cosmetic composition for reducing the shiny
appearance of skin and improving the appearance of skin imperfections [
]. All of these showed
potential application of mushroom polysaccharides as effective moisturizing agents in cosmetics.
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 7 of 13
5. Anti-Aging Effect (Lifting and Firming)
Aging is a gradual process that results in a dysfunction and reduced reserve capacity of all body
]. Anti-aging research refers exclusively to slowing, preventing, or reversing the aging
process. Aging may be intrinsic or extrinsic [
]. Restated, the score of the aging process at any time
depends on the outcome of dynamic interactions between biological (intrinsic), psychological (intrinsic
and extrinsic), and environmental factors. The ﬁnal pathway to all of the mechanisms of aging is
apparently the same and involves disruption of the network of collagen and elastin [
cosmeceuticals are, therefore, designed to repair and/or maintain the body’s maintenance and repair
systems (MRSs) [
]. Antioxidants play a large role in the MRSs. Several types of mushrooms are used
in topical creams, serums, and facial preparations as anti-aging ingredients.
5.1. Antioxidant Activity
There have been numerous studies of antioxidant activity of mushroom with various application
in cosmetics. Lentinula edodes and Volvariella volvacea extracts demonstrate antioxidant activities
and free radical scavenging abilities [
]. This pharmacological effect is correlated with phenolic
compounds content in mushrooms as already known for grape fruits and wine [
]. Lentinula edodes
is also an inducer of superoxidase dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx), two
antioxidant enzymes which are known for protecting skin from oxidative damage and reversing
ﬁbrosis through reversion of myoﬁbroblasts back to ﬁbroblasts [
]. L-ergothioneine, a thiourea
derivative of histidine which could reduce the oxidation to mitochondrial membrane, was discovered
in high concentrations in Lentinus edodes,Pleurotus ostreatus,Pleurotus eryngii,Grifola frondosa,
and portabellas (brown Agaricus bisporus) [
]. The antioxidant and immune activity of glucan
from Phellinus ribis was evaluated in mice using lymphocyte proliferation assay [
]. The glucan
isolated from an alkaline extract from a somatic hybrid mushroom of Calocybe indica var. APK2 and
Pleurotus ﬂorida showed antioxidant properties with immune activation of macrophage, splenocyte,
and thymocyte [
]. Therefore it is not surprising that intrinsic antioxidant properties demonstrated
, with Ganoderma lucidum or Phellinus linteus can be transferred
consumption as food or nutriceutical food [7,80].
5.2. Anti-Wrinkle Activity
Wrinkle formation is one of the primary characteristics of skin aging; the major cause of ﬁne
wrinkles is the loss of structural protein (type I collagen) in the dermal layer of skin [
]. Elastase is a
metalloproteinase involved in the degradation of elastin in skin aging and the inhibition or the repair
of wrinkle formation while matrix metalloproteinases (MMPs) are induced by collagen and elastin
degradation. Extract of the mycelium of Tricholoma matsutake (pine mushroom) signiﬁcantly decreased
elastase activity in a dose-dependent manner and reduced the levels of MMPs [
]. These extracts might
prove to be an effective biomaterial for anti-wrinkle treatment in cosmetics products. The methanol
extract from the fruiting body of Dictyophora indusiata (veiled lady mushroom) was evaluated for its
anti-cholinesterase, skin anti-wrinkle and melanogenesis inhibitory activity [
]. The collagenase and
elastase inhibitory activities of the extract were comparable with the positive control epigallocatechin
gallate (EGCG), which suggested a good candidate natural anti-cholinesterase and skin care agents.
The pro-inﬂammatory catalytic activity of cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2) also plays a key role in the
aging process. COX-2 is a rate-limiting factor in the production of prostaglandins (PGs), including
prostaglandin E2 (PGE2), which causes vasodilatation and induction of other inﬂammatory mediators
in the skin [
]. Thus, COX-2 inhibitory compounds could potentially be very useful in a variety
of therapeutic and cosmetic applications. The hexane extracts of Grifola frondosa mycelia, consisting
of three ergosterol compounds, were reported with COX-2 inhibitory and antioxidant activities [
The ethanol extract of fruiting bodies of Elaphomyces granulatus (deer trufﬂe) was evaluated for their
COX-2 inhibitory activity in mouse macrophages RAW 264.7 revealing two active compounds of
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 8 of 13
syringaldehyde and syringic acid [
]. All of these could be incorporated as beneﬁcial compositions
against skin aging.
