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Benefits of Barley for the Skin (And Why Black Barley is the Best)

Barley's Benefits for the Skin

Barley, especially the black variety, has properties that may make it an effective treatment for a number of skin problems. It is rich in azelaic acid, a proven anti-acne compound and tyrosine inhibitor, and might therefore provide benefits for people suffering from acne-prone skin or hyperpigmentation and age spots. The high levels of anthocyanins found in purple or black barley may also help slow down aging of the skin and prevent wrinkles.

Here's the full scoop on the benefits of barley for the skin:

Benefits for Acne-Prone Skin

Here's a diet tip for people with acne-prone skin: eat more whole grain barley. Not only does hulled barley help keep acne-causing hormones such as circulating androgen and insulin-like growth factor in check by preventing insulin spikes, this healthy whole grain is also loaded with acne-fighting nutrients such as zinc and B vitamins.

But the benefits of barley for acne-prone skin may extend beyond the use of barley as food.

You see, barley contains azelaic acid, a compound that has been shown to effectively treat acne rosacea and mild and moderate cases of inflammatory acne vulgaris when applied topically. In fact, some of the most sold acne and rosacea creams and gels – such as AZClear, Azelex, Finevin and Skinoren – draw on the beneficial effects of azelaic acid on the skin.

In case of acne vulgaris, azelaic acid works its magic by killing the bacteria that infect skin pores and by slowing down the production of keratin, a substance that promotes the growth of acne-causing bacteria. In case of rosacea, azelaic acid works by reducing skin inflammation.

Tip: For a DIY anti-bacterial face mask, combine equal parts of barley flour and manuka honey (manuka honey has been shown to kill acne causing bacteria in laboratory studies), apply the mask to your face, and let it sit on your skin for 10 minutes before rinsing it off.

Azelaic Acid, Abundant in Barley, Fights Hyperpigmentation and Age Spots

While home-made barley masks, naturally rich in azelaic acid, do not seem to be a particularly interesting research subject among scientists, there is a large body of scientific evidence that suggests that at least commercially produced azelaic acid can help reduce hyperpigmentation.

This annoying but typically not dangerous skin condition develops when the melanin-producing cells at the lower layer of the epidermis produce too much melanin. Often manifested as age spots, hyperpigmentation can be caused by many things, including sun damage or other skin injuries, inflammation or acne vulgaris.

Topical treatments for hyperpigmentation – such as azelaic acid and skin whitening bearberry extracts – typically work by inhibiting tyrosinase, an enzyme that is involved in the production of melanin, the pigment that gives your skin and hair their color.

Black Barley (or Purple Prairie Barley) Provides Skin-Protecting Anthocyanins

All types of barley appear to have benefits for the skin, but purple or black barley may be the best type of barley for you if you are concerned about wrinkles and pre-mature aging of the skin.

This is because black barley contains anthocyanins, the same reddish purple flavonoid pigments that give foods like blueberries, acai berries, blue haskap berries, black (purple) carrots, Concord grapes, aronia berries, and black beans their intense colors and amazing antioxidant properties. In one study, researchers from the Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging found that the in-vitro antioxidant properties of anthocyanins are even stronger than those of Trolox, a vitamin E analogue.

Antioxidants – such as the anthocyanins found in black barley – can help slow down the formation of wrinkles and fine lines on the skin by destroying free radicals, unstable molecules that cause cellular damage to the skin. Anti-wrinkle properties aside, antioxidant-rich foods, such as black barley, also make a great addition to anti-cellulite diets.

Book You May Like
Gluten-Free CookbookIf you are looking for a solid offline resource to support you on your journey to acne-free skin, check out The Clear Skin Prescription by bestselling author and acclaimed celebrity dermatologist Nicholas Perricone, M.D. In this compelling book, Dr Perricone dispels common medical myths about acne and explains how specific dietary habits, supplements, and topical remedies can be used successfully to treat acne. The book features great before-and-after photos, interesting scientific research, and plenty of clear skin promoting recipes to try your hand at! Available from Amazon.