Is Chaga mushroom good for your skin?
The answer is a firm yes. As with any plant skincare ingredient, how effective it will be, depends on your skin. But, no matter what, the numerous nutrients in Chaga can address different skin concerns in a single application.
A superior skincare ingredient
Not all plant skincare ingredients actually do something useful in a formula. And even when they do, it’s not like everyone’s skin can reap the benefits.
Mushrooms, in general, are one of the rare plant ingredients that not only deliver on the promises they make but will also do so for a large number of consumers.
Free radical protection
Sun damage is one of the greatest culprits behind premature aging and other skin issues and illnesses.
Next to a cocktail of antioxidants, Chaga is also rich in melanin, the same pigment that exists in human skin, and serves to protect it from the UV rays.
These compounds are very effective in boosting collagen production as well.
Natural skin barrier repair
We damage our skin barrier with a bad lifestyle and harsh chemicals. That barrier is a thin lipid layer that sits on the surface of the skin and prevents moisture loss. When the barrier gets damages dry skin becomes dryer, oily skin oilier, and moisture loss leads to skin irritation and the formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
The lipids in Chaga are not only suitable for barrier repair, but they can also serve as a temporary defense.
Betulinic acid is very effective in reducing dark spots and improving skin firmness. It also promotes healthy inflammation response both when consumed and in topical care.
Chaga is very rich in this compound – its host, the birch tree, has a lot of betulin which in turn allows this mushroom to convert it into a lot of betulinic acid.
Inflamation and irritation reduction
Chaga is rich in riboflavanoids that have a potent anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. The same compound can soothe and provide temporary relief, as well as a long-term treatment.
Beauty from within
Topical products can only do so much, and sometimes we have the eat or drink our skincare.
Consuming Chaga mushrooms may have multiple benefits for the body as well, and it doesn’t hurt to attack your skin troubles from that front as well. However, be aware that anything that you consume for the sake of beauty will get to your skin, hair, and nails last. It’s first going to all the other organs that need nutrition as well.
Does Chaga have antiaging properties for the skin?
A resounding yes. Since it’s both packed with antioxidants, and very good at repairing the natural skin barrier, it can slow down or stop premature aging caused by sun damage, free radicals, pollution, and skin moisture loss.
Is Chaga good for problematic and acne-prone skin?
While it’s a resounding yes for the ingredient, it may be a big no for specific products.
Products with Chaga extract or oil are usually targeted at more mature and dry skin, therefore a lot heavier than what it would be suitable for yours. You can still go for a lighter delivery system like a toner or an essence, if available.
Is Chaga good for eczema?
Yes, and it has been used as a treatment for eczema for hundreds of years. Its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, as well as those same skin barrier friendly lipids, prove to be a good combination for eczema treatment.
What does Paula’s Choice have to say?
Those who are very serious (or even picky) about their skincare, by now know to consult Paula’s Choice website whenever they encounter a new skincare ingredient and/or claim. This little encyclopedia is the brainchild of Paula Begoun, skincare product guru, and aims to educate an average consumer about what’s exactly in their cosmetics. They also tend to be very conservative about their claims and are not going to rave about something without conclusive evidence.
But what does it mean that Chaga is nowhere to be seen? Honestly, not much. The website is ever-expanding so it may be that they just need to get around to adding it. Or, more likely, they are waiting for more independent studies before they give it a green light. A good chunk of published studies is sponsored by cosmetics manufacturers. This is the standard operating procedure for Asian companies, where the Chaga beauty trend originates from. It’s the same case as with other beloved ingredients like inositol or fermentation filtrates.
But, let’s go back to Paula’s Choice. The chances that Chaga will get a high rating from them are high since they already rate other mushrooms as the “best”. Their close cousin Reishi mushroom is accepted as one of the rare plant extracts that actually delivers on the promises. To them, mushrooms are generally worth it and you should check out the products with them.
