polyglutamic acid hyaluronic acid

Polyglutamic acid is 5 times more hydrating than hyaluronic acid – should you make the switch?

Celebrity facialist Ada Ooi breaks down the difference between the two powerful hydrators.

Skincare trends are nothing new, especially when it comes to TikTok. From moisture sandwiching to using glycolic acid for dandruff and dry heels, there’s always a novel way to treat our body’s largest organ. But some of these trends have more credence than others, rooted in real scientific knowledge. One such phenomenon is polyglutamic acid, which has seen an upswell in TikTok users shouting about the benefits of using it in their skincare routines – even going as far as to blend it with foundation and concealer.

More hydrating than hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid is a less well-known but just as powerful ingredient, credited with improving the elasticity, bounce and health of the skin and skin barrier. Here’s everything you need to know about the trending acid and whether it should be subbed in for your beloved hyaluronic acid serum. Read on.

What is polyglutamic acid?

“Polyglutamic acid is a humectant, meaning it attracts moisture and draws it into your skin, making it a powerful hydrating ingredient,” explains award-winning celebrity aesthetician and founder of 001 skincare Ada Ooi

Is polyglutamic acid more effective than hyaluronic acid?

“Similarly to hyaluronic acid, in that they’re both humectants, polyglutamic acid has the ability to hold a lot of moisture. But, rather than treat them as competitors, hyaluronic acid and polyglutamic acid actually work very well together – one is not a direct replacement for the other,” says Ooi.

So, beware of the viral TikTok videos proclaiming that we all ditch hyaluronic acid for good. Instead, experiment with what you find works for your skin and harness the power of using both together. 

“Any skin type can benefit from using polyglutamic acid but it’s especially effective if you’re suffering from dry, dull or dehydrated skin, as it’s a great moisturiser,” continues Ooi. “It helps to nourish the skin so that it feels smoother and looks more radiant. It also creates a great hydrating seal, improves elasticity, plumps the skin and treats signs of ageing. Because polyglutamic acid is a larger molecule than hyaluronic acid, it doesn’t sink as deeply into the skin. However, this isn’t a bad thing. As it sits on top of the surface of the skin, it locks moisture in, making the skin look dewy with a glass-like sheen.”

polyglutamic acid typology

Typology / £34.50

Plumping serum Polyglutamic acid 3% + red seaweed extract

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Charlotte Tilbury / £60

Charlotte’s Magic Serum Crystal Elixir

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The Inkey List / £14.49

Polyglutamic Acid Serum

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Skin Chemists London / £29.90

Youth Series Hydrating Serum 30ml Polyglutamic Acid 1%, Vitamin C 3%

How to use polyglutamic acid in your skincare routine

How consistent you are with your skincare routine will have a direct correlation with how efficacious your products are. Little and often is always best. Incorporating polyglutamic acid is no different – find a way to bring it into your routine in a way that feels sustainable and suitable for your skin. If you already feel overwhelmed with how many steps are in your routine, perhaps swap polyglutamic acid in for something else or find another area to streamline. 

Ooi explains more about when and how to do this. “As a large molecule, it’s best to use polyglutamic acid after applying your other serums because it sits on the surface of the skin and will help to lock in moisture. Cleanse, tone and apply any antioxidant serums, followed by a hyaluronic acid serum – then apply polyglutamic acid to seal everything in. Follow with a hydrating cream and an SPF if used during your morning routine,” advises Ooi.

“Because polyglutamic acid is a moisture magnet (similar to hyaluronic acid), it can work well to apply it to slightly damp skin, so that it draws moisture from the surface into the skin, rather than drawing moisture from the deeper layers of the skin to hydrate the skin’s surface.”

If all this acid talk has you scratching your head about the role they place in skincare, here’s a handy guide to layering your skincare properly and how to safely start using acids.

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Main image: TikTok / @sincerelymissash @ianskincare