Mushrooms are part of the fungi family. They have been used for health and beauty applications by different cultures for thousands of years. Today, scientific data proves that certain mushrooms provide a host of skin restoring benefits.
Edible mushrooms are healthy fungi that can meet many of our skin care needs naturally. Certain types offer multiple benefits, including antiaging, detoxifying, hydrating, and brightening effects. They also help restore sun-damaged, dry, and wrinkled skin with powerful blends of antioxidants, vitamins, and polysaccharides. Many mushrooms can also heal and calm acne and rosacea-prone complexions with anti-inflammatory nutrients.
Some mushrooms offer superior skin hydrating properties, due to high concentrations of ceremides and polysaccharides, which help it to retain moisture. This may be hard to believe, but studies demonstrate that the Tremella mushroom (also known as the snow mushroom, golden jelly fungus, or yellow trembler), which is commonly used in traditional Chinese dishes, has comparable or even better water holding capacities than hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is a component of human skin which diminishes as we age, has been called the “youth molecule.”
As we grow older, our skin cells also naturally accumulate toxins, which often leads to premature aging and inflammatory conditions like acne and rosacea. Mushrooms have ability to purify skin cells by stimulating superoxide dismutase production. This enzyme plays a key role in cellular detoxification. It helps to slow the aging process as well.
Even mushrooms found in grocery stores like portobello (agaricus bisporus), shiitake (lentinus edodes), and oyster (pleurotus species citrinopileatus), help to reduce free radical damage with powerful antioxidants, which can also heal and hydrate the skin. For example, the familiar portobello mushroom, in addition to antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, also helps improve hyperpigmentation by reducing melanin content and inhibiting tyrosinase activity (melanin production).
Most edible and medicinal mushrooms have high concentrations of anti-inflammatory nutrients like phenolic and indolic compounds, mycosteroids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals. As we know, inflammation is a natural response of the immune system to stress related to physical, chemical, and pathogenic skin damage.
Mushrooms are rich in beta-glucans which have the ability to modulate the immune function. They help to rejuvenate and firm the skin by stimulating cellular regeneration. They also have the ability to reduce oversensitivity.
Most edible mushrooms like truffles and morels contain high concentrations of vitamins D and B, which are known to support the skin and improve elasticity. Truffles are a wonderful, but pricey source of essential amino acids, vitamins B1, B2, and B3, as well as polysaccharides like lentinan and eritadentin and skin moisturizing and protecting ceremides.
The maitake mushroom (grifola frondosa) helps reduce wrinkles and firms the skin by stimulating collagen production. I often perform face and neck massages using sliced, organically grown, raw maitake and oyster mushrooms during a facial. This procedure gently exfoliates, hydrates, and visibly brightens the skin. It works well for clients with rosacea, and for those with even the most sensitive skin.
Ganoderma lucidum or reishi mushroom grows on trees and is a part of the ganoderma group of fungi. Reishi has been called mushroom of immortality for its powerful antiaging properties. Reishi extract supports sensitive skin and helps skin become more resilient. It contains ganoderic acid, which offers skin restoring and antioxidant nutrients, as well as triterpenes, a steroid-like molecules that inhibit the release of histamine — which help to decrease inflammatory skin reactions. It is a good source of vitamin D2 and skin firming trace minerals, like copper and selenium, as well as amino acids leucine and lysine.
Another magnificent tree mushroom is chaga. It grows on white birch trees in northern countries. Extracts of chaga have been used for centuries for their powerful healing, antiaging, and anti-inflammatory properties. The chaga mushroom contains over 200 phytonutrients, polysaccharides, betulin, triterpenes, vitamins K, D2, B1, B2, B3, essential minerals, ionized trace minerals, and amino acids. It can stimulate self-repair, as well as balance mechanisms in the skin.
At your spa, you can incorporate fresh tea, or a decoction made from reishi or chaga mushrooms into face masks and warm compresses. Doing this will benefit any complexion. You can also create face masks from scratch by mixing dry powdered mushrooms into a natural base.
