Why Polyglutamic Acid Is the New Secret to Forever Glowing and Hydrated Skin

The benefits of polyglutamic acid for skin have stormed the beauty world for good reasons.
  • Polyglutamic acid is a water-grabbing peptide that acts as a humectant
  • It’s often derived from fermented soybeans
  • The skin benefits of polyglutamic acid include boosting moisture, accelerating wound healing, and plumping wrinkles look
  • It’s suitable for all skin types and can be used twice daily
  • Polyglutamic acid can be paired with any skincare active, including hyaluronic acid, retinol, niacinamide, and vitamin C

One of the best Asian beauty innovations to date, the market for ferments in skincare is ever-growing. Today’s hero has origins in popular Japanese snacks yet even rivals the likes of hyaluronic acid and other beloved humectants — enter polyglutamic acid. A source of savory umami flavor, polyglutamic acid in skincare could soon be spicing up your beauty routine. Don’t worry, though; ultra-soothing with intense hydration and anti-aging benefits, the bold flavor contrasts a healing nature. So what drives this humble ferment’s claim to fame?

What is polyglutamic acid?

Polyglutamic acid or PGA is a polymer of glutamic acid, an essential amino acid your body uses to make proteins. This water-grabbing peptide is made when fermented glutamic acid is joined together to form a larger molecule, responsible for some of the unique polyglutamic acid benefits for skin.[1] It was first popularized for healing wounds, where its moisture-locking properties garnered interest for beauty addicts, and now its perks have been exploited to the maximum, being a reputed skin-protector and anti-ager more and more used in skincare products. [3] P.S.: This natural bio-degradable element is often derived from fermented soybeans.[2]

The benefits of polyglutamic acid for skin

Polyglutamic acid has tough competition in the world of moisturizers, yet this quiet peptide is one of the strongest humectants in skincare. While the larger molecule doesn’t penetrate as deeply into the skin, it packs a lot of hydration. According to one 2014 study, polyglutamic acid moisturizes skin better than hyaluronic acid, holding up to 4x the water according to some sources.[4] Friendly for all skin types, it works best on dry, dehydrated skin thirsting for intense surface-level hydration.

Polyglutamic acid in skincare also works to target those fine lines and wrinkles, plumping up more delicate layers of skin. Especially effective at taming fine lines that develop from dehydration, PGA forms an elastic layer minimizing the appearance of wrinkles.[5] Besides, the large structure of polyglutamic acid creates a soft film over the skin, locking in hydration and your other skincare products.[6] So you can just paint on wrinkle-blasting hydration — hopefully, it comes by the gallon!

Last but not least, polyglutamic acid is must-have for its preventative anti-aging properties, boosting natural moisturizing factors (NMFs) to aid in skin repair.[6] More precisely, it was found that topical use of polyglutamic acid can increase the production of such NMFs as pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), lactic acid, and urocanic acid — all needed to maintain proper skin hydration and overall integrity.[6]

It turns out polyglutamic acid is a true anti-aging contended that helps improve skin elasticity and firmness better than topical collagen and hyaluronic acid.[7] More than that, by using products with polyglutamic acid, your skin can keep itself plumper more organically as PGA inhibits the enzyme hyaluronidase, a big baddie for age-related hyaluronic acid loss.[8] The result is better moisture retention and faster healing for a healthier, more youthful complexion.

Is it safe?

Naturally occurring in fermented foods, polyglutamic acid is a fairly safe ingredient, suitable for all skin types.[9] It’s not been shown to react with other skincare products, and its gentle hydration pairs well with more sensitizing actives. Reactions are rare; however possible polyglutamic acid side effects can include itchiness and redness.[10] While beneficial for damaged skin, you should always be careful and patch test new products, especially since dehydrated skin is more at risk for sensitivity.

How to use polyglutamic acid

While just slathering yourself in everything PGA might be tempting, stick to quality formulations. Despite the oral forms of polyglutamic acid boasting several health uses, you should look for topical products for the best benefits of polyglutamic acid for skin.[1]

The most effective skincare comes from serums infused with 0.2-3% polyglutamic acid, with higher concentrations taking the best advantage of its hydrating properties.[5] As a humectant, it’s essential to apply PGA after serums or to a damp face, especially if you live in dryer climates with low humidity or when your skin is craving extra hydration in winter. Try using polyglutamic acid during the moisturizing steps of your routine; this helps sink in creamy products as PGA can act as a breathable occlusive. It’s great for stretching out your usage of more expensive products since PGA maximizes product hydration and can amp up effectiveness.

What can you pair polyglutamic acid with?

