It’s a mouthful, but polyglutamic acid is on the tip of everyone’s tongue on social media. A buzzy new ingredient used to hydrate, PGA is quickly making a name for itself as a supped-up version of hyaluronic acid, or HA, which can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. PGA is not only making its way to the top of the ingredient list of many new serums; the ultra-hydrator is also making a name for itself in the makeup community on TikTok as being the secret to achieving a healthy, glass skin look with foundation.
What is polyglutamic acid?
“Polyglutamic acid is a biopolymer discovered in jellyfish that prevents tissue dehydration in salt water,” explains cosmetic chemist Krupa Koestline. “PGA used in cosmetics today is made using fermentation.”
Just like HA, the PGA is a water magnet, which means its primary purpose is to hydrate and plump. “It is a safe, natural, biodegradable biopolymer obtained via fermentation of glutamic acid,” adds cosmetic chemist Ginger King. “It has the ability to absorb water of its own weight 5,000 times to increase moisture as opposed to hyaluronic acid which holds 1,000 times its weight.”
How does it benefit your skin?
Krupa says those with super-dry, crepey, parched skin could use the added boost PGA gives, especially during the winter months. “Its main function in cosmetic formulas is to act as a humectant and help in production of natural moisturizing factors intrinsically. It helps provide immediate as well as long-term moisturizing effects. PGA has been proven to be a better moisturizer than that of hyaluronic acid and collagen protein as it restores skin elasticity and smooths skin wrinkles.”
How does it boost your foundation?
As far as foundations are concerned, a little goes a long way, and in most TikTok tutorials the serum added is mixed in directly into the foundation and not layered underneath. “It can be mixed in to improve skin hydration over time and address dryness,” Krupa adds. While those with combination skin or oiliness may want to skip it, she notes, it is suitable for all skin types.
Who should try it?
While the polyglutamic acid and foundation trend is making its way through the app, King says it might not be for everyone. “Obviously, this is great for those with dry skin, but there is no harm for people with normal or oily skin. Polyglutamic acid also gives a more glass skin appearance, so anyone with oily skin may not want to look like glazed donuts.”
Ones to Try
Try these PGA based serums and mix in with your own foundation, but King says to be sure to use water-based foundations for best results: The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Hydrating Serum ($14) has gotten high marks, as well as Charlotte Tilbury Magic Serum Crystal Elixir ($80), Typology Plumping Serum Polyglutamic Acid 3% + Red Seaweed Extract ($43) and Dermalogica’s Circular Hydration Serum ($59), which uses polyglutamic acid from fermented Soy to help restore the skin’s hydration reserves.
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