Clients will love the results they get from a truffle infused oil face massage. Make tea from dry morels or soak them in warm water until they start looking like small, soft sponges. Then, use them for a face-hydrating and a polishing mushroom treatment.
Elina Fedotova is the formulator and CEO of Elina Organics, an award winning cosmetic chemist, and aesthetician. She hand makes her professional skin care line in her laboratory using holistic principles and organic ingredients from around the world. In 2007, she founded the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners (AHSCP); a nonprofit organization that provides ongoing training and education for professionals.
The cosmetic chemist and licensed aesthetician shares her love for clean, holistic skin care products and why they matter in the treatment room.
Elina Fedotova is very grateful to her clients for inspiring her during their facials to formulate corrective and clean products based on holistic principles. Fedotova believes that being both an aesthetician and cosmetic chemist is her secret for success. Twenty-two years after starting her company, she still to this day works in the treatment room. She finds it hard to imagine how to formulate effective skin restoring products without working directly on the skin. In 1998, after she opened her first spa, aestheticians and healthcare professionals started to approach Fedotova on learning more about corrective holistic techniques and clean skin care products. In 2007, she founded the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners to provide education for professionals and to create a network of people who were seeking to practice healthy beauty. During this journey, she met wonderful friends and dedicated professionals who work with her products all around the country and abroad. Fedotova believes you should only start a business if you cannot imagine your life without it. Fedotova affirms that if a skin care professional’s practice is based on love, continuous research, and hard work, they will succeed.
Ambra Lift is a bio-energized, skin elixir which contains extracts of Baltic amber, marine and silk peptides, hyaluronic acid, and other effective skin nutrients. It visibly lifts, energizes, tones, and firms skin. It is scientifically proven to produce antiaging, anti-wrinkle, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant effects after two applications of Ambra Lift over a period of 48 hours. For more information, please call 269-384-9080 or visit elinaorganicsskincare.com.
Skin care professionals all know that to achieve desirable corrective results for clients, skin care professionals need to choose the most effective treatment products and protocols available. This is impossible without analyzing a complete list of ingredients and not just what is featured on the front of the bottle. Usually, featured ingredients look very good, but skin care professionals need to know what base they are dissolved in and what else is in there.
WHY IT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND PRODUCT INGREDIENTS
Knowing the complete composition of a cream or serum selected for a client is very important in order to avoid undesirable ingredients and outcomes. For example, if a client has a topical sensitivity to substances like silicone or aspirin, make sure that the formulas selected does not contain dimethicone or any other hard to pronounce word that ends in “cone,” because they are all derivatives of silicone. For those sensitive to aspirin, watch out for salycilic acid or concentrated extract of aspen or willow bark because they contain natural substances called salicylates, which are chemically similar to aspirin.
Looking at just the featured ingredients on a product label can often be misleading. When looking at websites, brochures, or flyers produced by cosmetic companies, notice how they usually focus on only beneficial, healthy, and safe ingredients. For example, a night cream description may include resveratrol, vitamin C, or some botanical extracts, but only by reading the actual label will one discover what kind of emulsifiers, preservatives, emollients, and solvents are used in that particular formula. Remember, the first ingredient listed indicates the highest content of that substance in the product and the last ingredient contains the least.
When selecting a product line to work with, make sure that it is not only effective, but completely safe. Professionals absorb more skin care product than any of their clients because they apply and massage them into their clients’ faces and bodies all day long. It is not wrong for a professional to feel like they must protect themselves from the creams and lotions used on their clients during a procedure? It is one thing to use gloves during cleansing and extractions, but as a holistic aesthetician, it can be hard to deliver therapeutic, energy balancing massages, including acupressure, in gloves. It can be difficult to energetically connect with clients.
THE IMPORTANCE OF EDUCATING CLIENTS
How can skin care professionals encourage clients to use a particular skin care line if they are unfamiliar with the ingredients in those products? Aestheticians must stay up-to-date with the vast amount of research and new ingredients that continue to flood the market. Even after even the best facial, send a client home with corrective, nourishing skin care products that will improve their skin on a daily basis and deliver visible results. To do this, the skin care professional must be able to explain why they need to use a particular formulation and what role each ingredient will play in the restoration of their skin – be the expert.
