Polyglutamic Acid: Is It the New Hydration Powerhouse?


by Ramona Sinha

Polyglutamic acid (PGA) is the new skin care ingredient making waves in the beauty industry. This ultra-hydrating polypeptide is dubbed as the new but improved “hyaluronic acid” and is all set to replace this reigning skin hydrator. But is it really better than hyaluronic acid? What is the real deal about polyglutamic acid? If you have dry skin and the hullaballoo over PGA has piqued your interest, scroll through this article to learn the truth and understand how it may transform your skin.

What Is Polyglutamic Acid?

Polyglutamic acid is a naturally occurring polymer produced from soybeans fermented with Bacillus subtilis (1). It is formed when glutamic acid (a type of amino acid) molecules are linked together. Polyglutamic acid is the main ingredient in nattō, traditional Japanese food prepared from fermented soybeans. It is water-soluble, non-toxic, and biodegradable and is often used as a thickener, biological glue, and humectant (1).

Polyglutamic acid hydrates the skin and maintains its elasticity (2). You may wonder if PGA functions in the same manner as hyaluronic acid, what is the point of using it? Unlike hyaluronic acid, PGA does not occur naturally in your skin. However, it works better than hyaluronic acid. Here are the benefits it offers.

Benefits of Using Polyglutamic Acid

1. Provides Hydration

Research suggests that PGA has moisturizing effects and can maintain skin elasticity better than hyaluronic acid (HA) and collagen. Its water retention capacity is 10 times more than hyaluronic acid, and 0.2% of PGA holds the same amount of water as 5% glycerol (2). This means if you have dry and parched skin, PGA can easily quench its thirst better than HA.

2. Keeps The Skin Youthful

Well-hydrated skin stays plump and youthful. Polyglutamic acid maintains skin elasticity, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and keeps your skin youthful, soft, and supple. Products with PGA may have anti-aging effects on the skin (3).

3. Has Wound Healing Properties

Animal studies reveal that PGA can heal wounds by improving collagen production and blood vessel regeneration. It also increases the levels of transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β) and beta-catenin proteins to speed up healing (4).

4. May Heal Skin Infections

Polyglutamic acid is effective against acne-causing bacteria S.aureus and the yeast Candida albicans that causes fungal infections like athlete’s foot, jock itch, diaper rash, and nail fungus (2).

Although polyglutamic acid has multiple benefits and seems better than hyaluronic acid, both should not be compared. Let’s understand why.

Polyglutamic Acid Vs. Hyaluronic Acid

PGA is indeed an excellent hydrating ingredient. It can absorb moisture up to 5000 times its weight, while hyaluronic acid holds 1000 times its weight in water. However, the water retention capacity of PGA may change as per the acidity and pH of the product (gel, cream, or lotion).

Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in your skin layers to keep it moisturized. Polyglutamic acid helps prevent hyaluronidase (an enzyme that degrades hyaluronic acid). In other words, applying PGA to your skin can prevent the breakdown of hyaluronic acid, keeping your skin hydrated for longer. It also creates a seal to prevent moisture loss.

While hyaluronic acid works within the skin layers to improve its hydration levels, polyglutamic acid stays on the skin surface to lock in moisture. Together, these ingredients can provide your skin with the ultimate punch of hydration.

Polyglutamic acid is not going to replace hyaluronic acid. Using both together can give the best effects. Now, let’s understand how you may use it.

How To Use Polyglutamic Acid And Who Can Use It?

Polyglutamic acid is best for dry and dehydrated skin. However, all skin types can use this ingredient for hydration. Polyglutamic acid is used as an ingredient in lotions, creams, gels, and serums. You may combine it with other ingredients like vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, ceramides, vitamin C, niacinamide, and peptides to keep your skin plump, bright, and visibly smoother.

Does Polyglutamic Acid Have Any Side Effects?

Polyglutamic acid is suitable for all skin types and does not have any side effects.  However, before buying a product with PGA, check the ingredient list to ensure you are not allergic to any other ingredient in the formulation.

If you have sensitive skin and are new to this ingredient, do a patch test to avoid allergic reactions. In the next section, we have listed a few products containing polyglutamic acid.

Best Polyglutamic Acid-based Products

1. THE INKEY LIST Polyglutamic Acid

The serum has a lightweight, silky-smooth texture and helps refine fine lines and spots. It also doubles as a makeup base.

2. Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir

This product by Charlotte Tilbury combines polyglutamic acid with other ingredients to keep your skin supercharged, bright, and hydrated.

To Conclude

Polyglutamic acid is an ultra-hydrating ingredient that works on the skin surface and minimizes hyaluronic acid degradation in your skin to keep it hydrated. You can use polyglutamic acid along with hyaluronic acid to keep your skin nourished, plump, soft, and youthful.

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Ramona Sinha

Ramona is a journalist-turned-content writer. She holds a Master’s degree in English Literature and has been writing for the digital world for over five years. She specializes in writing for Skin Care. She has done a certificate course titled ‘Dermatology: Trip To The Skin’, offered by Novosibirsk State University. She believes that beauty begins with a good skin care regimen and is on a mission to eliminate all toxins from her routine. She helps and guides readers in selecting products and ingredients specific to their skin type/issue. When Ramona is not working, her books and passion for music, good food, and traveling keep her busy.
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