Anti-Aging & Wellness Corner

Tremella Fuciformis Mushroom & Its Role in Beauty Formulas

The material soothes irritation and inflammation, and provides hydration.

The use of Tremella mushrooms in beauty goes back to the Tang Dynasty. Legend has it that during the eighth century, Yang Guifei—one of the four Beauties of ancient China—relied on Tremella fuciformis to maintain her glowing, youthful complexion. Mushrooms are rooted in Chinese culture and have been used in skin care and supplements for thousands of years. They are associated with correcting imbalances and restoring vitality. Mushrooms have been valued as a source of natural bioactive compounds for centuries and are potential actives in the cosmetic industry.

Tremella is more commonly known as Snow, Silver Ear, Snow Fungus or White Jelly mushroom. It is popular in Asian cuisines and skin care routines. With  Korean beauty regimens becoming more popular, this mushroom is now making its way into the cosmetic industry. The humble mushroom is suddenly one of the hottest ingredients in skincare. According to Transparency Market Research, the global mushroom market is growing 8.2% and will reach $69.3 billion by 2025.

This column reviews Tremella, its cultivation, properties, benefits and commercial products. Its white pale-yellow color and soft jelly-like texture is almost translucent. Its shape resembles coral. It grows in Asia, but is also found in tropical climates worldwide including South and Central America, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands.

Skin-Loving Ingredients

Tremella is rich in protein, ceramides, carotenoids, resveratrol, carbohydrates, dietary fiber, vitamin D, zinc, calcium and folate. All play a key role in immunity, bone health and brain development. Tremella soothes irritation, inflammation and provides hydration. It contains key actives that help nourish skin. Polyphenol is potent antioxidant that brightens skin and combats free radical damage that contributes to fine lines, wrinkles and discoloration. Tremella also has triterpenes, which are known to mediate inflammation. One study, published in the Archives of Dermatological Research, found that phenolic veratric acid, a compound found in Tremella, helps inhibit wrinkle formation by modulating MMPs, collagen and epidermal layer integrity; suggesting its potential use in UV-induced premature skin aging.

Tremella attracts and retains up to 500 times its weight in water, making it a powerful moisturizer. Its molecular structure allows it to penetrate deep into skin to provide long-lasting hydration. Tremella mushrooms have also been used in skin care as a brightening agent.1

Better than HA?


Tremella is said to be a more powerful humectant than hyaluronic acid.
Tremella can be found in skincare products throughout the world. What is particularly impressive about Tremella is its intense hydrating, healing and skin rejuvenating properties. In one study, Tremella was shown to have a greater moisture binding capacity than hyaluronic acid. When 0.05% Tremella polysaccharides were added to skin care products versus 0.05% hyaluronic acid, Tremella showed significant moisture retention ability, creating a supple and plump appearance of the skin, making it a wonderful alternative to hyaluronic acid.

Tremella mushroom holds 450 times its weight in water, so it is extremely hydrating to the skin. It has ability to lock in moisture and help increase blood flow, preventing degeneration of vessels under the skin that lead to dark circles. Tremella promotes skin elasticity which helps decrease the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. It aids in the natural production of collagen, a structural protein that gives skin density and volume. It forms a naturally flexible film that traps water and prevents it from escaping. This benefit restores dry skin to its optimally hydrated state, enabling it to better carry out key functions that keep it strong, supple and elastic.

Dermatologist Dendy Engelman, MD, the director of dermatologic surgery at Metropolitan Hospital in New York City, says Tremella acts similarly to hyaluronic acid by pulling moisture to the skin. Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. But, Tremella has an extra edge, because its particles are smaller than hyaluronic acid; hence, it penetrates skin more easily.

In a study conducted at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, scientists examined whether Tremella affects blood and liver lipid levels. After four weeks, scientists reported a significant decrease in LDL cholesterol. It has an unusually high number of antioxidants; ergothionine and glutathione. These powerful antioxidants provide support to protect from damage to prevent the formation of fine lines and wrinkles. Tremella contains Omega fatty acids and ceramides which can help build skin’s moisture barrier, preventing water loss and keeping hydration within the skin.

A 2014 study published in the Journal of Food Science found that polysaccharides content of Tremella reduced the effects of sun-induced aging on the skin. Scientists further found that its high uronic acid helped minimize collagen loss that was specifically caused by UV radiation. Mushrooms are a useful tool for healthy skin, used internally and topically, according to Karyn Grossman MD, a dermatologist in Beverly Hills, CA. Apart from its apparent hydrating abilities, Tremella mushroom is rich in fatty acids, which help retain moisture while stabilizing the skin barrier, according to Dermatologist Hadley King MD.2

Health Care Benefits

Mushrooms are found in everything from skin essentials to trendy wellness supplements. Fungi are increasingly touted as cure-alls by health and wellness gurus. According to Kate Seiberlich, CEO and founder of Üphoric Urth, there are more than 1.5 million different types of mushrooms. According to Dr. David Hibbett, professor of biology at Clark University in Worcester, MA, both penicillin and cholesterol-lowering statins were derived from fungi.

Tremella mushrooms are used in Ayurveda to treat wounds, especially burns, because they specifically stimulate cell growth. They are often ground into a paste and applied topically to the wound. Tremella is found in a plethora of face creams, serums and other skincare products. There has been a recent surge in beauty brands incorporating mushrooms into their formulas according to Elena Severin, director of brand partnerships at The Detox Market. Key skin benefits of Tremella mushrooms are hydration, wound healing, antioxidant protection, anti-aging, redness reducing, soothing, nourishing and skin brightening.

In 2005, Dr. Andrew Weil was the first to incorporate mushrooms into beauty formulas. Of course, marketing claims often go far beyond what is supported by the science. Still, here are mushroom-based skin care and some of their attributes: Fungi-powered beauty is trending, but research is limited to animal tests and in vitro studies. Although findings seem promising, human research is needed.

Every year a buzzy ingredient emerges as the “ruler” of the skincare world. In 2022, it’s time that they make way for Tremella fuciformis. 

References:
  1. Glamour Magazine.co.uk/article/snow-mushroom-skin benefits
  2. https://nayelle.com/snow-mushroom-best-hydrating-ingredient


Navin Geria
Chief Scientific Officer
Ayurderm Technologies, LLC
[email protected]
 
Navin Geria, former Pfizer Research Fellow is a cosmetic and pharmaceutical product development chemist and the chief scientific officer of AyurDerm Technologies LLC, which provides Ayurvedic, natural and cosmeceutical custom formulation development and consulting services to the spa-wellness-dermatology industries. He has launched dozens of cosmeceutical and ayurvedic anti-aging products. Geria has more than 30 years of experience in the personal care industry and was previously with Clairol, Warner-Lambert, Schick-Energizer, Bristol-Myers and Spa Dermaceuticals. He has nearly 20 US patents and has been published extensively. Geria edited the Handbook of Skin-Aging Theories for Cosmetic Formulation Development focus book published in April 2016 by Harry’s Cosmeticology. He is a speaker, moderator and chairman at cosmetic industry events. He is Director of R&D for S & A Technologies, Rolla, MO, responsible for developing new dermatological/cosmeceutical products and also participate in developing products resulting from National Institute of Health-funded research.

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