Under the Lens: What is Beta-Glucan?
What is Beta-Glucan and why should you use it in your skincare routine?
Beta glucan, written as β-glucan, is an ingredient that exists naturally in foods and organisms such as mushrooms, seaweed and oats. In the skincare frontier, Beta glucans are gaining traction thanks to their notable properties when applied to the skin topically.
While it functions first as a humectant (essentially, a water-loving ingredient that pulls moisture into the top layers of the skin), its ability to deliver a host of benefits to support skin ageing, barrier health, redness and dehydration makes this skincare powerhouse one to note.
Beta glucan consists of multiple sugars chemically linked together which allows it to exist as the ultimate multi-hyphenate. This combination allows Beta glucans to lend parts of their structure to help replenish the skin — to, for example, a damaged cell wall.
If you’ve ever wondered about Beta glucan’s meaning or the benefits of Beta glucans skincare, we’ve got you covered.
What are Beta glucans in skincare, and what are the benefits?
Traditionally, molecules with large sizes are unable to manoeuvre between epidermal cells into the dermis (the second layer of the skin where collagen and elastin are). Beta-Glucans in skincare, however, have been proven to break this rule. This allows the sugar-based fibre to target the root cause and stimulate cellular changes, playing a more active role in helping you love your bare skin.
- Supporting the nature of wrinkles and fine lines: Excessive exposure to ultraviolet rays can create a chain of events which break down the skin from the inside, out. For collagen and elastin fibres, gradual reduction leads to fine lines and wrinkles and potentially, sagging. Beta glucan’s involvement with the skin’s immune system promotes collagen production.
- Deeper hydration with more barrier protection: With all the buzz around barrier repair products, it’s likely that we all have a product or two targeting it. Trust us when we say that the true key to having a healthy skin barrier is to have a combination of oil and water molecules – to keep the good stuff in, and the bad stuff out. Beta glucans not only pull water from more humid environments to replenish and restore, but ward off bad microbes that pose a threat to the skin.
- Improved wound healing: Macrophages, keratinocytes and fibroblasts exist within the skin to boost immune activity. Beta glucans interact with each of them to stimulate skin growth after injuries. While they won’t replace your need for bandages, continual use will improve your natural healing process.
- Reduced redness, sensitivity and inflammation: Inflammation is often the root cause of conditions like redness and sensitivity. Thankfully, Beta glucans are acclaimed for their antioxidant activity, which not only soothes the skin by forming a shield against environmental aggressors, but cuts down inflammatory molecules.
Can you use Beta glucans with other skincare ingredients?
Luckily for us all, Beta glucans have only been shown to have incompatibilities when taken orally. Their ability to supercharge ingredients including hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and retinol bring us closer to bare skin.
- Hyaluronic acid: Due to its large molecular weight, hyaluronic acid s often trapped in the top layer of the skin – getting in the way of lasting change. Fortunately, Beta glucans are able to pull moisture deeper into the skin. By creating a more even hydration gradient, the skin's moisture balance is maintained, ensuring the skin can function at its best.
- Vitamin C: As an antioxidant heavyweight, Vitamin C pairs seamlessly with Beta glucans to support the skin barrier. While the two work together to limit damaging exposure, Vitamin C undoubtedly plays the leading role that allows Beta glucans to protect the surface of the skin.
- Retinol: The truth is, we have all at some point been sold on using retinol. It’s the all encompassing Vitamin A derivative, available without prescription, so of course we love it. Beta glucan's ability to soften the blow from the side effects like irritation, redness and photosensitivity support us on the journey to skin we love.
Is there anyone who should avoid using Beta glucans in their skincare routine?
Unfortunately, humectants are not known to be loyal ingredients. Their ability to draw moisture from the more humid environment is also true for drier and desert-like environments. In situations like this, your skin unfortunately becomes the donor, resulting in dehydration and/or dryness.
If you have any questions on Beta glucans, or want advice on how your skin might react before introducing this ingredient into your skincare routine, our aestheticians are just a message away.
Take our skin health quiz as a first step in receiving your personal routine and speak to one of our aestheticians about even more ingredients.