Want a smoother texture? Then try sodium PCA.
Or perhaps it’s more moisturisation you are after?
Then Sodium PCA has you covered.
Or maybe it’s a cooling, quenching overnight treat to plump and restore your skin?
Yep, you guessed it, try sodium PCA.
If you want to rehydrate dry or mature skin, sodium PCA is all the way, baby.
A streamlined skincare routine is about substitution, where one product will do the job of several.
And there is no better electrolyte cocktail for your skin than sodium PCA.
What is Sodium PCA?
Technically, It is the sodium salt of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid, a naturally-occurring amino acid known as Proline found in proteins.
It’s a tricky little number that often falls under many guises, including; monosodium salt, sodium pyroglutamate or monosodium salt DL-proline.
Whilst some of the sodium PCA used in skincare is synthetically created, it is primarily a natural ingredient derived from plants, fruits, and coconut oil.
Fermentation involves using sugars and starches to create a plant-derived ingredient form.
Here at the Naked Chemist, we use sodium PCA derived from the fermentation of soybeans in our formulas, such as Quench ultra-hydrating water gel.
It has several roles in the personal care industry, depending on where it is extracted from:
- the Sodium PCA that is extracted from vegetables and grasses is often used for its emollient properties in moisturisers
- the Sodium 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 its water-binding properties
Sodium PCA Versus Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is often used as an ingredient in many formulations due to its ability to pull moisture into skin tissues and lock it there.
Sodium PCA in skin care works similarly; sodium salt makes the molecule water-soluble and an effective humectant, drawing water from the atmosphere to your skin and hair to offer hydration.
Sodium PCA and Hyaluronic acid are humectants, but the main difference is how well they can produce this effect.
Sodium PCA can hold up to roughly 250 times its weight in water, while Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1000 times its weight.
For this reason, you will often find these two ingredients used in combination with each other to improve the moisture-retaining properties of a formula.
Sodium PCA is 1.5 times more effective than Glycerin at drawing water to your skin.
7 Benefits of Sodium PCA
Those reasons alone explain why you shouldn’t think twice about incorporating this essential ingredient into your skincare routine to give your skin that added humectant boost.
Especially when you consider all of sodium PCA’s beauty benefits, its resumé is so long that it’s hard to make it past the first page:
- a humectant
- a film former
- an important moisture booster
- a potent anti-inflammatory
- has important moisture-binding properties
- anti-ageing properties, it plumps, hydrates and smoothes
- sodium PCA also increases the permeability of certain ingredients into your skin
1. Very hydrating
Sodium PCA is hygroscopic, which attracts water from the air, imparting a moist feeling to your hair and skin.
A naturally occurring component of your skin, it makes up roughly 12% of the natural moisturising factor (NMF), which consists of several components, including; Amino acids, Lactic acid, Lipids and Proteins.
Together with the lipids that are naturally present in your skin, the NMF components work to keep your skin’s surface healthy, supple, and hydrated,
And we know this skin-friendly humectant can effectively pass through your skin’s outer protective layer, meaning you get good results with low concentrations at 1 to 2.5 per cent in skincare.
2. Extremely moisturising
It acts as a moisture magnet. This study (1) found that cosmetic preparations containing at least 2% sodium PCA significantly improved the participant’s dry and dehydrated skin conditions.
Your skin naturally contains sodium PCA, but these levels drop significantly as you age.
Because it is incredibly water-absorbing and can hold several times its weight in water, it can reduce moisture loss through evaporation, keeping your skin hydrated and plump, so it looks more youthful.
4. Barrier protecting
Sodium PCA is essential to your skin’s intracellular matrix, preventing skin cells from losing water and drying out whilst protecting your all-important barrier function.
It helps rebuild the intercellular glue that holds your skin cells together, which can be likened to the mortar that holds bricks together.
Sodium PCA is created by breaking down the protein filaggrin within corneocytes, the dead skin cells that make up the outermost layer of your skin.
This prevents moisture loss and reduces the effects of bacteria overgrowth and allergens, a topic discussed in this article.
5. Relieves eczema
This dermatologic condition is characterised by inflammation within your skin tissues, resulting in erythema, irritation, and scaling.
This pilot study (2) examined the role of anti‐inflammatories in alleviating the signs and symptoms of mild‐to‐moderate eczema and found that when sodium PCA. was used in combination with other barrier-repairing ingredients, it significantly helped to improve inflammation, rough texture, dryness, itching, and the overall appearance of participants skin after just two weeks of continuous application.
Moreover, there was a 79% reduction in itching, and skin hydration increased by 44%.
6. It reduces inflammation
Sodium PCA is an excellent ingredient for helping to protect the delicate microflora that makes up your acid mantle, helping to reduce inflammation and prevent surface irritation.
7. An effective hair treatment
Sodium PCA is often used in hair care products. It is known in the industry to enhance the appearance and feel of hair by increasing suppleness and sheen.
It is also thought to improve the appearance of hair that has been damaged physically or by drying chemical treatments.
To conclude. The naked truth
As you can see, there are many Sodium PCA skincare benefits; it is a wonder ingredient for your skin.
It will restore an impaired barrier, prevent premature ageing, help to reduce inflammation and relieve conditions such as eczema. It can even help moisturise your hair.
It is non-comedogenic and non-irritating to your eyes and skin.
This study found (3) found that even at concentrations of 50%, there was no evidence of sensitivity or toxicity.
If you have enjoyed reading about this fascinating humectant, Panthenol, another important humectant for your skin.
- Pyrrolidone carboxylic acid and the skin
- A pilot study investigating the efficacy of botanical anti-inflammatory agents in an OTC eczema therapy
- Safety Assessment for PCA and Sodium PCA