Making sure your skin stays deeply hydrated is one of the top ways to keep it looking youthful and healthy.
However, this can be a challenge, especially as you get older.
Enter two top hydrating ingredients: hyaluronic acid and tremella mushroom.
Hyaluronic acid (which you may have heard of) is very popular in the skincare world because of its moisture-retaining properties. Tremella is more of a newcomer— at least in modern skincare— that has shown truly outstanding hydration qualities for skin.
Read on to learn more about these two hydrators, how they compare side by side, and why hydration is so important for your youngest-looking skin.
Why Hydration is Key to Younger-Looking Skin
Dry, dehydrated skin makes wrinkles, dark spots, and other signs of aging look more noticeable and gives your complexion a dull, “tired” appearance in general.
The roughness, itchiness, flakiness, and irritation that often appear alongside dryness are no fun, either.
Unfortunately, there are many reasons your skin may continue to get drier as you get older.
To begin with, aging skin typically produces fewer natural oils than younger skin. This is due to a slowdown in oil gland function and is a common contributor to dryness.
In addition, components in your skin collectively referred to as natural moisturizing factor (NMF) decline with age, again contributing to dryness and irritation.
To add to these natural changes, environmental factors also take their toll on your complexion. Years of hot and cold weather, sun damage (from UV radiation), air pollutants, etc. put stress on your skin and often result in increased moisture loss (both short- and long-term).
The cumulative effect of all of the above leads to something major: impaired skin barrier function.
This means that your skin struggles to hold onto moisture, which results in dryness, roughness, flakiness, and so on.
And though you can help your skin barrier to repair over time, your skin is still going to need more help with moisture than it used to— which is exactly where hyaluronic acid and tremella mushroom come in.
Hyaluronic Acid: The Good Ultra-Hydrator
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a substance your body naturally produces. It can be described using words like “gooey” and “gel-like” and is found throughout your body, particularly in your skin, eyes, and joints.
In technical terms, hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan, which is a type of long unbranched polysaccharide. In more simple terms, it’s a water-binding molecule that helps your joints to move smoothly and your eyes to stay lubricated.
When it comes to your skin, hyaluronic acid helps it to look plump (in conjunction with collagen) and stay flexible (in conjunction with elastin).
But where hyaluronic acid— or HA as it’s often shortened to— really shines is skin hydration.
In skincare terms, HA is a humectant, which means it draws moisture to your skin and binds it to the top layer. Incredibly, HA can bind up to 1000 times it’s own weight in water, making it a truly top-notch hydrator!
Unfortunately, your body produces less hyaluronic acid as you age. Production drops even more in response to certain stressors, like photodamage (i.e., UV damage).
This is why HA has become very popular in skincare— to replenish what your skin has lost over time.
Hyaluronic Acid in Skincare
There are several ways hyaluronic acid can be used to hydrate skin.
One of the most common places you’ll see it is in topical skincare products. It can be added to lotions, creams, gels, serums, etc. to boost their moisturizing properties and can even be used to make DIY skincare creations.
However, it’s important to realize that the effectiveness of an HA product will depend on molecule size.
To give you a quick overview, hyaluronic acid molecules are not all the same size. The larger ones are too big to penetrate deeply into your skin, which means they only provide hydration at the very surface. Smaller molecules bind less water than larger ones but are absorbed more deeply into the skin.
For the best of both worlds, you’ll want a product with a range of molecule sizes.
Another approach to using HA is allowing it to work from the inside out. You can find it in supplement form (usually as capsules), and it has been shown to improve skin moisture when taken this way, too.
Finally, hyaluronic acid can also be used as an injectable filler. This type of procedure is done by a professional and helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. (But keep in mind that injections often contain many ingredients, some questionable at best.)
Are There Any Downsides to Hyaluronic Acid?
Because hyaluronic acid is naturally manufactured by your body, it rarely causes irritation or allergic reactions. This is a huge plus, especially for those with sensitive skin.
The biggest potential downside is how HA is produced commercially.
The original “natural” version of hyaluronic acid was made by extracting it from rooster combs. Nowadays, it’s much more likely to be made by fermenting certain types of bacteria in a lab.
Not only does this mean there’s no truly natural, plant-based version of HA, the bacteria typically used during production have caused some controversy.
Streptococcus bacteria, the type commonly used to make HA, are known to produce endotoxins. Endotoxins are present in certain types of bacteria and are released when the cell disintegrates. They are contributors to several diseases and believed to cause inflammation in the body.
New production techniques (some using a different type of bacteria) are being explored for hyaluronic acid. This will hopefully make HA an even better ingredient for skincare in the future, but you may still want to do some research before buying at present.
Tremella Mushroom for Skin: The Great Ultra-Hydrator
What is Tremella?
Tremella fuciformis, also known as snow mushroom or silver ear, is an edible fungi with a rich history. It has a coral-like shape and a white, somewhat translucent color. In the wild, this shroom is often found growing on the dead branches of broadleaf trees, but it can also be cultivated.
