Pick up your phone, do a quick scroll through your Instagram feed, and tell us what you see. Avocado toast? Memes? Puppies? Yep, us too. But once in a while we come across an It girl who stops us dead in our tracks—we can’t pinpoint quite what it is that makes her stand out, and that keeps us hooked. We’re inspired by the vibe she puts out, her glowing skin, and her on-the-go (yet somehow incredibly healthy) lifestyle. And we want her secrets.
Wellness influencer Chinae Alexander is one of those women. And when we tapped her to share her go-tos, we were more than a bit surprised to discover they all revolve around one super ingredient: mushrooms. That’s right: fungus. “I think a lot of people see mushrooms as a filler food, but the benefits go beyond just incorporating them into your meals,” Alexander tells us. Skeptical? Read on to learn how you too can harness the power of ’shrooms, starting with Origins’ Dr. Andrew Weil Mega-Mushroom line.
We’ve all been told to eat our vegetables because they do our bodies good. What we haven’t been told, however, is that certain superfoods have just as many benefits for our skin as they do for our health. In other words, applying these boosters topically is a logical next step. “Mushrooms have properties that fight free radicals, and they’re the only plant-based source of vitamin D,” Alexander explains. “They’ve been used in Chinese medicine for years, and I’m glad we’re putting more research and application into them now.”
Origins has been applying this research for years. Its fan-favorite Mega-Mushroom line is formulated with a complex that includes fermented chaga, a powerful anti-irritant; cordyceps, used to help fatigue; reishi, which boasts anti-irritant properties; and coprinus mushrooms, which help keep skin looking calm and resilient. “I’m a total mask girl,” Alexander says. “I’m the person on the airplane in a full clay mask, so naturally I love the Relief and Resilience Mask ($39). It’s ultra-soothing and a total lifesaver during my travels.” Another editor favorite is the Treatment Lotion, which is a super lightweight, hydrating formula with an almost water-like texture that calms skin, leaving it feeling healthy and refreshed.
Adding mushrooms into your diet can give you even more benefits. Fungi help protect against infections and chronic diseases, and they’re also rich in vitamins, antioxidants, proteins, minerals, amino acids—the list goes on. But you don’t have to be a pro chef to add the ingredient to your diet. One of Alexander’s go-to side dishes is a simple mushroom sauté. She sautés maitake mushroom clusters in olive oil; adds a simple sauce made from light coconut milk, Thai basil, and lemongrass; and then sprinkles salt over the top. Another quick fix: Add mushrooms into your morning omelette.
If you scan the menu at your trendiest java spot, you may have noticed the addition of a chaga latte, a caffeine-free mushroom drink chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals the body literally drinks up. Bonus: The brewed drink's been known to boost gut health and improve skin problems like psoriasis.
“My barista skills at home stop at black coffee or red wine, so I’m thrilled to be seeing a lot of trendy coffee shops offering them now,” Alexander jokes. You can also DIY the drink at home by boiling water with a few pieces of chaga or by mixing in chaga powder. Add cacao (or carob powder), water, and your milk of choice. The flavor is rich and earthy, similar to coffee, and can be sweetened if needed.