Polyglutamic Acid



Polyglutamic Acid at a glance

  • Humectant that provides long-lasting hydration
  • Hydrating efficacy rivals (some studies show it surpasses) hyaluronic acid
  • Made via fermentation of glutamic acid with Bacillus subtilis.
  • May be animal-derived or synthetic

Polyglutamic Acid description

Polyglutamic acid is a water-soluble humectant capable of attracting and holding water within skin and on its surface. It’s a polymer of the amino acid glutamic acid that’s made via bacterial fermentation using various types of skin-friendly Bacillus, a gram-positive, rod-shaped bacteria. The resulting ingredient has been shown to rival hydrating results of hyaluronic acid; in fact, some studies indicate it surpasses hyaluronic acid, although it does not have that ingredient’s antioxidant or skin-soothing properties, nor is polyglutamic acid naturally found in skin. Although it’s not as well-rounded in the benefits-for-skin department as hyaluronic acid, polyglutamic acid remains a worthwhile ingredient. Just like hyaluronic acid, it’s available in various molecular weights, some capable of penetrating skin’s uppermost layers for multi-level hydration and prevention of water loss that leads to dehydration. Another aspect of polyglutamic acid that it shares with hyaluronic acid is that it forms what’s described as a hydrogel mesh network. This network expands to attract and hold water plus aid delivery of antioxidants (such as quercetin and ferulic acid) to skin that would otherwise prove difficult. Outside the cosmetics industry, polyglutamic acid has gained notoriety for it applications in other fields such as medicine, wastewater treatment, “bio-ink”, and foods. It has replaced or is being studied to replace various other ingredients that are not biodegradable, making polyglutamic acid an environmentally friendly option. Standard usage levels in cosmetics range from 0.05%–1%.

Polyglutamic Acid references

  • Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery, March 2021, ePublication
  • Molecules, July 2020, pages 1–33
  • Journal of Materials Science, Materials in Medicine, Volume 31, May 2020, ePublication
  • Journal of Biomedical Materials Research, November 2017, pages
  • Saudi Journal of Biological Sciences, April 2014, pages 153–158

Peer-reviewed, substantiated scientific research is used to assess ingredients in this dictionary. Regulations regarding constraints, permitted concentration levels and availability vary by country and region.

Ingredient ratings


Proven and supported by independent studies. Outstanding active ingredient for most skin types or concerns.


Necessary to improve a formula's texture, stability, or penetration.


Generally non-irritating but may have aesthetic, stability, or other issues that limit its usefulness.


There is a likelihood of irritation. Risk increases when combined with other problematic ingredients.


May cause irritation, inflammation, dryness, etc. May offer benefit in some capability but overall, proven to do more harm than good.


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Not Rated