Move Over, Hyaluronic Acid! Polyglutamic Acid Is the New Hydrating Hero in Town

Meet the power ingredient that changes the way your skin hydrates itself.

<p>Delmaine Donson/Getty Images</p>

Delmaine Donson/Getty Images

Any skincare enthusiast can tell you that hyaluronic acid is known as the hydrating hero ingredient. The moisturizing and plumping properties work on a cellular level, replenishing cells with moisture and helping them retain it as time goes on.

While we love and hold our hyaluronic acid serums close to our hearts, there seems to be a new hydrating skincare ingredient catching our intention. Enter: polyglutamic acid. It occurs naturally within our bodies, softens skin, and is said to be four(!) times as hydrating as hyaluronic acid. Do we have your attention yet?

What is polyglutamic acid?

This ultra-sciency ingredient will sound complex (because it is) but experts say the benefits—soft, supple skin—are straightforward. “Polyglutamic acid is an amino acid biopolymer that is found in natto, a sticky Japanese dish made from fermented soybeans,” says Cara Bondi, cosmetic chemist working with brands like Tata Harper Skincare, Ursa Major, and Sol De Janeiro.

“With regards to skincare, polyglutamic acid acts as a humectant, helping to keep skin hydrated and maintain skin’s barrier,” says Kim Nichols, MD, board-certified dermatologist in New York City. But it doesn’t just keep your skin hydrated for long periods of time. It also smooths the appearance of wrinkles, increases moisture retention, softens skin, and evens skin tone.

Who can benefit from polyglutamic acid?

Everyone can benefit from extra hydration and a smooth complexion. But if you’re struggling with dry or dehydrated skin, this ingredient is even more essential within your routine. “Working as a humectant, a polyglutamic serum will seal in moisture leaving your skin plump and hydrated,” says Dr. Nichols.

Polyglutamic Acid vs. Hyaluronic Acid

While they’re both effective hydrators, polyglutamic acid has better performance and additional benefits to moisturize that hyaluronic acid does not have.

“Depending on the source, polyglutamic acid holds 4,000-5,000 times its weight in water. Hyaluronic acid is usually cited as 1,000 times its weight in water,” says Bondi.

Bondi explains that polyglutamic acid actually re-engineers skin’s self moisturization abilities by increasing your “natural moisturizing factor,” a naturally occurring complex of molecules that works to increase and maintain moisture within your skin.

That being said, in addition to it being a stronger ingredient, it’s also more expensive as it is more difficult to source. (According to derms, that’s one of the big reasons we don’t hear a ton of buzz about the ingredient.) Serums and moisturizers that contain polyglutamic acid are generally a bit pricier than those with hyaluronic acid.

What ingredients does polyglutamic acid pair well with?

Basically anything! There’s no need to worry about separating exfoliants or retinol products when using polyglutamic acid. “Polyglutamic acid can be paired with almost any ingredient. If you’re someone who struggles with dry skin, patchy skin, polyglutamic acid and hyaluronic acid can save the day. When used together, both active ingredients deliver twice as much hydration, each working together to penetrate and lock in moisture. For further recommendations, it is always best to consult your board-certified dermatologist,” says Dr. Nichols.

Best Serums with Polyglutamic Acid

Want to get in on the hydration action? Shop our expert-approved picks below.

Cult Favorite: Face Gym Hydro-Bound Daily Serum

Best for Sensitive Skin: Typology Plumping Serum with 3% Polyglutamic Acid + Red Seaweed Extract

Best Budget Pick: The INKEY List Polyglutamic Acid Serum

Best Splurge: Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir

Best Quick Hydrator: Futurewise Slug Boost Hydrating Mist

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