Products to keep an eye on
Unfortunately, there are still not too many products on the market to choose from. Also, some of the available products have Chaga buried down on the ingredients list (an indicator that there’s not much of it) or have some other worrisome pairings (like photo-toxic lavender oil that’s always for some reason in indie formulas).
But the good news is that the good ones have been around the block for a while and have proven their worth.
The Saem Chaga line
The Saem is one of the “road shop” cosmetics brands from South Korea. Not as famous to the Westerners as Etude House or Innisfree, but equally respected amongst K-beauty fanatics.
Their Chaga line has been around for years – a true feat and a sign of quality in the fast-paced and trend-chasing world of beauty products. Currently, it consists of 7 different items that are rather affordable.
The Chaga extract is fermented at the temperature of 59 degrees Fahrenheit for 180 days thus creating smaller particles that penetrate the skin more efficiently. The basic formula also includes other mushroom extracts, as well as ever-present (in Korean products) Niacinamide and Adenosine.
And, since it’s a line and not a single product, it’s possible to tailor a routine for any skin type. For example, the cream is a bit too rich for oily or combination skin, but the emulsion is a lot lighter and more suitable for all skin types.
The Saem products are available from most online retailers that sell Korean cosmetics, with some of them even offering free shipping from Korea.
Blithe Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum
Also coming from South Korea, but this time a slightly more high-end item. Blithe is a concept brand that celebrates minimalistic skincare and aims to create high-performance products with innovative concepts and technology.
The pressed serums are very unique and completely different from most items that are available on the market. They are designed to help you skip the steps of serum, cream, and face oil at once for a quicker nighttime routine.
The Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum has a pudding-like texture that is better suited to dry and mature skin. Those with combination and oily skin may end up with breakouts from this product.
What makes this product different than an average face cream or balm is that the purified water is reduced to its absolute minimum and replaced with Chaga extract, The product formula is actually 60% Chaga and very low in filler/non-active ingredients. Fermented olive and argan oil are included as well, so the serum is not as sticky as the ones that use regular oils.
Plantioxidants Chaga and Ginseng Reparative Serum
This product is so beloved and even managed to snag a SELF Healthy Beauty award in 2018.
Plantioxidants’ concept is all about organic and sustainable ingredients, as well as packing your skincare routine with as many antioxidants as possible. They produce a relatively small premium line of skincare products that are formulated with as little unnecessary and synthetic ingredients as possible.
In this serum, Chaga is paired up with the almighty Ginseng. Both the red and the white ginseng are highly valued in the cosmetics industry (with red being more valued) and are regulars in high-end anti-aging skincare formulas. But, ut’s not just another hyped up ingredient. The saponins in ginseng have shown great ability to speed up collagen production. When combined with other antioxidants, the effect is multiplied.
This pairing is ideal for someone who is looking for an intensive care solution.
Supermood Egoboost One Minute Facelift Serum
It had as at “one minute”.
Supermood products are very concentrated and tend to have more active ingredients than many of the competitors on the market. So, does that means that this one is a miracle worker? Well, kinda.
The instant facelift properties come from the proprietary liftonin which, honestly, is not that unique. Saggy skin is a combination of collagen loss and open pores. Pores that have dirt deeply rooted inside can’t close properly and slowly start to stretch out vertically. While the collagen loss issue needs more time and work, the pores can temporarily be corseted in giving the skin a lifting effect. It’s the same principle that MacClinic’s Cermage, Victoria’s Egg Pack soap, and numerous “zombie” masks use.
So, if you need a little pick-me-up for a special occasion (and it’s fine if every day is a special occasion), the Egoboost is a great way to boost your ego. Plus, it also has Chaga, argan oil, birch sap, and Centella Asiatica – all ingredients that can care for aging skin, repair damaged natural skin barrier, boost collagen production, and overall soothe the skin.
Just one note, though. Most products that temporarily shrink pores can also clog them, therefore making the problem even worse. Just make sure that your cleansing game is spot on and you should be okay.