Start by analyzing the product label together. Discuss with the client how particular ingredients will help improve hyperpigmentation or deep wrinkles or reduce excess sebum production. Bring to their attention the absence of parabens, artificial dyes, fragrances, and other harsh chemicals in the formulations suggested. Encourage them to practice clean beauty. After leaving the spa, they can compare the products they purchased to mass produced department store labels and they will love their skin care professional even more.
Today, skin care professionals work with clients who read articles about the benefits of different trending ingredients. Often they will ask questions about whether or not they will benefit their complexion. If unable to provide answers, the skin care professional risks not only losing credibility, but the client, as well.
In this article, it would be hard to talk about all the beneficial ingredients; however, here are some of the most common ingredients in the industry, as well as some personal favorite natural ingredients.
DRY AND MATURE COMPLEXIONS
When working with a client who has dry, mature skin, make sure that the skin care products chosen contain powerful humectants. These include hyaluronic acid, tremela (snow mushroom) extract, aloe vera, vegetable glycerin, and natural alpha hydroxy acids, as all of these ingredients help to hydrate the skin. Also, make sure that moisture in the skin will be locked in and protected by good, natural emollients like shea and coco butters or grapeseed and other organic plant oils.
Organic vegetable glycerin is a clear, colorless, and odorless liquid with a sweet taste. It is made from plant oils, is water-soluble, and is a food-grade cosmetic ingredient. Glycerin works on the skin as a humectant and emollient at the same time. It helps to hydrate and seal moisture into the skin and is also a wonderful, natural solvent for botanicals.
Some other favorite ingredients for dry complexions include the following.
Organic Watermelon Extract: “Watermelon is loaded with antioxidants like vitamin A, vitamin C, and lycopene,” says Dr. Joshua Zeichner, the director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. In fact, watermelon extract is a better source of lycopene than tomatoes. Watermelon extract not only hydrates the skin and helps prevent and reduce free radical damage, it hydrates, firms, brightens, and soothes the skin, as well.
Camel Milk: Camel milk is one of the latest trends in natural skin care ingredients. It works better than goat milk for masks and other formulations. Camel milk is rich in natural alpha hydroxy acids, which help exfoliate and hydrate the skin. It also a contains a beautiful blend of skin-firming nutrients, vitamins, and proteins. Because camels live the desert and sometimes must walk for several days without food or water, the milk the females produce has a dense concentration of nutrients.
Peptides: Peptides are fragments of proteins with short chains of up to 50 amino acids that can signal the body to regenerate different types of proteins, including collagen and elastin. Because of this they can deliver many antiaging and skin restoring benefits. Recent research shows that each type of peptide works in a very specific way to deliver a particular benefit to the skin, including firming and tightening, lightening, hyperpigmentation reduction, and the relaxation of overactive facial muscles.
Extracts of Wild Mushrooms: “Mushrooms are rich in B complex vitamins, which can do everything from calm inflammation to brighten the skin,” says Dr. Zeichner. White truffle extract is a pricey skin restoring ingredient. In addition to offering a blend of antioxidants, it has a high concentration of vitamin B, which is essential for protein synthesis. Niacin or vitamin B3 is water-soluble and sparks cellular metabolism and DNA repair.
The much more affordable extract of shiitake mushroom is also an effective ingredient. In addition to its hydrating and skin brightening effects, it has also been shown to induce the production of superoxidase dismutase (SOD) and glutathione peroxidase (GPx). Both of these antioxidant enzymes are known for their ability to decrease the effect of oxidative stress on the skin. Other beneficial mushroom extracts include blends of different wild mushrooms like chaga, reishi, maitake, and morels.
ACNE AND ROSACEA
Problematic complexions like acne and rosacea call for skin ingredients with detoxifying, antibacterial, and calming properties.
Salicylic acid naturally occurs in aspen and willow bark extract and other botanicals. It is an effective ingredient for inflamed complexions.
