COLLAGEN, HYALURONIC acid, lactic acid—it seems like every natural, or semi-natural, acidic substance is being used as an active in skincare. Not only are these ingredients popular for their ability to boost hydration and help improve the appearance of wrinkles and skin texture, but their low pH also makes them fantastic for locking in moisture. However, not all acidic substances are created equal. Some have a higher acidity than others; some work better for specific skin types; and some have other properties which make them stand out from the others. In this article we take a closer look at one such active: Polyglutamic acid.
What is Polyglutamic Acid?
First, let’s define what polyglutamic acid is. Polyglutamic acid is a water –soluble long chains of amino acid glutamic acid, one of the most abundant amino acids in the human body, which can be found in fermented soybeans. The exact mechanism for how and why it works for skin is still under investigation, but it’s a great humectant that works by increasing the movement of water and nutrients into the skin, while also helping to retain water and slowing down the rate at which it leaves again. For this reason, it’s often used in skincare products designed for those with dry and dehydrated skin. It’s also found in a lot of anti-aging products to help reduce wrinkles and prevent further damage to the skin caused by environmental factors like UV light and pollution.
Why is a Low pH Good for Skin?
Not all skincare products are created equal. In fact, there are some that are more acidic than others. In this case, an acidic product, which has a low pH, is a good thing because it will help to balance the skin’s pH levels. When the skin is at the correct pH level, it’s in a state of homeostasis; when it’s imbalanced and too alkaline, it leads to dry skin, acne and inflammation; and when it’s too acidic, it can lead to things like irritation and breakouts. The most common skincare products that have a low pH are cleansers, toners, and some exfoliating products like peels. But not all acids are created equal—some are more acidic than others.
Why is Polyglutamic Acid Good for Dry Skin?
For people with dry skin, the goal is to hydrate the skin and avoid it becoming too dry in the first place. For this reason, many skincare products designed for dry skin will contain hyaluronic acid, which is known for its ability to hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. However, like many other acidic substances, polyglutamic acid also has hydrating properties. It allows water to enter the skin cells and holds it there. At the same time, it helps to slow the rate at which water leaves the skin by forming a barrier between the skin cells and the outside environment. This helps to create a protective layer on the skin and lock in moisture for longer, which is ideal for those with dry skin.
Why is Polyglutamic Acid Good for Oily Skin?
Although a higher pH can be considered good for the skin, the fact that polyglutamic acid has a lower pH means that it can be even more effective at treating oily and acne-prone skin. When applied to oily skin, polyglutamic acid helps to regulate the production of sebum—aka oil—which is often the cause of oily skin. It also acts as a natural anti-bacterial agent, which is useful for acne-prone skin that is susceptible to breakouts. And, as we’ve already touched on with the skin hydration and water barrier benefits, polyglutamic acid can also help to hydrate the skin and lock in moisture, which can be beneficial to people with oily skin who may not produce enough natural sebum.
While collagen is the most buzzworthy skincare ingredient right now, polyglutamic acid is an excellent alternative for those who want a gentler skincare routine—or those who want to take advantage of the benefits it offers. Because it is naturally-derived, gluten-free, has a low pH level, and offers a host of benefits for a wide range of skin types, polyglutamic acid is a great inclusion in skincare products to boost hydration, maintain a healthy pH level, and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and other signs of aging.