Beta-glucan is a term that represents a group of β-D-glucose polysaccharides naturally occurring in the cell walls of cereals, bacteria, and fungi. Beta-glucans have diverse physiological effects depending on their source. For instance, a 2005 study found that yeast-derived beta-glucan could reduce free radical formation in vitro. Free radicals are the unstable molecules that contribute to the formation of premature wrinkles and fine lines on the skin. Other animal studies have shown yeast-derived beta-glucan to have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
Beta glucans can also be derived from oats and oat kernel extract. These beta glucans provide several benefits to the skin as well, for instance, they have the ability to stimulate collagen production. This can have an anti-wrinkle effect and also help to speed wound healing. Oat beta glucans also improve skin hydration and have a soothing effect on the skin. Beta glucans are also frequently used in products intended for sensitive skin due to their ability to improve the look of redness and reduce irritation.