Fulvic acid that is naturally extracted from special types of soil benefits the skin with a nutritious cocktail of trace minerals and electrolytes, which help nourish and heal rosacea-prone complexions.
Classic botanicals for problem skin include burdock root, calendula, plantain, St. John’s wort, dandelion root, and milk thistle. Research shows that skin care formulations containing extract of milk thistle help calm inflammation and reduce hyperpigmentation due to the presence of silymarin flavonoids.
Cannabidiol (CBD) extract can benefit any complexion. It calms and soothes irritated, sensitive skin. It is also a powerful antioxidant that can help restore sun damaged and aging complexions.
CBD is one of over 80 compounds called cannabinoids extracted from the cannabis sativa plant and is the non-psychotropic component of hemp. A 2014 study explored the effects of CBD on human sebocytes, the cells that create sebum. The findings showed that CBD helped balance sebum production.
Most creams and lotions on the market are made from a blend of water-soluble and oil-soluble skin nourishing ingredients. As skin care professionals know, oil and water do not mix naturally. For them to bond together, they need emulsifiers. This is what helps create a creamy substance called an emulsion. Conventional emulsifiers for personal care products often include chemical mixtures with long complicated names like sodium laureth sulfate, carbomer, PEG-20 stearate, propylene glycol, stearyl alcohol NF, polysorbate 80, and many others. To learn more about the properties and side effects of these ingredients, information can be found online on the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) database and Environmental Working Group website. The Environmental Working Group is a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.
Silicone-based emulsifiers like dimethicone have recently become quite popular among formulators. Dimethicone creates a silky coat over the skin and improves the spreadability of creams and lotions. The Food and Drug Administration has approved the use of dimethicone in over-the-counter products.
However, it is not recommended to use dimethicone in formulations because it forms a saran wrap-like film over the skin. One of the main functions of the largest organ of the body is elimination, but dimethicone and other silicone-based ingredients can create a greenhouse effect over it, trapping impurities like sweat and sebum under this non-biodegradable coating.
To avoid skin irritating chemicals, work with natural emulsifiers like lecithin, a food-grade phospholipid emulsifier. Phospholipids are fat molecules which are able to create emulsions by binding water and oils together. In addition to forming emulsions, they can help active ingredients penetrate more effectively. During the emulsification process, they create liposomes, which act as vehicles for botanical extracts, vitamins, and minerals. Liposomes then deliver these nutrients through the stratum corneum to nourish the live cells of the skin.
One option is sunflower lecithin, which is also popular in the food industry, due to its emulsifying and antioxidant properties.
Stearic acid is a natural vegetable wax and excellent thickener and emulsion stabilizer for lotions and creams. It also adds a silky feel to skin care products and helps with spreadability.
Skin care products need to be protected from the proliferation of pathogens (harmful bacteria) and yeast (fungi).
Unfortunately, many conventional preservatives are not only toxic to bad bacteria but to humans, as well. For this reason, scientists continue to look for safe, skin friendly, antimicrobial substances to use as preservatives. Happily, many formulators have started to avoid parabens and other chemical preservatives with questionable reputations.
Phenoxyethanol is one of the most common conventional cosmetic preservatives used today. It is a paraben, formaldehyde-free, and is approved for use around the world. Often, it is combined with sorbic acid to protect formulations from getting moldy.
Willow and aspen bark extracts are rich in salicylates, which help to naturally protect cosmetic and personal care products from contamination.
Black currant extract is another botanical preservative. It that can be used to reduce the load of conventional preservatives in a formulation or can be combined with other natural antimicrobials to protect skin care products. Ribes nigrum or black currant is a small fruiting shrub native to Europe and Russia with dark purple and very delicious berries. It is rich in vitamin C and other vitamins. Phytochemicals extracted from black currant have antimicrobial properties and can successfully help to preserve cosmetic and personal care products. They also contain high concentrations of antioxidants, ellagitannins, and anthocyanins, which are polyphenols and help to heal and calm the skin.
