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Learn All About Glucosamine In Skincare: A Less Known Powerhouse With Promising Benefits

Here we answer all your questions surrounding the benefits of glucosamine for the skin.
  • Glucosamine is an amino sugar the body uses to repair cartilage and maintain tissue hydration.
  • Research shows that glucosamine benefits the skin when taken orally or applied topically.
  • One of the roles of glucosamine in skincare is to stimulate hyaluronic acid synthesis and boost moisture retention.
  • Other benefits include skin brightening, minimizing wrinkles, accelerating wound healing, and enhancing skin firmness.
  • Glucosamine is considered safe and suitable for all skin types, particularly in concentrations of 4%.

While glucosamine isn’t one of the most popular ingredients in the skincare scene, the research going into its skin benefits is certainly promising. The results are more than clear-cut and show that glucosamine is crucial for maintaining skin hydration and plays a fundamental role in repairing the skin, healing wounds, and brightening dark spots. However, the best part about glucosamine in skincare is the fact that it’s an element present in our body, which makes it super friendly for the skin — even more reasons to love it.

What is glucosamine?

Glucosamine is a naturally occurring amino sugar that the body uses to build and repair cartilage as well as maintain tissue hydration.[1] Glucosamine can do that thanks to its ability to produce glycosaminoglycans and proteoglycans, parts of connective tissue responsible for many functions within the body, such as regulating cell growth and proliferation, promoting cell adhesion, and attracting water molecules into the skin.[1]

The big deal about glycosaminoglycans is that they can retain large quantities of water and are essential for maintaining the skin’s structural integrity.[2] On the other hand, proteoglycans are critical components that give skin structure and represent the main substance that fills up the spaces between the cells, maintaining skin firmness and preventing wrinkles. You may not be familiar with glycosaminoglycans, but you surely have heard about hyaluronic acid, which is a glycosaminoglycan. Hence, glucosamine ultimately stimulates hyaluronic aid production.

Furthermore, glucosamine is found in several forms in skincare formulations, including N-acetyl glucosamine, glucosamine sulfate, and glucosamine hydrochloride.[3]

Glucosamine benefits for skin

Improves skin hydration

Since glucosamine stimulates hyaluronic acid synthesis, it can accelerate skin recovery, improve moisture retention, and reduce wrinkles. According to studies, it expresses most of its skincare benefits whether applied topically or taken orally.[3]

As a matter of fact, the topical treatment with glucosamine is considered an essential cofactor (aka helper molecule) for hyaluronic acid synthesis, helping enhance skin hydration and heal wounds.[3][4][5] Similarly, during one study, the intake of 1000 mg glucosamine for two months drastically increased skin moisture and reduced the oil and fat content.

Reduces fine lines and wrinkles

By increasing the levels of hyaluronic acid, glucosamine can reduce the look of fine lines and wrinkles. More than that, glucosamine was found to support the production of collagen type I and IV as well as prevent protein degradation.[3][5][6] Moreover, glucosamine stimulates proteoglycans, proteins that play a major role in skin structure and whose degradation makes the complexion appear more fragile and delicate.[2][7] During a study, facial wrinkles were significantly improved by topical 2% N-acetyl glucosamine.[3]

Diminishes skin discoloration

Glucosamine is a potent brightening agent that may help with conditions such as melasma and hyperpigmentation.[3] Specifically, glucosamine inhibits melanin production (skin-darkening pigment) by preventing the activation of tyrosinase — the enzyme that regulates melanin synthesis. During multiple studies, 2% glucosamine has been found effective in reducing skin discoloration and fading dark spots.[8][9] Interestingly, glucosamine delivers more intense brightening effects when used with 4% niacinamide.

Anti-inflammatory and antioxidant

Last but not least, glucosamine possesses anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, being a great skin replenisher and protector.

Is glucosamine safe for skin?

Since glucosamine is found in the body, it is considered safe for the skin whether and carries no serious adverse effects. Glucosamine is also gentle enough to be applied twice daily, helping to hydrate and repair the tissue. Glucosamine can be used with most actives in skincare, such as retinol, vitamin C, and alpha-hydroxy acids, and may even be beneficial to counteract their possible drying effects. Nevertheless, pregnant and breastfeeding women should consult a doctor before using glucosamine, especially supplements.

Glucosamine uses in skincare

Glucosamine is available in supplements, creams, masks, and serums. Its derivatives are most often used in skincare formulations as active ingredients in brightening products targeting skin discolorations. Thanks to its restorative properties, glucosamine is also a core ingredient in products targeting skin repair.

The best skincare products with glucosamine

Here’s a list of the best glucosamine-containing products:

The takeaway

Glucosamine is definitely a promising ingredient that helps maintain skin integrity. Not only is glucosamine a great moisturizer, but it does a great job at replenishing the skin, minimizing aging marks, increasing antioxidant defense, and lightening discolorations.


Women’s Concepts uses reliable sources, including dermatologists’ insights, clinical trials, and scientific journals, to find accurate information and support all the facts shared in our articles. All statements and claims have clear and legit references. Read our editorial policy to learn more about our sources of information, our process of researching and fact-checking the content, and how our team strives to keep all articles updated, completed, and trustworthy.

  1. Casale J, Crane JS. Biochemistry, Glycosaminoglycans. [Updated 2021 May 9]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2021 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544295/
  2. Ruiz Martínez, M., Peralta Galisteo, S., Castán, H. and Morales Hernández, M. (2020), Role of proteoglycans on skin ageing: a review. Int J Cosmet Sci, 42: 529-535. https://doi.org/10.1111/ics.12660
  3. Bissett DL. Glucosamine: an ingredient with skin and other benefits. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2006 Dec;5(4):309-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2006.00277.x. PMID: 17716251.
  4. Sayo T, Sakai S, Inoue S. Synergistic effect of N-acetylglucosamine and retinoids on hyaluronan production in human keratinocytes. Skin Pharmacol Physiol. 2004 Mar-Apr;17(2):77-83. doi: 10.1159/000076017. PMID: 14976384.
  5. Gueniche A, Castiel-Higounenc I: Efficacy of Glucosamine Sulphate in Skin Ageing: Results from an ex vivo Anti-Ageing Model and a Clinical Trial. Skin Pharmacol Physiol 2017;30:36-41. doi: 10.1159/000450832
  6. Tiku, M.L., Narla, H., Jain, M. et al. Glucosamine prevents in vitro collagen degradation in chondrocytes by inhibiting advanced lipoxidation reactions and protein oxidation. Arthritis Res Ther 9, R76 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1186/ar2274
  7. Lee DH, Oh JH, Chung JH. Glycosaminoglycan and proteoglycan in skin aging. J Dermatol Sci. 2016 Sep;83(3):174-81. doi: 10.1016/j.jdermsci.2016.05.016. Epub 2016 May 27. PMID: 27378089.
  8. Bissett DL, Robinson LR, Raleigh PS, Miyamoto K, Hakozaki T, Li J, Kelm GR. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation by topical N-acetyl glucosamine. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2007 Mar;6(1):20-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1473-2165.2007.00295.x. PMID: 17348991.
  9. Kimball AB, Kaczvinsky JR, Li J, Robinson LR, Matts PJ, Berge CA, Miyamoto K, Bissett DL. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation after use of moisturizers with a combination of topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine: results of a randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2010 Feb 1;162(2):435-41. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2133.2009.09477.x. Epub 2009 Aug 28. PMID: 19845667.
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