The power of adaptogens in skincare & supplements: Lumene & Wunderworkshop

I have been a fan of Zoe, founder of Wunderworkshop, for a few years now and this petite and incredibly pretty young woman made a lasting impression on me from the moment we met. Driven and pro-active, with an infectious smile always on her face, she is also calm, honest, generous and reflective on the ebbs and flows of life. Zoe was one of the first supplement brand founders to put turmeric into the public’s field of attention and now she is doing the same with adaptogens.

Wunderworkshop turmeric product are very much loved and used pretty much daily in my household, so when Zoe launched Golden Shrooms, brand’s third (you can read my review of the first two, Golden Glow and Golden Balance here) adaptogenic product, an adaptogenic blend of Cordyceps, Reishi and Turmeric, I got my hands on the jar as soon as you can say ‘tired’.

According to Zoe ”it was mainly inspired by my fascination for Cordyceps, as I especially relied on it for occasions, where I needed that tiny bit extra energy or endurance. Throughout my twenties, when I used to go to festivals, I would take Cordyceps instead of drugs or alcohol to keep me going and not feel exhausted’.

Interesting fact: Cordyceps really got into the limelight in the early 1990s, when some athletes of the Chinese Olympic team took Cordyceps to enhance their athletic performance.

Since cordyceps are also an adaptogen, Zoe realised that they can be useful for internal wellbeing on a daily basis and therefore it might be worthy to try to combine it with some other powerful and potent ingredients such as Turmeric, Ginger, Cacao and Reishi – another mushroom adaptogen with potent qualities, foremost its immune-boosting effects. In combination with all the ingredients, it creates an anti-inflammatory, immune boosting and specifically endurance enhancing blend.

A note of caution though: it is very important to know that not all mushrooms products are the same and eating or injecting certain types of them can be dangerous, and even lethal in some cases (a cautionary tale on this subject was taught by Nicholas Evans, who wrote ‘The Horse Whisperer’. He went mushroom gathering with his family and later they cooked and ate the mushrooms that they gathered. Unknown to them, some of the mushrooms were inedible and he and some of the family members ended up in intensive care. An event that nearly tore his family apart and had long-term consequences. So make sure you check provenance of mushroom products you buy). One should always look for the extracted powder version, and not just a full-spectrum powder, as that is just ground mushroom. Traditionally they are brewed in hot water and let to sit for many hours in order to extract the functional ingredients. Zoe kindly provided me with some extra information on the subject as well, in order to help you understand this topic better:

“Mushrooms, are chitin based. Chitin is probably the hardest natural material found on earth – it is also the main building block of lobsters’ claws and insect’s exo-skeleton. Chitin does not degrade in alcohol or water (which is the reason why mushroom tinctures are mostly useless, therapeutically speaking). Most people cannot digest unprocessed mushrooms or mushroom products – they lack the enzyme chitinase in their stomach, needed to break down chitin. The bioactive ingredients are embedded in the chitin, like LEGO bricks in a LEGO wall, and in order to benefit from them the chitin should be removed. Heat is very effective to ‘melt’ the chitin and set the embedded “bioactives free, thus making them bioavailable.A hot water extraction is probably the most common and cheapest process to create a therapeutically useful mushroom product. Mushroom teas or mushroom soups are in the core crude hot water extracts. Still, extraction costs money, so many supplement producers skip this step, knowing that 99% of their potential customers will be unaware of the limited bioavailability of their products.

How to use this adaptogen blend: add 1/2 tsp to your smoothie, tonic, juice or warm milk/mylk. Zoe takes it in the mornings, particularly on days when she knows she will need a lot of focus or when a busy day lies ahead and she needs to increase her indurance.

Armed with Zoe’s advice, I tried it in juice (I find that it works well in predominantly green juices with frozen banana, as it does have an earthy, woody taste, so a little bit of a sweet undertone helps to create a balanced flavour), as well as my morning coffee. I also tried it with my morning or afternoon smoothies, mixed with protein powder & can recommend it in a smoothie with papaya, cucumber, green apple & half a tsp of cinnamon.

I can’t say that I feel extra energetic when I take it in the morning, but it certainly helps power me through (without the jitters) in the afternoon, when I feel that my energy is dipping, yet I still have plenty of things to do. Like with most of Wunderworkshop products, this one won me over fairly quickly, but I don’t use it daily – when my schedule is strenuous or I have a tiring concession of days, I definitely now make sure to take it, otherwise it stays on my supplement shelf and waits with patience for the time when my body asks for it. Listening to your body and learning to interpret its signals is something that I highly recommend, if you want to feel well in herself.

