Everything you need to know about polyglutamic acid, the peptide that holds even more moisture than hyaluronic

Get ready to see a lot more of it.

Get ready to see a lot more of it

While we can't imagine ever parting with our hyaluronic acid serums and creams, every now and then, a new, buzzy ingredient will come along to remind us that perhaps HA isn't the be-all and end-all of skin hydrators. Case in point: polyglutamic acid (PGA), a water-soluble peptide that's quickly shaking up the beauty industry. Research on naturally occurring poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA) — a molecule found in the bacteria of fermented soybeans — suggests it has the ability to hold more moisture than hyaluronic acid. Like four to five times more.

"Polyglutamic acid is an excellent humectant, similar to hyaluronic acid," says Dr. Monica Li, a dermatologist and clinical instructor in the department of dermatology and skin science at the University of British Columbia. "In the lab, polyglutamic acid, as a gel, has been found to be able to absorb moisture up to 5,000 times its own weight," says Dr. Li. "But the actual water amount retained depends on the acidity, or pH, and salt content of the gel." By comparison, hyaluronic acid holds up to 1,000 times its weight in water.

However, Dr. Li suggests that the two ingredients need not be seen as competitors. In fact, when used together, they could actually end up being the ultimate recipe for hydrated skin. "Polyglutamic acid may inhibit hyaluronidase, which breaks down hyaluronic acid," explains Dr. Li. PGA also essentially creates a seal that keeps moisture from escaping. It could be quite "complementary to hyaluronic acid, which is found in the deeper skin layers," says Dr. Li.

While hyaluronic acid works within the skin to increase moisture levels deep down, polyglutamic acid can actually increase the production of natural moisturizing factors on the skin's surface to improve hydration, too, she adds. "It has also been shown to help maintain elasticity of the skin."

It has the potential to be a major game-changer when it comes to hydrating, plumping skincare. Below are some products that contain polyglutamic acid.

The combination of vitamin E and polyglutamic acid makes this serum great for rough, ultra dry skin that needs to be brought back to life.

It's Skin Power 10 Effector Serum, $20,

The new-to-Canada U.K. brand is being compared to The Ordinary, thanks to its no nonsense, low-cost products, including this polyglutamic acid–infused formula that's quickly gaining a cult following for its hydrating ability.

The Inkey List Polyglutamic Acid, approx. $14.99, (as of May 1)

Along with PGA, this moisturizer-serum hybrid also features hyaluronic acid for a double dose of hydration that's designed to leave skin looking visibly plumper and smoother.

Kate Somerville Wrinkle Warrior 2-in-1 Plumping Moisturizer + Serum, $114,