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.
The fermentation process 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.
Whilst Sodium PCA and Hyaluronic acid are humectants, 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 thought to be 1.5 times more effective than Glycerin and twice as practical as Propylene glycol at drawing water to your skin.
7 Benefits of Sodium PCA
Those reasons alone explain why you should probably incorporate this essential ingredient into your skincare routine. Still, frankly, Sodium PCA’s beauty resumé is so long that we often don’t make it past the first page:
- a humectant
- a film former
- an important moisture booster
- a potent anti-inflammatory
- it has moisture-binding properties
- it has anti-ageing properties, plumping and smoothing
- it increases the permeability of certain ingredients
1. Very hydrating
Sodium PCA is very hygroscopic, which attracts moisture from the air, imparting a moist feeling to your hair and skin.
A naturally occurring component of human skin, sodium PCA forms about 12% of your skin’s natural moisturising factor (NMF), which consists of several components, including; Amino acids, Lactic acid, Lipids and Proteins.
Together with the naturally occurring lipids in your skin, the NMF components work to keep your skin’s surface healthy, supple, and hydrated,
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. Studies have demonstrated that cosmetic preparations containing at least 2% sodium PCA significantly improve dry skin conditions.
Your skin naturally contains 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 youthful, hydrated, and plump so it looks more youthful.
4. Barrier protecting
PCA is essential to your skin’s intracellular matrix, preventing your 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.
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 epidermis serves as the protective barrier.
This prevents moisture loss and reduces the effects of bacteria overgrowth and allergens. A technical topic we cover in this article.
5. Relieves eczema
This is a dermatologic condition characterised by inflammation within the skin tissues, resulting in erythema, irritation, and scaling.
A pilot study examining the role of anti‐inflammatories in alleviating the signs and symptoms of mild‐to‐moderate eczema found that when sodium PCA. was used in combination with other barrier-repairing ingredients, it significantly helped to improve irritation, inflammation, rough texture, erythema, desquamation, dryness, itching, and overall skin appearance after two weeks of continuous application.
Moreover, overall, 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, reducing inflammation and preventing surface irritation from becoming too serious.
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, sheen, and hair body.
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
There are a lot of Sodium PCA skincare benefits; it is a wonder ingredient for your skin; the benefits are endless.
It will restore an impaired barrier, prevent premature ageing, help to reduce inflammation within your skin’s tissues and relieve conditions such as eczema. It can even help moisturise your hair.
It is also non-comedogenic and non-irritating to the eyes and skin. Studies have found that even at concentrations of up to 50%, there is no evidence of sensitivity or toxicity that can be found.
If you have enjoyed reading about this fascinating humectant, join us tomorrow when we look at the benefits of Panthenol, another important humectant for your skin.
The best ingredients to use in skincare formulations: https://botaneri.com/the-best-humectants-to-use-in-natural-skincare/
Safety assessment of sodium PCA: https://www.cir-safety.org/sites/default/files/pca.pdf
Skincare formulations: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/307863658
What is sodium PCA: https://thedermreview.com/sodium-pca/
The final assessment of sodium PCA: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/pdf/10.1177/109158189901800206