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Can magic mushrooms really lighten skin?

BC says…I read this statement on another beauty blog: “Notorious for their hallucinogenic properties, mushrooms are more than just a mind-alerting substance. They also have powerful beautifying benefits!” This sounds like an urban myth to me what’s the scoop?

The Beauty Brains respond:

Scoop-wise we agree this does sound far-fetched but, even though the details are a bit screwed up, there is some true science behind using mushrooms for beauty benefits.

Mushroom extract does have skin lightening properties…

The product in question is the Elure Skin Brightening System which features Melanozyme,™ a trademarked version of lignin peroxidase. For those not up on your enzymatic mushroom extracts, lignin peroxidase is supposedly able to decompose eumelanin, one of the types of melanin found in the skin. (FutureDerm has an excellent in-depth review of the product so rather than rehash all the details here we’ll direct you to her post. But for now suffice it to say that there is at least some in vivo and in vitro testing that shows lignin peroxidase can indeed light skin.)

…but the mushrooms aren’t so magic

But back to the question about magic mushrooms. The idea that a potent hallucinogen can be safely used in a skin cream certainly makes for a compelling story. But in reality this skin lightening enzyme is not generally generally produced by the same type of mushroom that is used as a psychotropic drug. According to the patent which covers lignin peroxidase production, the enzyme is isolated from the fungus known as “White Wood Rot” which doesn’t sound nearly as awesome as “magic mushrooms” which are technically known as Psilocybe cyanescens.

The Beauty Brains bottom-line

There is some science behind the idea of using mushroom extract as a skin lightening agent. Unfortunately it doesn’t come from the same mind bending agent we all used back in college. (Wait a minute – did I just say that out loud?)

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