Polyglutamic Acid in Skincare, Explained

Polyglutamic Acid For Skin Care

By now, we’ve all heard a thing or two about polyglutamic acid (PGA) and its benefits for the skin. If you’re a little skincare-savvy, you’ve probably heard the claim that polyglutamic acid is more hydrating than hyaluronic acid (HA).

That claim is why it took me months to write this article because I’ve been trying to find the origin of it! As it turns out, that’s an irrelevant comparison!

Polyglutamic acid is not here to replace other hydrating goodies but to support them with, well, a little bit more to offer.

Find below everything there is to know about polyglutamic acid for the skin, its benefits, and how to use it in your skincare routine.

What Is Polyglutamic Acid?

Polyglutamic acid is a hydrating skincare ingredient commonly found in skincare products like face serums, and moisturizers.

Polyglutamic acid is made up of a chain of amino acids, namely glutamic acid, linked together. It’s derived from fermented soybeans, which happens to be a traditional Japanese dish called Natto.

In your skin care products, polyglutamic acid can show up with different names like gamma polyglutamic acid, sodium polyglutamate, or natto gum on the ingredient list.

As a substance, polyglutamic acid has a gummy, sticky feel to it with a gel-like texture. It creates a thin film when applied on the skin and leaves a silky smooth feel.

Benefits of Polyglutamic Acid

1. Hydrates

PGA is a humectant that hydrates the skin. Humectants work by attracting water from the environment and binding it to the skin. As a result, PGA gives the skin a plump, bouncy feel.

Polyglutamic acid is comparable to other hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid, and collagen, and is suggested to be an alternative to glycerin.

2. Helps Skin Retain Water

In addition to providing hydration, polyglutamic acid also helps the skin retain that water. This is all thanks to its film-forming properties, which prevent water loss.

3. Increases Natural Moisturizing Factors

Natural moisturizing factors (NMF) are a group of compounds responsible for keeping your skin moisturized. And polyglutamic acid increases the production of NMF. It aids in maintaining a healthy skin barrier.

4. Supports Hyaluronic Acid

Polyglutamic acid inhibits the activity of an enzyme responsible for breaking down hyaluronic acid in the skin. That’s how PGA supports and protects hyaluronic acid.

5. Improves Skin Elasticity

As a result of hydration and better moisture, polyglutamic acid reduces fine lines and wrinkles and improves skin elasticity. This can count as a major anti-aging benefit.

6. Has Soothing Benefits

Polyglutamic acid is claimed to have anti-inflammatory benefits too. It prevents redness caused by sun exposure and soothes redness on the skin.

Polyglutamic Acid vs Hyaluronic Acid

Both polyglutamic acid and hyaluronic acid are hydrating ingredients. That’s why they’re constantly compared to each other.

To better understand the difference, I reached out to Jae-Chul Choi, who is the Director of Cosmetics Development at BioLeaders Corporation, which is a Korea-based company that manufactures patented polyglutamic acid.

They have two different polyglutamic acid formulations called Gamma-Max and Gamma-Oligo. And yes, they do claim that it hydrates better than hyaluronic acid. Here’s how.

Polyglutamic acid has a higher molecular weight than hyaluronic acid. Though manufacturers use hydrolyzed PGA for better skin penetration, PGA is innately bigger in structure. So it can’t be as penetrative as hyaluronic acid.

This difference leads to better water retention on PGA’s part because PGA usually stays on the surface of the skin to create a barrier and prevent moisture loss.

Ever heard about hyaluronic acid dehydrating your skin? We’re told to apply a moisturizer on top of a hyaluronic acid serum to lock it in.

It’s because as much as HA is excellent at attracting water, it’s not a superstar when it comes to retaining water. That is not a problem for PGA. As we’ve established, it retains water.

Who Should Use Polyglutamic Acid?

Anyone who’s looking for enhanced hydration should consider incorporating this ingredient into their skincare routine. It’s especially helpful if you have dry and dehydrated skin.

When your hyaluronic acid serum lacks efficiency, you can pair it with polyglutamic acid for better and longer moisture.

Polyglutamic acid is a gentle, super-replenishing skincare ingredient. So even if you have sensitive skin like me, you can benefit from PGA.

So this is how polyglutamic acid works, and how it benefits your skin. Polyglutamic acid isn’t an ingredient that should replace other humectants you use in your routine. But it’s an amazing addition to any skincare routine where you need all the moisture you can get. It is in fact a noteworthy hydration hero. If you’re ready to give it a try, check out our round-up of the best polyglutamic acid products for some PGA-infused serums and creams!


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