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What Is Polyglutamic Acid, and How Can It Help Your Skin?

A woman has moisturizer on her cheek, a person places serum on their hand, and a person has a serum on their cheek.
Glow Recipe/Dermalogica/The Inkey List

Who doesn’t wasn’t plump, moisturized skin? While countless products exist to achieve that, one buzzworthy ultra-hydrating skincare ingredient has joined the pack of online viral products—and is definitely worth the hype.

Polyglutamic acid works wonders for drawing moisture back into the skin, and there’s a reason everyone is talking about it. We spoke to Dr. Kimberly Shao, board-certified dermatologist at Dayton Skin Care and Cancer Center in Dayton, Ohio, to give us the low-down on this moisture-locking ingredient.

What Exactly is Polyglutamic Acid?

A bottle of Inkey List product, a woman with glowing skin
The Inkey List

Essentially, polyglutamic acid is a skincare ingredient that helps draw moisture from the atmosphere into the skin. It sounds like a miracle ingredient, right?

According to Dr. Shao, polyglutamic acid was discovered in East Asia and is derived from super-healthy fermented soybeans. This versatile ingredient is edible, water-soluble, non-toxic, and biodegradable.

Polyglutamic acid is a humectant—a common moisturizing agent found in many hydrating skin care products—and is similar to other well-known skin-quenching ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin. In fact, according to Dr. Shao, polyglutamic acid is actually stronger than hyaluronic acid.

Your skin naturally produces hyaluronic acid, which keeps itself moisturized. As you age, your skin produces less, which makes it drier and more dehydrated. However, according to Dr. Shao, there is research that suggests that polyglutamic acid can inhibit hyaluronidase which actually breaks down the beneficial acid.

What Benefits Does Polyglutamic Acid Have on the Skin?

Face cream and woman with cream on face
Glow Recipe

It might be evident that moisturizing the skin is the most significant benefit that polyglutamic acid provides, and it goes without saying that hydrated skin is very important. Skin that is adequately moisturized is less sensitive to irritants and germs and keeps the premature appearance of wrinkles and acne at bay.

But the benefits of polyglutamic acid go beyond that. According to Dr. Shao, polyglutamic acid can improve one’s skin moisture barrier, which often leads to “younger,” fresher-looking skin.

“Polyglutamic acid improves the skin’s ‘plumpness,’ leading to less visible fine lines, and can enhance the skin’s luminosity and dewy glow,” Dr. Shao said.

Glow Recipe Plum Plump Hyaluronic Acid Face Cream

Infused with hyaluronic acid to provide ultra hydration.

A healthy skin barrier keeps moisture in and pollutants out. When that barrier is weakened or damaged, it becomes dry and doesn’t do as great of a job at keeping all those pollutants like UV rays, cold, heat, and environmental irritants off the skin. Polyglutamic acid helps to keep that barrier strong and healthy, providing a moisturized, clear complexion.

How Do You Use Polyglutamic Acid?

Woman applying serum
Charlotte Tilbury

Charlotte's Magic Serum Crystal Elixir

Infused with vitamin C and polyglutamic acid, this anti-aging serum plumps the skin and reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Polyglutamic acid has been formulated into mostly serums and moisturizers that can be implemented into your skincare routine—morning and night. According to Dr. Shao, it can also be combined with other ingredients, including hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.

Polyglutamic acid can also be used to counteract the common drying side effect of retinol and retinoid acids. Those who use retinoids can incorporate polyglutamic acid into their skincare regimen (morning and night) to add that much-needed moisture back into the skin.

“When using a serum that contains polyglutamic acid, I would suggest putting it on over other products with the exception of sunscreen, which should be last,” Dr. Shao said.

Polyglutamic acid supplements are also an option that you can take orally, says Dr. Shao. However, she says there is little to no data on its ability to improve skin health and appearance.

Who Should Use Polyglutamic Acid?

Serum bottle and woman applying serum to hand

By now, it’s no surprise that polyglutamic acid is ideal for dry or dehydrated skin. However, those with sufficiently hydrated and moisturized skin can also benefit from incorporating this ingredient into their skincare routine, as it helps keep a healthy and strong skin barrier intact.

Dermalogica Circular Hydration Serum

For 10+ hours of hydration.

According to Dr. Shao, there are generally “no big red flags or warnings” regarding who chooses to use this product, as it is safe for all skin types and tones. However, it is not recommended that you start slathering it on your face once you get your hands on it, especially if you have sensitive skin.

“Just with any new product or ingredient, one should do a test patch before using it on large areas of the face,” Dr. Shao advised.

There’s a reason polyglutamic acid has been trending online recently, and now we can see why. For plump, fresh, healthy-looking skin—polyglutamic acid may be the ingredient your skincare routine needs.

Lindsay Ray Lindsay Ray
Lindsay is a lifestyle and beauty writer currently living in Arizona. She has several years of experience as a freelance writer and reporter, with a specialized interest in the beauty and lifestyle space. From beauty hacks to DIY home décor and everything in between -- Lindsay has a passion for crafting stories that entertain, educate, and inspire. Her writing has appeared in Thought Catalog, The List, Drink Me Magazine, the Auburn Examiner, and Litro Magazine in the United Kingdom. Read Full Bio »
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