Knowing all too well the skin-spoiling effects of a happy hour stretched far past a single hour, I used to assume that booze is to complexion clarity as money is to Madoff. Too much of a good thing can bring out the worst. Of course, I know that red wine has resveratrol and that vitis vinifera, the grape vine species that produces over 99% of the world's wine, is loaded with antioxidants. But surely beer can do no good for the skin, right?
It seemed ironic when Anheuser-Busch, the maker of Budweiser, bought Borba, one of the original "beauty drink" brands. Ok, it's still ironic, but the union of beer and health — it turns out — may be decidedly shrewd. From Japan to Germany, thousands upon thousands of research studies have examined the effects of beer on the body. Not only has beer shown to have antibacterial properties, which protect against the heliobacter infection in the stomach, but it also might be an effective weapon against kidney stones. Based on this evidence, Poland and the Czech Republic have state-funded programs that reimburse individuals who are prescribed beer for the treatment of urological conditions.
Even more interesting is the variety of reasons for the topical application of beer. In ancient Egypt, long considered the birthplace of beer, women of the upper classes used beer for all sorts of cosmetic and therapeutic purposes, such as to freshen the skin and reduce the risk of skin conditions. 4,000 years later, scientific studies have confirmed that beer sediment (brewer's yeast) can help improve the symptoms of acne by slowing down sebum production and killing off the bacteria that triggers acne. This component of beer, an inactive yeast that no longer has leavening power, helps maintain a balanced pH level in the skin.
Brewer's yeast is made up of unicellular micro-organisms called saccaromyces cereviseae, which thrive on the skin's surface. Because they are asexual, these tiny organisms can proliferate up to 24 new cells at a time, thus leaving no opportunity for acne-friendly bacteria to take hold on the skin's surface. A trial conducted in 2006 at Munich University found that a skin preparation containing young brewer's yeast cells dramatically improved the skin of acne sufferers within three weeks.
With its abundance of nutrients like riboflavin, pantothenic acid, biotin, and vitamin b12, brewer's yeast is more often found as a dietary supplement (in powdered, flake, tablet, and pill form) than in a topical treatment. But cosmetic companies are increasingly taking note of its benefits and have begun to incorporate brewer's yeast as an active ingredient in their formulas. In the past few years, Germany's leading natural skincare range, Dayenne, has been introducing young brewer's yeast-boasting cosmeceuticals as remedies against skin impurities. Dayenne's formulas regulate the level of sebum produced by the skin's pores and keep the skin at a healthy 5.0 pH mark.
The bioactive molecule xanthohumol (present in hops) has shown to have antioxidant and anti-cancer effects 100 times that of green tea and soy, though its content in beer is very low (.01 to .2 mg per liter). Who knows whether the components of beer can have any real health benefits when absorbed through the skin. All we know for sure is that applying beer topically can clear up your complexion, treat dry flakes, and smooth texture. It is said that the panthothenic acid and vitamin B complex in beer has the ability to make the skin smooth and supple.
Whatever the reasons for beer's skin benefits, it's worth a try if you have dry or acne-ridden skin. If you're not sold on brewer's yeast is cosmetic products or nutritional supplements, start small with our moisturizing homemade beer mask. Once a way to get away from the day's problems, beer may be an equally good escape from your skin problems for the day.