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Photography Suzie Q and Leo Siboni

Polyglutamic Acid 101: what you need to know about the new super hydrator


TextAlex Peters

Here’s the lowdown on skincare’s hot new ingredient, which can hold ten times more moisture than beauty fave hyaluronic acid

You’ve heard of hyaluronic acid, the holy grail of hydration which is used in skincare to reduce the loss of moisture – it can hold up to 1000x its own weight in water. Well now there’s a new skincare ingredient in town and it can hold ten times more moisture than hyaluronic acid.

Derived from fermented soybeans, polyglutamic acid (PGA) contains anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, and face rejuvenating properties, helping to aid the skin’s natural exfoliation process, minimise pigmentation, boost elasticity and stimulate the skin's natural moisturising processes. “PGA is a humectant meaning it pulls water into itself so it is extremely hydrating and moisturising,” explains Dr Ejikeme, medical director and founder of Adonia Medical Clinic.

Not only does it draw more water into the skin but it also creates a seal that stops water from evaporating thus ensuring maximum hydration. Most skin types can use it, although it’s particularly good for dehydrated skin. If you have sensitive skin remember to do a patch test before fully committing yourself.

PGA can be found in a number of serums and moisturisers. The Inkey List has a straightforwardly named Polyglutamic Acid Serum and Charlotte Tilbury’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir and Zelens Z-Melatonin Night Repair Serum also both contain the hydration powerhouse. For moisturisers look for Kate Somerville’s DermalQuench Wrinkle Warrior and Farmacy Beauty Daily Greens moisturiser, or for your eyes the Decorté Liposome Eye Cream.

If you are new to skincare and are unsure where to begin with the wide world of acids, Dr Ejikeme says you should have a consultation with a skincare specialist to determine the correct skin acids for your skin type. “Ensure your skin is well hydrated and you already have a good skincare routine before using acids,” she says, “including a cleanser, antioxidants, moisturiser and sunscreen, in that order.”

Once you have this then you can introduce acids slowly. “Leave a few days in between each use and gradually build up to three to five times a week,” she advises. “It is also ok to take a break from acids now and then, after a few months, take a break and see how your skin reacts before starting again.”

As a rough and general guide, Dr Ejikeme says salicylic acid are best used on oily skin types and lactic acid is most helpful for dry skin types. Glycolic acid can be used for brightening the skin, while mandelic acid is better for brightening darker skin types. 

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