What You Need To Know About Adding Polyglutamic Acid To Your Skincare Routine

When it comes to skincare, you can be using all the trendy ingredients and fancy treatments, but if you aren't moisturizing your skin, you aren't doing yourself any favors. The main purpose of moisturizing your skin is "to increase the water content in the stratum corneum, the skin's outermost layer" to keep the skin hydrated (via Healthline). It also helps against premature signs of aging, and moisturized skin looks healthier. It's not just your face that needs it; you also need to moisturize your neck, chest, and hands. Most people think only dry skin needs a moisturizer, but every skin type needs it, including those with oily skin.

"Throughout the day, our skin loses moisture," Melissa Doft, a plastic surgeon, told Insider, explaining that we need to moisturize often. Dr. Doft added that age leads to us losing "oil-producing glands in the skin," which can also dry and damage our skin, and moisturizer helps strengthen the skin barrier. A good moisturizer should contain humectants like glycerin, emollients like shea butter, and occlusives like petroleum. Hyaluronic acid (HA), a humectant, is an extremely popular hydrating ingredient in many skin care products because of its benefits. Now, there's a new ingredient that dermatologists have been raving about — polyglutamic acid (PGA) — because of its powerful hydrating abilities, and you might want to add it to your skincare routine.

What is polyglutamic acid?

Polyglutamic acid (PGA) is a hydrating ingredient. Kelly Dobos, cosmetic scientist and former president of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists, told The Editorialist, "Polyglutamic acid is a natural polymer first isolated from the sticky paste of a fermented Japanese soybean dish called Nattō." In the past, PGA was used to heal wounds because it has "impressive water solubility and high capacity for tissue repair." Ingredients that have the power to heal wounds are popular in skincare products because age and environmental factors can damage our skin barrier. Since it's a humectant, it can attract moisture to the skin's surface and keep your skin hydrated for a long time. After all, hydrated skin is healthy skin. 

In fact, legendary makeup artist Charlotte Tilbury told Byrdie, "Polyglutamic acid is an incredible humectant that holds four times more moisture than hyaluronic acid (HA) — my skin just drinks it in!" Tilbury further called it "a hydration powerhouse!" It seems everyone's favorite HA has some tough competition on its hands with another moisturizing ingredient promising much more hydration.

Benefits of polyglutamic acid

Hyaluronic acid (HA) has an impressive reputation because it can hold "1,000 times its weight in water," and that's precisely why your skin looks dewy and plump after using it (via Healthline). It seems that polyglutamic acid (PGA) does much more, though the exact number might differ depending on the source. Scientist Michelle Wong of Lab Muffin Beauty Science told Byrdie, "Ingredient suppliers claim it can hold 10 times more water than hyaluronic acid, which is very impressive." 

Furthermore, Charlotte Tilbury noted that it's four times more potent than HA. Meanwhile, Dermatologist Pearl E. Grimes said PGA could hold "4,000 to 5,000 times its own weight," per HuffPost. Regardless of the exact amount, PGA is way more hydrating than HA because it's bigger and also acts like an occlusive for skin protection. 

In addition to being a powerful hydrating agent, PGA can also diminish the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and increase the amount of natural HA in your skin (via The Editorialist). Board-certified dermatologist Dr. Elizabeth Kiracofe told the outlet, "studies have found that PGA can decrease the breakdown of natural hyaluronic acid in our skin by inhibiting an enzyme called hyaluronidase, making it an effective preventative product." 

PGA can reduce pore size, improve skin elasticity, and replace moisture in the cells, and it can help all skin types, especially those with dry and dehydrated skin, per Byrdie. You can use it any time of the day and can get extra moisturizing benefits from using it with HA.

Polyglutamic acid does not occur naturally in the body

You must have seen collagen-boosting products on the market, but our body naturally makes collagen, which is responsible for giving the body and the skin its shape (via Skincare.com). As we age, our body produces less collagen. Dr. Winnie Moses, a board-certified medical aesthetics doctor, told the outlet, "This causes the majority of aging concerns like fine lines, wrinkles, volume loss, jowls, sagging and dull skin." Dr. Moses added that rather than buying collagen products, it's more beneficial to invest in "professional treatments and exfoliating products to stimulate collagen synthesis." 

However, our body doesn't make its own polyglutamic acid, so we have to apply it topically. Scientist Michelle Wong told Byrdie, "Polyglutamic acid is created when lots of glutamic acid molecules are linked together." You need bacterial fermentation to create it. Though it doesn't naturally occur in the body, it can help "inhibit the action of hyaluronidase," to prevent the loss of naturally occurring hyaluronic acid in the body and give you super moisturized skin that looks more youthful and plump.

There aren't too many options for polyglutamic acid products (yet)

Humectants like glycerin and hyaluronic acid (HA) are common in drugstores and prestige skin care products for their hydrating abilities. You might wonder why something even more powerful like polyglutamic acid (PGA) isn't everywhere. Well, it comes down to cost. You don't see many products with PGA because, according to Charlotte Tilbury, it's a more expensive ingredient in a market filled with more affordable options like HA, which can explain why not every brand has its own PGA cream or serum (via Byrdie).

Though PGA works on all skin types, it's a relatively new ingredient in the skincare world and needs more research. However, studies have shown that it's better at hydrating and "improving skin elasticity" than humectants like HA and propylene glycol, per Healthy Asks. You haven't seen tons of PGA products in beauty aisles because it's pricier than popular HA, and brands tend to choose ingredients that "have a higher profit margin." We know it does an excellent job, but we might need to wait a bit longer for brands to develop their PGA products.

Best polyglutamic acid products

Research and dermatologists say polyglutamic acid (PGA) is way better at hydrating your skin than the super popular hyaluronic acid, so it's only a matter of time till more people try this under-the-radar ingredient till it becomes a staple in their skincare routine. Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir has PGA and vitamin C for better-looking skin. According to the brand's website, this award-winning serum showed that 93% said their skin looked younger, 97% felt their skin was "intensely hydrated," and 91% noticed fewer wrinkles in the user trials. It retails for $80, but it may be worth the splurge.

Meanwhile, Then I Met You The Giving Essence is great because it's a powerful infusion of "80$ fermented ingredients and polyglutamic acid." It also has 5% niacinamide to give you glowy skin and other antioxidants like red algae and berries. Try it for the most radiant and moisturized skin of your life for $50. For an affordable pick, try The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Serum because, at the time of writing, it's the only product with PGA as its main ingredient. It also fights dullness and uneven skin texture and works as a great primer for makeup, all for about $15.