In the skincare industry’s current top 40, one ingredient reigns supreme — hyaluronic acid. It’s a multitasking powerhouse of an ingredient you can find in any and every type of skincare product thanks to its multitude of benefits, like replenishing and retaining moisture, which helps reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, keeping the skin looking supple and smooth. But there is an under the radar anti-aging ingredient that a dermatologist refers to as a “close cousin” to HA — polyglutamic acid (PGA).
Put simply, “PGA keeps skin super dewy, hydrated and maintains the bounce or sponge-like quality of younger skin,” Dr. Ava Shamban, MD, cosmetic dermatologist says. Like HA, it’s a humectant but according to Dr. Shamban, “can hold 4,000 times its weight in water — 10 times more moisture than hyaluronic acid.”
PGA has a relatively larger molecular size, which essentially means that it is useful for surface level, and not penetrative, hydration. Polyglutamic acid and hyaluronic acid, however, are not mutually exclusive ingredients in formulas. They are often used together because of their slightly differing properties, according to Dr. Shamban.
But the lesser-known PGA does have some specific advantages. First, PGA is an instant gratification ingredient. Dr. Shamban tells InStyle that it is more effective in diminishing the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles, and the appearance of pores. The acid’s efficient hydration plumps the upper layers of your complexion, creating a quick-acting glass skin effect.
And while it doesn’t penetrate the deep layers of the skin, it does prevent hyaluronidase — an enzyme responsible for breaking down the hyaluronic acid in your skin thereby accelerating aging. This is what makes it a great booster for HA skincare products.
To quickly summarize all of the science just thrown at you — PGA instantly plumps and hydrates your epidermis for a glass skin effect while also preventing the breakdown of pre-existing hyaluronic acid. It’s a one-two punch that makes for a great anti-aging ingredient. If your interest is piqued, check out the products below.
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Serum
Part of Charlotte Tilbury’s beloved Magic line, this serum combines PGA and vitamin C for an instantly plump and vibrant complexion.
Decorté Liposome Eye Cream
This eye cream instantly plumps and awakens your face thanks to the long lasting hydration effects of polyglutamic acid.
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist
Glow Recipe’s Watermelon Mist is actually one of Dr. Shamban’s PGA-infused products. “It combines both hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid for a throughout-the-day refresher to hydrate skin.”
The Inkey List 3% Polyglutamic Acid
A budget-conscious choice that’s perfect for dipping your toes in the hydrating waters of PGA, Dr. Shamban recommends this straightforward Inkey List serum.
Then I Met You The Giving Essence
Before you begin your skincare routine, start with this polyglutamic acid and red algae formulated essence. The combination of the two gently exfoliates dead, pore-clogging cells while hydrating the skin, creating an ideal canvas for the rest of your products.
Omorovicza Midnight Renewal Serum
Another Dr. Shamban recommendation, she says this Hungarian product is specifically for “more mature skin” thanks to ingredients such as retinol and oat lipid microalgae — the latter being protective against stress and optimizing the skin for overnight repair.