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Is Yeast Extract Good for Skin? Protecting and Restorative Benefits

Today the focus stays on one natural ingredient that has stormed the skincare world: meet yeast extract. As many experts have discovered its endless list of benefits, yeast extract has become a staple in products targeting skin protection, hydration, and restoration. Intrigued? Read on to find out everything you need to know about yeast extract for skin, what are its perks, and how to use it for skincare.

What is yeast extract?

You may be familiar with the food additive – yeast. This single-cell fungus is actually one of the most common ingredients used in the food industry. From all kinds of bread to beer, yeast is a superstar in the world of baking.

But what about yeast extract in skincare? To put it simply, yeast extract is the same as yeast but without the cell wall composition. Yeast extract is used in skincare because it is a rich source of proteins, amino acids, B vitamins, sugar, flavonoids, peptides, and fatty acids needed for healthy skin.[1] Yeast is also a good source of β-glucans, a soluble fiber possessing multiple skin benefits. According to recent research, adding yeast extract to certain beauty products can increase the skin’s antioxidant defense. Thanks to its structural composition, yeast extract can also soothe inflammations, increase moisture retention and lighten the skin.[3] With this in mind, let’s look at yeast extract skin benefits.

Yeast extract has antioxidant properties 

One of the benefits of yeast extract for the skin is its high antioxidant activity, attributed to its content of polyphenols.[1] Antioxidants are always welcome since they protect skin cells from the damage caused by the free radicals present in the environment. This defending mechanism of yeast neutralizes free radicals, which in turn keeps the skin healthy.

According to a study from 1998, yeast extract not only activates the body’s defense mechanism but accelerates the wound healing process. More specifically, it was found that β-glucans derived from yeast extract could protect the skin from harmful UV radiation as well as promote the growth of keratinocytes, the primary type of cell found in the outermost layer of the skin.[5] That process is achieved by stopping antioxidant molecules, aka the good guys, from being depleted.

Yeast extract increases skin hydration

Another skin benefit of yeast extract is increasing skin moisture. It was found that formulations containing yeast extract have long-term effects on skin hydration.[2] Research suggests that the moisture-retention capacity of yeast extract is equivalent to that of glycerin, one of the most effective humectants, a type of moisturizing agent that pulls water into the skin.[3]

Yeast for skin whitening

But the list of benefits doesn’t stop here as yeast extract can also help even out your skin tone by lightening dark patches. Here’s the gist: the benefits of yeast for skin whitening include the inhibition of melanin synthesis in skin cells. According to research, yeast can reduce melanin levels, the pigment that defines skin color (which overproduction leads to skin discolorations), by suppressing tyrosinase expression, an enzyme responsible for melanin production.[4] Based on their findings, the daily intake of 100 mg of the yeast extract for eight weeks resulted in significant skin whitening effects. Besides inhibiting tyrosinase, yeast may also lighten the skin by absorbing UV radiation, preventing sun damage.[3]

Yeast can reduce skin inflammations

The beta-glucans derived from yeast are known to possess multiple benefits, including antioxidant, skin repairing, and anti-inflammatory properties. Due to its soothing effect, yeast extract can be used in skincare to calm the skin, relieve inflammations and reduce redness.

Is yeast good for your skin?

Yes, yeast extract is definitely good for your skin. Whether your goal is a smoother texture, youthful glow, plumped complexion, or perfectly even tone, using yeast-infused skincare products is a great choice.

  1. PODPORA, B. & Swiderski, Franciszek & Sadowska, Anna & RAKOWSKA, R. & Wasiak-Zys, Grazyna. (2016). Spent brewer’s yeast extracts as a new component of functional food. Czech Journal of Food Sciences. 34. 554-563. 10.17221/419/2015-CJFS.  
  2. Gaspar LR, Camargo FB Jr, Gianeti MD, Maia Campos PM. Evaluation of dermatological effects of cosmetic formulations containing Saccharomyces cerevisiae extract and vitamins. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Nov;46(11):3493-500. doi: 10.1016/j.fct.2008.08.028. Epub 2008 Sep 2. PMID: 18804142.
  3. Liu, J.-X & Li, H. & Ni, H. & Li, H.-H. (2017). Skin Care Benefits of Odorless Brewer’s Yeast Extract. Modern Food Science and Technology. 33. 141-145 and 115. 10.13982/j.mfst.1673-9078.2017.8.021. 
  4. Iino, T. “Inhibition of Melanin Synthesis and Skin Whitening Effect by Heat-induced Yeast Extract” (2016).
  5. Zulli F, Suter F, Biltz H, Nissen HP. Improving skin function with CM-glucan, a biological response modifier from yeast. Int J Cosmet Sci. 1998 Apr;20(2):79-86. doi: 10.1046/j.1467-2494.1998.171740.x. PMID: 18505493.
Who wrote this?
Picture of Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu
Ana Vasilescu is the founder of Women's Concepts and a certified skincare consultant. She has over five years of experience working in the beauty editorial industry and over a decade as an acne sufferer. With a background in dermatological research, Ana brings a wealth of expertise to a diverse range of topics, from buzzy ingredients to anti-aging and acne advice. She holds a BA in Sociology and Political Sciences. Find her on LinkedIn or Instagram.
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