by Alexandra Nicole Nuralam

Derm’s Ingredient Spotlight: Polyglutamic Acid

Calling all those with dry, dehydrated and ageing skin — this skincare ingredient will be your new best friend.

Hyaluronic acid (HA) has been dubbed the holy grail of hydrating skincare ingredients for both dry and ageing skin for some time now. A hydration powerhouse, the naturally occurring substance is a humectant, meaning it is used to reduce the loss of moisture, and it can hold up to 1,000 times its own weight in water.

There are tons of products on the market which contain the star ingredient but there may well be a new contender to knock it off the top spot: polyglutamic acid (PGA). 

What is polyglutamic acid?

Derived from fermented soybean (think of natto, Japanese fermented soybean), polyglutamic acid is a powerful hydrator for the skin’s surface. “Polyglutamic acid is actually four to five times more effective than hyaluronic acid,” explains Dr Teo Wan Lin, a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals.

“It works on two levels. Firstly, it prevents water loss to the skin’s micro-environment in the topmost layer of the skin,” says Dr Teo. “It also has the ability to block hyaluronidases, which are enzymes that causes the breakdown of the natural hyaluronic acid found in our skin as we age.”

PGA also helps diminish the appearance of pores, aids the skin’s natural exfoliation process, boosts elasticity (more so than topical collagen), and stimulates the skin’s natural moisturising processes.

How does it compare to hyaluronic acid?

What makes PGA different from HA is that it forms a film on the skin that stops moisture from evaporating, making it highly moisturizing. Of course, that doesn’t mean you should throw out all your HA serums in favour of PGA products; rather, you can use both in tandem.

By adding PGA into the mix, you’re hydrating and plumping the top layer of skin and creating a seal that ensures maximum hydration. In other words, they’re a match made in heaven for sensitive, dry, dehydrated and ageing skin.

How can I incorporate it into my skincare routine?

As PGA has a larger structure than HA, layering products in the right order is essential. Apply your HA serum first before using your PGA product to act as the protective sealant.

For on-the-go hydration, Dr Teo suggests keeping a PGA-loaded facial mist in your bag to give your skin a hydration boost throughout the day. “It will help to hydrate the skin and reduce transepidermal water loss, which is responsible for dehydration of the skin,” explains Dr Teo.

Also, PGA is safe and suitable for day and night use and works well with most skincare ingredients, so get ready for happy, hydrated skin.


The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid Serum, SGD22
Charlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir, SGD170
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Ultra-Fine Mist, SGD43