The use of shiitake in cosmetology

The use of shiitake in cosmetology

The history of using mushrooms as cosmetic ingredients dates back several centuries, and recipes for creams and lotions based on them have been passed down from generation to generation. Today, the scientific community is continuously studying the therapeutic properties of mushrooms, and modern cosmetics makers still use mushroom extracts in their products. Functional mushrooms are excellent natural adaptogens and antioxidants, each of which has unique and valuable properties for promoting health, prolonging youth and improving the quality of life.
Today we will talk about one of the mushrooms popular among cosmetics manufacturers — shiitake (Lentinula edodes). For more than a millennium, this mushroom has been grown in Japan and China for food and medicinal purposes. During the reign of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Chinese emperors took a decoction of shiitake to prolong youth and protect themselves from diseases, and masks from these mushrooms once formed the basis of cosmetics of Japanese geisha, known for their amazing complexion and velvety skin.

What are the beneficial effects of shiitake?

First of all, it is worth noting that shiitake has a high nutritional value. Every 100 g of dry mushroom contains 18.6 g of protein (this is higher than that of the “protein” record holders — white mushroom or fucus-shaped yeast). Of the 18 amino acids, eight are essential for the human body. Shiitake is characterized by a high content of fats, unsaturated fatty acids, polynucleotides, polysaccharides, minerals (calcium, phosphorus, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, magnesium and selenium) and vitamins. The composition of the mushroom also includes ergosterol (provitamin D, which can be converted into vitamin D2 by UV rays) and fungesterol.

From a medicinal point of view, shiitake has an impressive list of therapeutic effects:

  • immunomodulatory and oncoprotective effects;
  • antibacterial and antiviral activity;
  • antioxidant and adaptogenic effects;
  • probiotic activity and digestive stimulation;
  • normalization of carbohydrate metabolism and help in weight loss;
  • hepatoprotective effect;
  • normalization of lipid and cholesterol levels, prevention of atherosclerosis and thrombosis;
  • hypotensive effect and prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

These properties have proven to be useful not only when ingested, but also for external use in the form of various cosmetics.

How does shiitake cosmetics work?

It is believed that the first person to suggest the use of shiitake and other mushrooms in modern cosmetic products was Dr. Andrew Weil (Origins Cosmetics) in 2005. Today, cosmetic companies (among them Yves Rocher, Orlane, Sothys, Origins, Actifirm and other corporations) produce various care and anti-aging products based on shiitake extracts.
The rich nutritional composition of the mushroom (lipids, proteins, vitamins and trace elements) provides replenishment of the skin’s natural resources and hydration. And thanks to its immunomodulatory properties, shiitake-based cosmetics enhance local skin immunity, as well as have antibacterial, antiviral effects. It is especially important to note that shiitake extract shows high activity against human papillomavirus, including its oncogenic strains. It has been proven that the active substances of the fungus increase the number of NK cells (natural killers), preventing the development of tumors that can be caused by HPV infection.
Due to its pronounced probiotic activity, shiitake also helps to preserve the natural microbiome of the skin. In addition, cosmetics with shiitake extract have a whitening effect and help fight skin hyperpigmentation. The fact is that mushroom polysaccharides are able to suppress the enzyme tyrosinase, which is involved in the production of melanin.
But that’s not all. Shiitake contains the polysaccharide lentinan, which really rejuvenates the skin. In 2018 and 2019 studies, it was found that lentinan has a pronounced antioxidant and reparative effect on keratinocytes, the main cells of the skin epidermis. Polysaccharide suppresses oxidative stress by reducing the concentration of reactive oxygen species in skin cells, increases stress resistance, has a protective effect and stimulates regeneration in damaged cells.
Such biological activity is useful for slowing down the aging process and treating various inflammatory skin diseases, including psoriasis and dermatitis, conditions associated with oxidative stress, as well as for protection from environmental pollutants. However, it is important to understand that in some cases shiitake-based products cause an allergic reaction, since the therapeutic effect may initially manifest itself through exacerbation.