For thousands of years, tremella has been important in both Chinese cuisine and traditional medicine.
With its gelatinous texture, tremella is often used in sweet dishes and desserts (surprisingly enough). It can also be used in some savory dishes, like snow fungus salad, and is a good thickener for soups.
As far as health is concerned, tremella is believed to support the immune system and lung function. It’s valued as a longevity tonic that is particularly nourishing for the lungs, kidneys, heart, brain, and stomach. The mushrooms are particularly rich in dietary fiber, protein, minerals, antioxidants, and vitamin D (depending on how they are grown).
Tremella mushroom is also something of an ancient “beauty secret”.
Legend has it that imperial concubine Yang Guifei, one of the “Four Great Beauties,” relied on tremella to maintain her glowing complexion and youthful skin. It has continued to be used as a beauty food for many years, in part because of its excellent hydrating properties.
Tremella Mushroom Benefits vs. Hyaluronic Acid
Ever since its “discovery” (really a re-discovery) for modern skincare, tremella has been favorably compared to hyaluronic acid.
The mushroom is rich in long-chain sugars known as polysaccharides, which you may remember are also what HA is made of. These polysaccharides appear to work very similarly to HA by pulling moisture to the skin and binding it in place.
Studies on tremella polysaccharides have even concluded that they can “significantly increase the moisture content of the skin epidermis” and prevent moisture loss.
So far, it looks like tremella and hyaluronic acid are very similar, but there is one area where the mushroom has an edge: particle size.
The molecules of tremella mushroom extracts are significantly smaller than HA molecules. This means they are better able to penetrate skin, absorbing deeply with their moisture-boosting properties. In fact, one study found that a product made with tremella had superior moisturizing properties to one made with hyaluronic acid.
Interestingly, another study using human skin cells found that tremella actually increased the hyaluronic acid content in skin fibroblasts. It’s very possible you’re getting the best of both worlds when using tremella!
Other Tremella Mushroom Benefits for Skin
Along with edging out HA for moisturizing power, tremella has several other significant benefits for skin.
To begin with, the same study that found tremella could increase HA content in skin cells also found that it could increase collagen and elastin content.
These findings are still “preliminary,” but this is a huge discovery. Collagen and elastin are two of the most important anti-aging proteins in your skin. Like hyaluronic acid, their production naturally declines as you age, so anything that can boost their content will greatly contribute to younger-looking skin.
In addition to this outstanding characteristic, tremella also possesses antioxidant power.
Antioxidants are extremely important for protecting your skin from the damaging effects of free radicals. Not only do free radicals accelerate the aging process, they can also contribute to an impaired skin barrier and dryness.
As a bonus, the polysaccharides in tremella have shown an ability to protect skin cells from UV damage, likely due to their antioxidant activity. This is, again, a key finding because UV damage— also known as photodamage— is the biggest contributor to premature skin aging.
So, to sum everything up, tremella mushroom is an incredible moisturizer that also has long-term protective effects for your skin. It doesn’t get much better!
How Can You Use Tremella for Skincare?
There are two main ways you can enjoy the benefits of tremella for your skin. (Whichever way you choose, always look for the USDA Organic version of tremella to avoid toxic pesticides!)
The first is very simple: Add the mushrooms to your diet.
Research has confirmed that consuming tremella as a food— or possibly as a supplement— does boost skin hydration by working from the inside out. You’ll also get the benefits of the antioxidants, fiber, and minerals found in the mushrooms.
The downside to this method is that it can quickly become expensive and difficult to keep up with.
You would need to consume the mushrooms regularly (i.e., daily or at least several times a week) for them to truly make a difference to your skin. And unless you live where tremella grows wild (AND can correctly identify it), you’d need to opt for tremella extract, which can be costly.
For many, the alternative method is much easier: Apply tremella to your skin.
Because super shrooms, including tremella, are becoming more well-known, they are showing up more frequently in skincare products. This means you can effectively “feed” your skin tremella by applying a moisturizer or anti-aging product formulated with it.
Again, you’ll need to do this daily/regularly to see results, but consistency is much easier to achieve with a topical product.
Of course, you can always combine the two by using tremella in your skincare routine and adding it to your diet!
Tremella Mushroom For Hydrated, Younger-Looking Skin
Clearly, hyaluronic acid is a good hydrator that has stood the test of time. But why settle for good when you can go for great?
If you are interested in seeing what tremella’s moisture-boosting power can do for your skin, look into the Age-Defying Night Cream from Purity Woods.
This USDA Certified Organic cream deeply hydrates and nourishes your skin with organic tremella extract and over 20 other pure botanical ingredients. Some of the other premium hydrators include organic rosehip seed oil and organic evening primrose oil, which complement tremella perfectly.
Plus, your skin will benefit from some of nature’s best anti-aging ingredients, including powerful elastin-boosting maple leaf extracts and tremella’s antioxidant-packed cousin— organic turkey tail mushroom extract.
You can learn more about the Age-Defying Night Cream here. And consider adding the excellent skin-hydrating benefits of tremella mushroom to your daily routine in one way or another!