Betaine is named after its first discovery in sugar beet. Although synthetic versions are now possible, we prefer to stick with the natural! Fun fact: 100% of the UK's Sugar Beet crops are processed in Norfolk, where we are based.
Production extracts betaine from the molasses and vinasse of sugar beet, by-products of the sugar and ethanol industry, making it an incredibly sustainable ingredient. No waste is left over, which is one of the reasons we love this ingredient so much at Q+A!
The primary functions for betaine in cosmetic products is as a humectant and anti-irritant.
Humectants are molecules which bind water molecules to itself, which can increase your skin’s water retention, moisture absorption, and provide deeper hydration. Glycerine is probably one of the most commonly used humectant for skincare, except glycerine can also be quite sticky and upset the texture of whatever it has been added to… Not with betaine. Instead, it is regarded as giving formulations a silky texture, and having a smoothing effect over the viscosity of the product. If you’ve tried our Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum, I’m sure you agree! This is caused by being an osmolyte; organic compounds which maintain the durability of cells, able to adapt to environmental pressures that would stop them from doing their job.
Because betaine maintains cell water balance, it can produce a longer term effect, as you skin cells can accumulate the betaine and release it when necessary.
And as an anti-irritant? Betaine has been revealed to have anti-inflammatory properties for skin irritations, and can reduce the risk of a product causing a reaction. Because it improves your skin’s barrier integrity, not only are you not losing as much moisture through the layers of your skin, harmful or irritating substances also can’t get in. That includes potential chemical irritation, as well as pollutants and allergens.
The anti-inflammatory properties of Betaine can even be connected to lightening of hyper pigmentation spots.
Although this is all wonderful information, betaine is not always used in skincare for its full potential of benefits. It might be chosen just for improving the texture of a product, or for helping two otherwise insoluble ingredients mix happily. But hey, it’s still pretty impressive regardless of its inclusion.
If your skin is feeling particularly dry being holed up inside, perhaps the Hyaluronic Acid Facial Serum might be the pick-me-up your skin needs.
Hope you are staying safe (and hydrated),
Amy @ Team Q+A
Online community coordinator at Q+A and empty notebook collector