6. Skin Whitening Effect
White skin is an aspiration of every woman because it signiﬁes wealth and beauty, especially in
Asia. Melanin synthesis was the major source of skin color and played an important role in protection
of UV-induced dermal irritation [
]. The biosynthetic pathway for melanin formation in various
bioforms is mainly regulated by tyrosinase in two distinct oxidation reactions [
]. Basically, tyrosinase
catalyses the hehydroxylation of tyrosine to dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA) and the oxidation
of DOPA to DOPAquinone, which is further converted to eumelanin (brown-black pigment) or
pheomelanin (yellow-red pigment), depending on different physiological conditions. Thus, tyrosinase
inhibition is the most common approach to achieve skin whitening .
Many mushrooms have presented tyrosinase inhibition activity including Agaricus bisporus,
Agaricus hortensis,Ganoderma spp., and Phellinus baumii. The methanol extract from fruiting bodies of
Phellinus baumii showed inhibitory activities of tyrosinase and melanin synthesis by dose dependent
manner in B16/F10 melanoma cells [
]. Flammulina velutipes extracts were also demonstrated to
suppress melanin synthesis and tyrosinase activity in B16 murine melanoma cells [
to other basidiomycetes, Ganoderma lucidum exhibited the highest inhibition against tyrosinase
activity . Currently many of the facial mask cosmetics in the market contain Ganoderma extracts.
7. Hair Cosmetics
Hair cosmetics are designed to both maintain the hygiene of the scalp and manipulate the
structural properties of hair [
]. The formulations of hair cosmetics include shampoos, conditioners,
serums, hair styling products (sprays, waxes, gels, and mousses), straightening products, bleaching
agents, perming agents, and hair dyes [
]. Prescription medications, such as minoxidil and ﬁnasteride,
are often focused on improving scalp hair density [
]. Many postmenopausal women may achieve
a better cosmetic look if the medical prescription is combined with cosmetic hair care products,
which may increase hair ﬁber diameter in a nonpermanent way.
Shampoos are formulated for cleansing the hair and scalp and have been adapted to the
variations associated with hair quality, hair care habit, and speciﬁc problems, such as treatment
of oily hairs, dandruff, and for androgenic alopecia [
]. Tremella mushrooms contain a hydrophilic
agent—polysaccharide glucuronoxylomannan (GXM) with anti-inﬂammatory and wound-healing
properties largely used in cosmetology [
]. A small silk ﬁlm shiitake mushroom extract has been
included and patented as a haircare cosmetic composition. Another composition for promoting hair
growth in humans was issued with Ganoderma lucidum combined with three other plants and zinc
which could stimulate hair growth in a human male by diminishing dihydrotestosterone or prostatic
hyperplasia levels .
Like the rest of the body, healthy hair requires the delivery of vital nutrients to the hair follicles.
Deﬁciency of these nutrients, as well as external factors like harsh chemical treatments, unhealthy
lifestyle, and prolonged illness can cause hair problems. Mushrooms are a good source of vitamin D,
antioxidants and minerals like iron, selenium, and copper, which are all useful in both promoting
healthy and strong hair and preventing hair loss and dandruff. The inclusion of mushrooms and/or
extracts into haircare cosmetics is of great potential in the cosmetic industry.
As a traditional source of natural bioactive compounds, mushrooms are now being exploited
for potential ingredients in the cosmetics industry. Several mushrooms and their extracts are
either presently used or patented to be used as cosmetics products for their antioxidant, anti-aging,
anti-wrinkle, skin whitening, and moisturizing effects.
Cosmetics 2016,3, 22 9 of 13
As aforementioned, the mushroom species presently identiﬁed and utilized only account for
a small percentage of total amount, and more species will be discovered, veriﬁed, and cultivated.
All of these indicate further exploitation and boosting of the development of the cosmetic industry.
With interdisciplinary studies combined with genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and systems
pharmacology, the molecular mechanisms of medicinal effects of mushrooms (so-called the research
area of molecular cosmetology) will be revealed and more mushrooms can ﬁnd their way into cosmetics
with multiple approaches.
This study was supported with the support of Forest Science & Technology Projects (Project
No. S121314L080100, 2015) by Korea Forest Service. Yuanzheng Wu wishes to express his gratitude to the China
Scholarship Council (CSC) and the Young Scientist Exchange Program between the Republic of Korea and the
People’s Republic of China.
Yuanzheng Wu and Moon-Hee Choi wrote the paper; Jishun Li, Hetong Yang and
Hyun-Jae Shin revised the paper.
Conﬂicts of Interest: The authors declare no conﬂict of interest.
The following abbreviations are used in this manuscript:
CATP Carboxymethylated Polysaccharide
EGCG Epigallocatechin Gallate
GPx Glutathione Peroxidase
MMPs Matrix Metalloproteinases
MRSs Maintenance and Repair Systems
PGE2 Prostaglandin E2
PSK Polysaccharide Krestin
PSP Polysaccharide Peptide
SOD Superoxidase Dismutase
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