We don’t like to get to technical here at The Naked Chemist
So we sure are glad, that the ingredient Sodium Pyroglutamic Acid, goes by the more common name of Sodium PCA.
What exactly is Sodium PCA?
Technically: It is the sodium salt of Pyroglutamic Acid, a naturally occuring amino acid known as Proline, that is found in proteins.
The potassium salts or sodium, is what makes the molecule water soluble, and an effective humectant.
Practically: It has a number of roles in the personal care industry, depending on where it is extracted from:
- The PCA that is extracted from vegetable and grasses, is often used for it’s emollient properties in moisturizers
- PCA that is extracted from coconut oil, is used for its emulsification properties
- Algae and seaweed contain moderate levels of PCA, which is often used for it’s water binding properties
How is Sodium PCA created?
It is a completely natural ingredient that is derived from plants, fruits and coconut oil.
A fermentation process of sugars and starches is used, in order to create PCA
Properties and Uses
Interestingly, this ingredient is one of the major components of our skins’ natural moisturizing factor (NMF), found at around 12%.
Both Sodium PCA and Urea which I discuss here, are ingredients that bind moisture to our skins cells.
Retains moisture: It is an important humectant, due to the fact that it is extremely water absorbent and can hold several times its weight in water, helping to reduce loss of moisture, through evaporation.
In cosmetic chemistry, it is thought of as a stronger hydrating agent than tradtional ingredients, such as Glycerine and Propylene Glycol.
Anti-ageing: Our skin naturally contains PCA, but as we age these levels drop quite considerably. Which is why we use it in our anti aging range.
Protecting: Previously we’ve talked about the role of the acid mantle and the inter-cellular glue that holds our skin cells together, which can be likened to the mortar that holds bricks together.
PCA is an important component of this intracellular matrix, preventing our skin cells from losing water and drying out.
When our skin has a good balance of NMFs and oils and fats (lipids), our skin is well lubricated, and has a smooth and healthy surface glow.
Reduces inflammation: PCA is a great ingredient for helping to protect this acid mantle.
It reduces inflammation in our skin, which it does by preventing surface irritation from becoming too serious, and penetrating deep into the epidermis (the outer layer of our skin).
- It is a clear almost syrupy liquid, that is soluble in water
- PCA is considered a low hazardous ingredient
- Studies have shown that even in concentrations up to 40%, no evidence of sensitivity or toxicity can be found
- Here at The Naked Chemist we use anywhere between 0.2 and 5 % in our skincare formulas
- We love the texture that sodium PCA gives to our products. It isn’t too sticky and doesn’t alter the viscosity of the products in any way
Join us here tomorrow, when we look at the benefits of Panthenol, another fantastic humectant.