Today natural preservatives are often made with the help of probiotics, friendly bacteria that promote a healthy skin microbiome and improve its protective barrier. Those skin nourishing preservatives are created by fermenting aloe, radish, or coconut extracts with lactobacillus. In addition to antimicrobial and antifungal properties, this natural and effective multifunctional preservative helps to hydrate the skin.
Many essential oils have historically been used in beauty formulations not only for their sensual aromas but also as natural preservatives. All of them have antibacterial properties but some more than others. Essential oils, like cinnamon, clove, or oregano, help to protect skin care products from contamination because they have strong antimicrobial and antifungal properties. However, skin care professionals cannot fully rely on them, because they are volatile.
INGREDIENTS TO AVOID
Beauty and skin care products are designed to look beautiful, but many would argue that some of the ingredients they contain are not. According to United States researchers, one in eight of the 82,000 ingredients used in personal care products are industrial chemicals. They include carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, and hormone disrupters.
Of course, the only way to discover the plasticizers, degreasers, and surfactants included in many beauty products today is to be educated. While it would be impossible to list all questionable ingredients, here are a few to steer clear of.
Parabens: A group of chemicals called parabens, commonly found in lotions and other personal care products, may be more dangerous, even at low levels of exposure, than previously thought, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives in 2016. Parabens are used to preserve personal care products like shampoos, cosmetics, body lotions, and sunscreens. The problem is that they mimic estrogens, which have been linked to an increased risk of breast cancer and other reproductive problems. Alone, parabens have been considered safe; however, the study showed that when a particular type of paraben was exposed to human growth factors present in the body, they caused it to accelerate breast cancer cell proliferation.
Phthalates: Phthalates are a group of chemicals used to make plastics more flexible and durable. Phthalates can also be used as solvents (dissolving agents) for other materials. They can be found in hundreds of products, including soaps, shampoos, hair sprays, and nail polishes. The hazards posed by these chemicals continue to be studied by several government agencies. At least one type of phthalate is considered to be an endocrine disrupter that can cause cancer, while others have been shown to interfere with human reproduction or development.
Fragrance: The word fragrance conjures up images of flowers and exotic oriental oils. In truth, the Environmental Working Group reports that, while popular perfumes, colognes, and body sprays may contain trace amounts of natural essences, the rest of the product is a potpourri of potentially hazardous, synthetic chemicals. “A rose may be a rose,” reports the Environmental Working Group. “But that rose-like fragrance in your perfume may be something else entirely, concocted from any number of the fragrance industry’s 3,100 stock chemical ingredients, the blend of which is almost always kept hidden from the consumer.” In order to protect trade secrets, fragrance makers are not required to list their ingredients on the label. “Among them are chemicals associated with hormone disruption and allergic reactions and many substances that have not been assessed for safety in personal care products,” If they continue not using organic skin care products, the scent of the formulations used likely contains some of these chemicals, which do not contribute to healthy skin.
Nanoparticles: Nanoparticles are so small they can only be seen under an electron microscope. They are often used to create translucent sunscreens with zinc and titanium oxide. Zinc oxide offers broad-spectrum protection and is a physical sunscreen. In its natural state, it is a white pigment that can leave white marks on the skin and that is why, since 2008, some companies started to grind zinc oxide into tiny nanoparticles to achieve translucent sunscreens. But, in this form, zinc oxide is not as safe and effective. Human and animal studies show that inhaled nanoparticles can gather in the respiratory tract. Moreover, animal studies show that nanoparticles can invade the bloodstream and move onto other organs.
Being aware of the ingredients in products used in the spa, as well as understanding which are beneficial and which should be avoided, is crucial for client safety and optimal results.
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Elina Fedotova is the formulator and CEO of Elina Organics, an award-winning cosmetic chemist, and an aesthetician. She handmakes her professional skin care line in her laboratory using holistic principles and organic ingredients from around the world. In 2007, she founded the Association of Holistic Skin Care Practitioners (AHSCP), a nonproﬁt organization that provides ongoing training and education for professionals. We know that beauty is more than skin deep and that a person is much more than a physical body. Our well-being requires mental clarity, positive emotions, whole food, and a clean environment. By taking a “whole-listic” approach to health and personal care, we can continuously feel and look our best, care more about our resources, and help create a harmonious life for all.
