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Why Polyglutamic Acid Is a Moisturizing Star

While certain ingredients tend to dominate the conversation in the skin-care world (looking at you, vitamin C), others fly under the radar until they’re finally, eventually brought into the limelight. And that’s exactly the case with polyglutamic acid, an ingredient that might be news to you but has actually been low-key appearing  in formulations for a while now.

The reason for its overnight celebrity? Evidence shows that polyglutamic acid acts like hyaluronic acid 2.0; it’s able to both protect the all-star molecule from breaking down and keep up with (and possibly even outperform) its hydrating abilities. It can do more than just serve as a buddie to hyaluronic acid, too. Here, everything you need to know about polyglutamic acid.

What is polyglutamic acid?

Just like tranexamic and hyaluronic acids before it, PGA is only an acid in structure — meaning it doesn’t function like the other exfoliating acids we know and love, like lactic and glycolic acids. Rather, PGA is a peptide, which is a type of short chain of amino acids that serves as a building block for key proteins in skin, such as collagen and elastin.

And it’s not the newest kid on the block: In fact, you might have been using PGA all along without realizing it. “Patients just now have become aware of it as a stand-alone ingredient, but chances are it may have been in some of their products already,” says Karan Lal, M.D., a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology in Hackensack, NJ.

What are its benefits?

And here we thought hyaluronic acid was impressive just because it can hold up to 1000 times its weight in water. Polyglutamic acid actually takes things a step further: “It’s a super humectant,” says Lal. “It holds water up to 10 times more than hyaluronic acid.”

Not only that, but it can also have a synergistic effect on hyaluronic acid, helping it to stick around longer so the latter can work its magic. “Hyaluronic acid undergoes breakdown by an enzyme called hyaluronidase, which occurs naturally in our skin,” says Lal. “PGA will not only hydrate your skin longer than hyaluronic acid, but will also limit hyaluronic acid’s breakdown by hyaluronidase — keeping your HA around longer.” For that reason, hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid are a winning ingredient combo.

As if that weren’t compelling enough, it’s also been shown to have wound-healing abilities, and a study in Microbiology also found that polyglutamic acid is able to boost Natural Moisturizing Factors (or NMFs) in the skin. These NMFs are naturally found throughout skin, where they help maintain the skin barrier, hydrate the surface layer of skin, and help shed dead skin cells — so they’re integral to overall healthy skin.

What’s more, that Microbiology paper also concluded that polyglutamic acid seems to be even better at boosting skin’s elasticity — improving how bouncy and firm it is — than either collagen and hyaluronic acid. If that’s not a reason to use it, we’re not sure what is.

And last but certainly not least, it creates a type of invisible moisture barrier on the skin, like a lightweight seal. That makes a super-smooth canvas for makeup application, allowing you to apply and blend it more smoothly and seamlessly.

How to use it in skincare

Polyglutamic acid is one of those magical skin-care ingredients that plays well with anyone, anytime, anywhere. “There are no drawbacks to using PGA — it can be used on the most sensitive skin,” says Lal, who recommends mixing it with foundation for an added glow. 

You can find it paired with hyaluronic acid (again, a dream team) in the Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream, which packs five weights of hyaluronic acid as well as antioxidant-rich plum. In this lightweight, cloud-like formula, polyglutamic acid effectively lets you reap more of the benefits of hyaluronic acid for a longer period of time, giving you smooth, healthy skin that stays hydrated all day long. (Plus, you’ll also find ice willowherb for oil control and to support the skin barrier.) Together, these ingredients make for a moisturizer that not only delivers lasting results, but also works for all skin types, concerns, and situations. Bottom line? There’s no better way to up your moisturizing game.

Keep reading about the coolest new skin-care ingredients:


Glow Recipe

Plum Plump Hyaluronic Cream


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