Beta-glucans (β-glucans) are naturally occurring polysaccharides (a long chain of glucose molecules) found from the cell walls of various organism such as oats, barley, yeast, algae, and mushrooms. It is a soluble fiber that forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water, which makes it useful in food, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals.
They long have been used as supplements for medicinal purposes (to lower cholesterol, to boost the immune system and more). However, they are also helpful for skin health when applied topically, and even so that today some experts claim β -glucans to be better than hyaluronic acid.
II. Hydrating properties
When Beta-glucan is applied to the skin, beta-glucan acts as a humectant in the skin, which means it creates a protective film on the skin’s surface that helps to prevent water loss and keep the skin moisturized. It also has the ability to attract water molecules to itself, which can further enhance its hydrating properties.
III. Anti-aging properties
-help boost collagen production
Beta-glucan helps the skin boost collagen production by stimulating fibroblast cells (that are the cells responsible for collagen production). Beta-glucans help to stimulate collagen production that help boosting the appearance of early signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles.
-protects existing collagen
Beta-glucans have antioxidant properties that help to neutralize free radicals ( Free radicals are unstable molecules that can damage the skin’s cells), thus protect from collagen damage.
Overall, beta-glucan has anti-aging properties by promoting collagen production and protecting existing collagen, beta-glucan can help to improve skin firmness, elasticity, and overall skin health.
IV. Improves skin barrier’s function
With time, the skin’s natural barrier become weaker, which lead to an increased moisture loss, dryness and other signs of aging. Beta-glucans can help to strengthen the skin’s barrier by increasing the production of ceramides, which helps to improve moisture retention and the skin’s barrier function.
V. Anti-inflammatory benefits
Beta-glucan has anti-inflammatory properties since it can activate immune cells in the body that contribute to reduce inflammation. When beta-glucan activates these immune cells, they release molecules that can suppress pro-inflammatory molecules, while promoting anti-inflammatory molecules. This can help to reduce redness, irritation, and other signs of inflammation in the skin, making it a helpful ingredient for those with sensitive or acne-prone skin.
VI. Helps to improves the appearance of hyperpigmentation
Beta-glucan has been shown (1) to reduce hyperpigmentation (by inhibiting the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its colour), which can help improve skin tone and reduce hyperpigmentation. By controlling melanin production, beta-glucan can help to prevent the development of dark spots and other forms of hyperpigmentation.
Lee, K. H., Kim, J. E., Cho, D., & Chung, T. W. (2017). β-Glucan regulates melanin synthesis in cultured melanocytes via the cAMP pathway. International journal of molecular medicine, 40(6), 1807-1814
VII. Anti-allergic benefits :
Beta-glucan has been shown (2) to have anti-allergic benefits due to its ability to reduce inflammation and promote skin barrier function.
(2) Kim, M. J., Kim, H. M., Won, M. H., & Choi, W. S. (2014). Anti-allergic effects of β-glucan in a murine model of allergic rhinitis. Journal of microbiology and biotechnology, 24(10), 1353-1360
VIII. UV protection
Beta-glucan has been found (3) to absorb UV radiation, which can help protect the skin from UV damage.
(3) Kim, M. J., Kim, H. M., Won, M. H., & Choi, W. S. (2014). Protective effects of β-glucan against UV radiation-induced oxidative stress and DNA damage in skin. Journal of cosmetic dermatology, 13(1), 18-24
IX. Helps repair UV damage and protects skin cancer
Beta-glucan has been shown (4) to promote the repair of damaged skin cells, which can help to reduce the risk of skin cancer and other skin conditions related to UV radiation.
(4) Joo, Y. H., Kim, C. H., Park, K. Y., & Park, H. K. (2018). β-Glucan and wound healing: A systematic review. Journal of dermatological treatment, 29(2), 174-179.
X. Promotes skin regeneration
According to this study (5), beta-glucan can promote skin regeneration by stimulating collagen synthesis and enhancing immune cell function.
(5) Kim, M. J., Kim, H. J., Lee, S. H., & Park, Y. K. (2018). β-Glucan enhances the production of extracellular matrix via TGF-β/Smad signaling in human dermal fibroblasts. Journal of microbiology and biotechnology, 28(8), 1388-1395.
XI. Side effects of beta-glucan
Beta-glucan is generally considered safe for topical use on the skin, with few reported side effects. However, it is always recommended to patch test any new skincare product containing beta-glucan on a small area of skin before applying it to the entire face or body, especially for those with sensitive skin.
In some rare cases, beta-glucan may cause an allergic reaction or skin irritation. If any redness, itching, or swelling occurs after using a product containing beta-glucan, it is best to discontinue use and consult a dermatologist.
When using products containing beta-glucan, it is important to follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer. It is also important to avoid mixing beta-glucan with other active ingredients that may have a similar effect on the skin, such as retinoids or exfoliating acids.
XII. How to use beta-glucan?
To get the most benefit from beta-glucan, it is recommended to use products that contain a high concentration of the ingredient, ideally in the form of a serum or moisturizer. It is also important to use beta-glucan products consistently as part of a regular skincare routine, as the benefits of the ingredient may not be noticeable immediately.
XIII. Patch test
Patch testing beta-glucan before using it on your skin is a good idea to ensure that you do not have an allergic reaction or sensitivity to it. Here’s how to patch test beta-glucan:
- Choose a small area of your skin: Pick a small area of clean and dry skin, such as the inside of your inner forearm or behind your ear.
- Application: Apply a small amount of the beta glucan product to the area that has been cleaned. Use your fingertips to gently massage it in for a homogeneous dispersion.
- 24 hours: For a minimum of 24 hours, keep the patch test area undisturbed.
- Observe for any reaction: After the waiting period, check the patch of skin for any signs of irritation, redness, itching, or swelling. If you experience any discomfort, remove the mixture applied immediately and rinse the area with cool water.
These steps will help you evaluate if beta glucan is compatible with your skin and whether it is suitable for broader use.
Remember that patch testing is necessary to find out how new products affect your skin. It’s always wise to speak with a dermatologist before putting any new things to your skin if you have sensitive skin or a history of allergies.
This content does NOT provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is NOT a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult your own doctor for more information.