Fulvic acid is not yet widely known or used in the skin care industry, but it is one of the most effective and healing ingredients available.
With a gentle pH of 3.2, fulvic acid can be taken internally. It can also serve as an acid peel, while healing and energizing the skin. A fulvic acid peel can simultaneously deliver mild exfoliation and reduce redness. Various concentrations of fulvic acid can be used and liquid fulvic acid can also be applied to the skin undiluted.
Fulvic acid is a component of humic substances, which are formed naturally during the decay of plants. Do not mistake fulvic acid for folic acid, which is a synthetic form of vitamin B.
Fulvic acid appears to assist in every stage of cellular rejuvenation.
It helps to neutralize toxins and transport nutrients to skin cells. By improving cellular metabolism, fulvic acid can reduce inflammation and diminish wrinkles. After a single application, it also helps brighten, tone, and rejuvenate the skin.
Because fulvic acid improves the general health and resilience of the skin, it is beneficial for every complexion type and can be incorporated into daily skin care regimens and used year-round. Since it is anti-inflammatory, antiviral, and antimicrobial, it has the ability to address multiple issues, including acne and rosacea. Fulvic acid is a powerful antioxidant, so it is helpful for sun-damaged and aging complexions, as well. Its natural electrolyte content helps to energize and restore the skin.
Fulvic acid comes in a liquid form, also known as fulvic minerals. It can also be found in a more concentrated powder form. Both liquid and powdered forms of fulvic acid can be mixed together to achieve a stronger liquid solution for the skin. This can be used in place of an acid or enzyme peel.
Because it has a skin-friendly pH, it does not need to be neutralized. It can simply be removed with water. The best way to use it is by itself.
Fulvic acid is considered appropriate for sensitive, acne-prone complexions. Most acne cases are related to an overgrowth of pathogens on the skin. The antimicrobial properties of fulvic acid help to reduce inflammation, while providing a supportive environment for beneficial bacteria (probiotics) to help normalize and balance the skin microbiome, which is essential for
When clients use a skin mist with fulvic acid directly on their skin, they often notice an immediate reduction of redness and itching. Therefore, professionals can suggest that those with acne-prone complexions mist their skin during the day – after strenuous exercise, stressful situations, or when they find themselves in unsanitary environments – to prevent future outbreaks.
Formulations with fulvic acid work well, even if sprayed over a natural foundation or makeup powder made from powdered sea pearls and zinc oxide. However, it will not work properly if used over conventional foundations made from synthetic ingredients.
Fulvic acid can also be a wonderful solution for clients with rosacea. It helps to naturally calm and reduce the inflammation of blood vessels in the skin. Like any acid, it can create temporary photosensitivity, so recommend sunscreen to clients.
CORRECTIVE FULVIC ACID FACIAL
The following is a corrective fulvic acid facial that is adjustable for different complexions.
By understanding the benefits of fulvic acid and accurately assessing the condition of a client’s skin, gentle treatments can be applied and added to any skin care regimen.
Red clover grows wild in Europe, Asia and the U.S. This perennial herb is beneficial for anti-aging formulations and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It contains numerous nutrients including calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, phosphorus, potassium, thiamine and vitamin C.
Herbalists use red clover oil to treat skin conditions like acne, rosacea and eczema. The red flowers contain therapeutic isoflavones that simulate the effects of estrogen in the body. Women have a history of using red clover to restore hormonal balance.
Traditionally vitamin K is considered to be a key beauty vitamin, along with vitamins A, C and E. In fact, the discovery of vitamin K was hailed with a Nobel Prize in 1943. It is often used in five percent concentrations in skin care formulations for stretch marks, scars, rosacea and couperose because it improves the elasticity of blood vessels.
In my practice, I love to use formulations with vitamin K on the eye area because it provides noticable results in the reduction of dark circles and puffiness. There is a theory that under-eye darkness is caused by fragile under-eye capillaries that allow blood to seep into skin.