Sodium PCA



Sodium PCA at a glance

  • Is related to amino acids and occurs naturally in skin
  • Helps skin’s upper layers draw in and retain moisture
  • Is a staple ingredient in many moisturising products
  • Considered safe as used in cosmetic

Sodium PCA description

Sodium PCA is the sodium salt of PCA (pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, a natural amino acid derivative). Sodium PCA occurs in skin is part of skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF). As such, it and can also be found in both plant and animal tissue. Paula’s Choice Skincare does not use animal-derived sodium PCA. Its value comes from its function as a humectant, meaning it helps skin’s upper layers both draw in and retain moisture, resulting in a more supple, youthful appearance. Because of these abilities it’s a staple ingredient in many moisturisers, where it provides hydration without being thick or occlusive. It’s considered safe and non-irritating as used in skin care products, where concentrations typically range from 0.2–4%. It is sensitive to both light and heat, meaning products containing it should be packaged in opaque and air-restrictive containers.

Sodium PCA references

  • International Journal of Toxicology, September 2019, ePublication
  • Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, April 2018, pages 138-144
  • IFSCC Conference 2005 Research Paper
  • Bio-Medical Materials and Engineering, 1995, pages 9-20

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

We have not yet rated this ingredient because we have not had a chance to review the research on it.