β-Glucans are natural cell wall polysaccharides found in yeast, fungi (including mushrooms), some bacteria, seaweeds and cereals. Natural β-glucans possess many health promotion effects on human health, such as anti-tumor, anti-diabetes, anti-infection, lowering blood cholesterol and immune-modulating properties. These effects have been reviewed previously. However, skin health promotion of β-glucan derived from cereals and microorganisms has received little attention. This review focuses on antioxidant activity, anti-wrinkle activity, anti-ultraviolet light, wound healing, and moisturizing effect and skin permeation absorption of β-glucan. Furthermore, applications of β-glucan in cosmetics are also discussed. Copyright © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.