At the moment, the following lines are supported by various manufacturers of cosmetic products:

  • cosmetics for mature skin, active serums and anti-aging creams;
  • cosmetics for the correction of hyperpigmentation, bleaching agents — both in monovariant and in
  • combination with other depigmenting agents;
  • immunomodulatory additives in any cosmetic product that increase the level of local immunity;
  • additives in any cosmetic product to increase the skin’s resistance to various aggressive
  • environmental factors;
  • soothing cosmetics additives for irritated, inflamed skin;
  • additional antioxidant and photoprotective additives in any cosmetic product.

Is it possible to prepare shiitake cosmetics yourself?

As you have already understood, “culinary” shiitakes are not suitable for cosmetics. For these purposes, it is best to buy dried mushrooms or a ready-made polysaccharide fraction from them. Below you will find several recipes for using shiitake both in its natural form and as part of creams and other compositions. At the same time, it should be borne in mind that mushrooms of medicinal varieties or powder extract from them are useful in any form – they can be eaten just like that, prepare infusions, extracts and extracts from them, make ointments, creams and lotions, apply to compresses and lotions, use as a monopreparation or in combination with other means — anyway, it will have an exceptionally beneficial effect on the condition of your skin.

Lotion for oily skin care

Put whole dried shiitake mushrooms in a jar and pour a mixture of water and alcohol (2:1 ratio; you can use vodka that does not contain sugar). Soak for 2 weeks in a dark, cool place. Filter the finished infusion. It turns out to be a kind of lotion, ideal primarily for the care of oily, porous skin prone to acne, pustular diseases and redness.
Pour the amount of infusion required for one procedure into a cup, moisten a tampon in it and wipe the face, excluding the eyelid and lip areas. The procedure should be repeated in the morning and evening. The expected effect will come in two weeks — the skin will become matte and acquire a healthier color, the face will become fresher.

A toning mask for any skin type
Put whole dried shiitake mushrooms in a jar and pour a mixture of water and alcohol (2:1 ratio; you can use vodka that does not contain sugar). Soak for 7 days in a dark, cool place. The second option: pour 1 tablespoon of ready-made polysaccharides (dry extract powder) or 3 tablespoons of dried mushroom powder with one glass of hot water and insist in a dark place for 7 days.
Toning masks for any type of skin can be made from infusions prepared in this way and filtered. To do this, you need to thoroughly clean your face, apply any nourishing cream to your lips and lower eyelids (with dry skin, you can apply the cream to the entire face). Moisten the gauze mask abundantly in an infusion of shiitake and gently put it on the face. After 20 minutes, remove the mask and rinse off the remnants of the mask with cool boiled water.

Infusion of dried shiitake
Chop the mushrooms into small pieces, put them in a glass container, pour hot water a quarter of the height of the poured mushrooms and put them in a dark place for 7 days.
This infusion is an ideal base for masks. In its natural form, it effectively eliminates acne and pimples. To apply, moisten a gauze cloth in the infusion and apply it on the face. After 20 minutes, wash off the mask with cool water.

Shiitake tonic
Pour 3 parts of chopped dried mushrooms or 1 part of polysaccharide powder with 20 parts of vodka, put in a dark place for 10 days. Strain and use 2-3 times a week.

Mask for problem skin care
Mix 1 teaspoon of shiitake polysaccharide fraction and 1 tablespoon of oatmeal. Pour the resulting mixture with a quarter cup of warm water and let it stand for about an hour. Add 2 tablespoons of kaolin (white clay), mix everything, apply a mask for 30 minutes, rinse with warm water.
The mask nourishes, gently cleanses and whitens the skin, promotes normalization of lipid metabolism, moisture retention, restores vascular elasticity, prevents rosacea.

As you can see, shiitake-based cosmetics promote skin rejuvenation, reduce its sensitivity to a variety of adverse aggressive external factors, and also stimulate the regeneration and healing of the skin. And if you are interested in the therapeutic properties of this unique medicinal mushroom, then we have great news. Now you can order capsules and double shiitake extract in our FUNGILINE mushroom pharmacy. You can learn more about the indications and features of the reception on the website .
The article was prepared using materials from the book “Beauty from a Basket” by Mikhail Vladimirovich Vishnevsky.


M.V. Vishnevsky “Beauty from a basket”. — VKN. — 2015. — pp. 64-71.