Super-compatible with your current routine, polyglutamic acid plays well with just about every product. Day or night, this excellent hydrator can boost the absorption and activity of some of your favorite actives, including vitamin C and exfoliants like lactic and glycolic acids

A famous pairing, polyglutamic acid and niacinamide, does just that, locking in moisture and enhancing skin elasticity. For intense moisture, pair PGA with hyaluronic acid for a killer deep-hydration combo that even prevents hyaluronic acid from breaking down.[10] Don’t miss out on the peptide’s healing effects; they are a game-changer when combined with polyglutamic acid. Finally, polyglutamic acid and retinol work wonders together to minimize retinol irritation and intensify that new skin glow.[11]

FAQ about polyglutamic acid for skin

  1. Is polyglutamic acid better than hyaluronic acid?

    While both polyglutamic acid and hyaluronic acid function as humectants and help seal hydration in the skin, polyglutamic acid is thought to hold five times more moisture than hyaluronic acid. However, that doesn't necessarily mean polyglutamic acid is better than hyaluronic acid, and there's no study to compare them directly. For the best results, use both ingredients together to boost hydration levels to the maximum.

  2. Can you use vitamin C with polyglutamic acid?

    Vitamin C and polyglutamic acid are one of the best pairs for plump, glowing, and smooth skin. In fact, polyglutamic acid is a great hydrating treatment to diminish the possible irritations caused by vitamin C.

  3. Can you use polyglutamic acid every day?

    Yes, polyglutamic acid gives the best results when used twice a day, in the morning and night routines.

  4. Does polyglutamic acid repair the skin barrier?

    Polyglutamic acid shields the barrier function by forming a protective layer on the outermost skin layer, preventing water loss.

  5. Is polyglutamic acid good for sensitive skin?

    Polyglutamic acid is a goodie for sensitive skin, thanks to its hydrating and restorative powers. However, as with any skincare ingredient, performing a patch is always wise before adding a new active to your routine.


  1. Ogunleye, Adetoro, et al. “Poly-γ-glutamic acid: production, properties, and applications.” Microbiology 161.1 (2015): 1-17.
  2. Kumar, S., Pandey, S., & Madhav, N. S. (2021). Biopolymer: A Novel Bioexcipient. In (Ed.), Biocomposites. IntechOpen. https://doi.org/10.5772/intechopen.97191
  3. Choi, Jae-Chul, et al. “Promotion effects of ultra-high molecular weight poly-γ-glutamic acid on wound healing.” Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 25.6 (2015): 941-945.
  4. Lee, Na-Ri et al. “In vitro evaluation of new functional properties of poly-γ-glutamic acid produced by Bacillus subtilis D7.” Saudi journal of biological sciences vol. 21,2 (2014): 153-8. doi:10.1016/j.sjbs.2013.09.004
  5. BEN-ZUR, Natalie. “γ-Poly glutamic acid: a novel peptide for skincare.” Cosmet. Toilet. 122.4 (2007): 65-74.
  6. Hasebe, K., and M. Inagaki. “Preparation composition for external use containing gamma-polyglutamic acid and vegetable extract in combination.” JP. Patent 11240827 (1999).
  7. Comparison table of the effectiveness of Y-PGA, HA, and Soluble collagen in cosmetic formulations, data provided by Meiji Seika, Japan (2003)
  8. Bae, Sun-Ryang, et al. “Effects of ultra-high molecular weight poly-gamma-glutamic acid from Bacillus subtilis on corneal wound healing.” Journal of microbiology and biotechnology.
  9. EWG Skin Deep® | POLYGLUTAMIC ACID. EWG, 2022.
  10. Bajaj, Ishwar, and Rekha Singhal. “Poly (glutamic acid)–an emerging biopolymer of commercial interest.” Bioresource technology 102.10 (2011): 5551-5561.
  11. DiNatale, Lisa, et al. “Novel Rotational Combination Regimen of Skin Topicals Improves Facial Photoaging: Efficacy Demonstrated in Double-Blinded Clinical Trials and Laboratory Validation.” Frontiers in Medicine 8 (2021).
Who wrote this?
Jordan Baker
Jordan Baker
Jordan Baker is a nationally certified pharmacy technician who's worked the last two years in retail pharmacy. Throughout her past, while studying microcopy and even field research in the Amazon, her passion for beauty has only grown! She may have been the only person wearing makeup in the rainforest, but it cemented her commitment to the beauty community. Her own troubled teenage years with cystic acne have put her on a mission to educate others towards a more holistic skincare journey. She now enjoys content writing with a scientific eye, bringing new insights on the latest products.
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Women's Concepts relies on the latest scientific research to provide accurate, complete, and fact-based information in skincare, on which we're willing to stake our reputation. Our team includes skincare experts who are highly regarded in their fields and committed to upholding the best standards of research. We spend quality time vetting every single product we recommend and double-checking all the facts shared on Women's Concepts. We always stand on the side of inclusivity, and our mission is to help everyone fix their skin issues as they arise and leverage the products they buy to achieve their goals. You can view our expert review board and everything about our editorial guidelines here.
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