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Oat Guide to Beta-Glucan

Rachel Davies

Rachel Davies

Oat Guide to Beta-Glucan

Beta-glucan is a powerful molecule that is fantastic in haircare formulations due to its moisture-restoring characteristics and hair strengthening performance. Beta-glucan is an all-rounder that promotes a healthy look and feel of the hair.  Our brand-new hair active, Glucaveen, is all this and more due to its high concentration of beta-glucan.  But, what exactly is beta-glucan? What are the benefits of adding beta-glucan to haircare formulations? With our Oat Guide series, we are here to answer all your questions. We launched this series by taking a deep dive into hyaluronic acid. In this blog, we focus on the hair hero that is beta-glucan. We spoke with our Product Development Manager, Emilie Gombert, to learn more about this active molecule. We break down exactly what beta-glucan is and how it behaves in order to benefit the hair.

What is beta-glucan?

Emilie: Beta-glucans are large polysaccharide chains consisting of several D-glucose units linked together by beta 1,3 and beta 1,4 or beta 1,6 glycosidic linkages with or without branching. Depending on their origin, their structures can vary significantly and also have different physicochemical properties. Beta-glucans from cereals, for example, are composed of unbranched linear chains with beta 1,3 and beta 1,4 glycosidic linkages.

Where in the cell are oat beta-glucans found?

Emilie: Beta-glucan naturally occurs in the cell walls of cereals, bacteria, fungus, yeast, algae, and mushroom. Oat beta-glucan is derived from the endosperm (cell wall) of the oat kernel.

Trend Check

Mintel trend reports (2021) show that there is a growth in ingredient substantiation that is increasingly investigated and dissected by consumers. There are vast pressures in the haircare industry to offer consumers the desired, efficient end-results, as well as to meet social and environmental responsibility expectations.

Our Approach

Efficacy of ingredients and environmental responsibility should go hand-in-hand. We work very hard to ensure that there is no trade-off or compromise. Glucaveen, our beta-glucan-rich hair active, is made to be waterless for this very reason.  Moreover, this key active is also COSMOS approved, hypoallergenic, GMO-free, vegan – the list goes on. Find the full list of approvals for Glucaveen here.

Can you tell us more about the structure of oat beta-glucans?

Chemical structure of oat beta-glucan

Emilie: Structurally, oat beta-glucan is a linear polymer of glucose consisting of 1,4 (70%) and 1,3 (30%) glycosidic linkages. The (1,3)-linkages break up the uniform structure of the beta-D-glucan molecule and make it soluble and flexible.

Fluorescent-stained section of an oat kernel. The beta-glucan present in the cell wall of the oat fluoresces a brilliant blue when stained with Calcofluor White (Pillai, Redmond & Roding, 2005)

How does beta-glucan benefit the hair?

Emilie: There are many reasons why oat beta-glucan is fantastic on the hair. Some of the key benefits include:

  • Its ability to leave your hair looking and feeling extremely moisturised. This is because oat beta-glucan will act on the cuticle, forming a natural moisture-holding, protective coating to avoid hair dryness. Large molecules, greater than 10 kDa as oat beta-glucan, are proven to be excellent film-formers that help to fill in porosities in the cuticle.
  • Improve hair elasticity and strength (Hart and Polla, 1998) which results in an overall improvement in the look, feel and health of the hair.
  • Beta-glucans are known for their ability to stimulate cellular growth and tissue repair as well as mediate inflammatory processes – these properties are essential for a healthy scalp.
Results from our ex vivo study on hair moisture with Glucaveen

Why is the oat a favourable source of beta-glucan?

Emilie: 1-3, 1-4-beta-D-glucan from oats is the most water-soluble beta-glucan. Meanwhile, other beta-glucans are often insoluble which make makes it more difficult to incorporate into formulations. The primary structure of oat beta-glucan resembles hyaluronic acid which is a long chain of disaccharide units made of two glucose derivatives.  This structure enables oat beta-glucan to bind large amounts of water on the scalp. Therefore, beta-glucan also helps to maintain the scalp’s moisture levels, thus preventing dryness. This is important for the hair follicles in order to produce thicker and softer hairs, thereby improving the quality and quantity of the hairs. On top of this, oat beta-glucan is also considered a fibre and has a prebiotic effect (FDA approved), where it acts as a substrate for microbial fermentation and selectively stimulates the growth and activity of a small number of beneficial bacteria (Gibson, 2004)


We hope that this interview has helped you to learn a little more about beta-glucan. The beauty and personal care market is becoming increasingly saturated with big buzz words with new actives launched every day. At Oat Cosmetics, it is our intention to increase transparency with our ingredients. This oat guide teaches us about the anatomy and efficacy of beta-glucan. We launched Glucaveen, our beta-glucan-rich hair active, to deliver results that help to create natural formulations with powerful results.

Glucaveen, Oat Beta-Glucan for Healthier Hair
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