Ingredients: Turmeric (23%)*, Cordyceps (Ophiocordyceps sinensis) extract (20%)*, Reishi (Ganoderma lucidus) extract (20%)*, Ginger*, Cacao*, Black Pepper*. *organic ingredients

Before I move on to another product, let me share something else about Wunderworkshop: one of the reasons why I regularly take their supplements is because I place my trust in the brand founder’s knowledge and integrity when it comes to sourcing the ingredients and creating the formulas that can bring long-term benefits to consumers. Zoe is always very measured and honest when it comes to the information she provides, concerning the effect her supplements can have on you, never promising miracles or stretching the truth. To me truth is what matters when I choose supplements that I take, not the clever marketing tricks.

Wunderworkshop ‘Golden Shrooms’, cordyceps, reishi & turmeric mushroom Adaptogen blend, 40g, £17.50

Lumene Harmonia Nutri-recharging Purifying Peat Mask, 75ml

The food that we eat not only affects our health, but can have an impact on how we look and how our skin behaves. Beauty brands have long incorporated food into their formulas and before them our grandmothers did the same, using ingredients like natural yogurt, strawberries, honey, cucumbers – you name it – in the name of beauty. Finnish brand Lumene launched a ‘Harmonia {balance}’ range at the end of last year, which incorporates medicinal mushrooms in their formulas. I have used the cleanser, which is quite concentrated, but does a good job, particularly in the evenings, but it is the Nutri-recharging Purifying Peat Mask that I want to tell you about.

Developed with all skin types in mind, it contains Nordic Chaga and dark brown Nordic Peat and promises to purify, decongest and re-balance your skin. A thick paste that easily squeezes out of the tube, once you unscrew its wooden lid, it contains earthy particles that will also help clarify the complexion, as well as sooth the skin. I have used it throughout winter and first tried it when I was steaming myself off in a Finnish sauna (a combined experience I highly recommend by the way, as it offers an opportunity to detoxify the body, while nurturing your body, skin, hair and nails with masks or oils).

Arctic and Nordic plants have evolved in time to absorb and channel the summer unique light that is welcomed by not just plants, but people and animals too, after long, dark and cold winters. It helps to produce a high concentration of potent nutrients and antioxidants, which coupled with pure Arctic spring water, that Lumene uses, create potent plant elixirs that form the foundation of this product and others in that range.

We are renewed every day and so is our skin and bodies, so looking at your face in the mirror in the morning is not just about vanity, it is about seeing what draws your attention and addressing it with what you have in your bathroom sanctuary. Nordic Chaga, a star ingredient of this face care range, is considered to be a superfood because of the potent antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, it contains. Add to that the effect of the micro-nutrients that are included in the formulation that will help restore harmony in the skin matrix. This mask also contains cetearyl and acetyl alcohol, both of which come ahead of Chaga in the ingredient list, as well as alcohol and perfume ( fragrance – it states on the packaging that it is a 100% natural one), so bear that in mind when contemplating this mask, particularly if you have dry, reactive or sensitive skin, as they might not agree with each other.

I tend to apply it to cleansed skin ( no tonic application after cleansing ) and keep it on my face for up to ten minutes, while I shower or take a bath, and then rinse it with a face cloth (cotton or bamboo) that was immersed in warm water, massaging my face as I remove every trace of the mask and then pat it dry. Applying a balm, face oil or moisturiser, instead of serum, produces a more nurtured complexion in the morning in my case, but it’s always best to experiment and find what works best for you. I am drawn to this mask for its earthy scent that I find comforting, it almost makes me feel more grounded by inhaling its scent, and the fact that it contains Kaolin, assures me that it helps to purify not just my brain via scent, but my skin as well. Another tip is to extend this mask’s application to your neck & decolette, especially now that the summer is upon us and those two part are encased in pretty fashion, rather than hidden under multiple layers.

You can purchase some of Lumene products in the UK via Amazon (not my preferred retailer for beauty, I must say) or Feelunique, but I couldn’t see any of the products from the Harmonia range on either of the websites, so it might be worth contacting the brand directly and asking, if they would ship to the UK or stock up on the products while you are visiting Nordic countries, where the brand is well represented).

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