Nature has gifted us with a wide range of beneficial skincare ingredients. Sodium PCA is one of them. A hydrating as well as a skin-replenishing ingredient, this can help your skin and hair in multiple ways.
So, if you are looking for a natural ingredient that can work wonders, then Sodium PCA could be your answer. Read on to know about the many advantages Sodium PCA offers.
What Is Sodium PCA?
Sodium PCA  is a natural hydrating agent derived from oils, plants and fruits. It is the sodium salt version of pyrrolidone carboxylic acid (PCA), also known as pyroglutamic acid. It is also popularly known as amino acid proline, which forms the base of all proteins. The salt form of the molecules of sodium PCA make it water-soluble.
Sodium PCA is a humectant that naturally occurs in the skin. It is also used in a variety of skincare and haircare products. Humectants maintain and secure moisture into your skin. They attract water droplets from the surrounding air and lock them into the upper layer of your skin, giving it a moisturized appearance.
While Sodium PCA is a naturally derived ingredient, it can also be created synthetically. Also, the usage of Sodium PCA may vary, depending upon the source of extraction.
What Are The Benefits of Sodium PCA?
1. Humectant Properties
Its hygroscopic nature allows it to attract moisture from surrounding air and retain the moisture of your hair and skin. Sodium PCA also adds up to your natural moisturizing factor (NMF) that consists of components like lactic acid, sugar, amino acids and protein. These naturally found lipids, maintain the health and hydration of your skin. Your skin appears supple and hydrated, due to the healthy epidermis.
Skincare products contain Sodium PCA at a really low concentration of 1 to 2.5%. It can effectively enter the topmost layer of your skin and pass the benefits to the inner layers. Studies  demonstrated that 2% of Sodium PCA in your skincare product can notably reduce the dryness of your skin.
2. Anti-ageing Quality
The natural level of Sodium PCA in your skin decreases with age. Skincare products containing Sodium PCA can replenish the lost amounts. Being very water-absorbent, it absorbs water from the environment and while showering. It then locks it inside your skin, making it look hydrated, plump and youthful.
3. Protects Skin Barrier
Sodium PCA is a crucial ingredient in performing the tasks of your skin’s intracellular region. It prevents your skin cells from losing water and thereby protects the barrier function of your skin. Sodium PCA helps form the intercellular lipids that hold your cells together and keep them interlinked.
It keeps the outermost layer of your skin healthy. Sodium PCA prevents moisture loss and reduces the risk of bacteria and allergen attack.
4. Treats Eczema
Eczema is a skin condition identified by inflammation, irritation and scaling of the skin. A pilot study examined the role of anti‐inflammatories for mild to severe eczema. It concluded that Sodium PCA combined with other barrier protective components shows effective results.
It helped reduce symptoms of eczema such as inflammation, roughness, and itching. It also improved the overall appearance of skin. After 2 weeks of regular usage, it reduced the symptoms by 79% and increased hydration level by 44%.
5. Controls Inflammation
Sodium PCA works well on skin inflammation. It protects the delicate microflora which is a community bacteria residing inside your body. When your body is exposed to any pathogen and toxin, the first defence system is provided by microflora. It drives our immune system, and specifically helps in preventing and controlling inflammation.
6. Hair Care
Sodium PCA is also used in hair care products. It makes your hair supple and smooth. It reduces the chances of hair damage and controls hair fall by hydrating your scalp. In case, your hair has become dry due to chemical treatment, Sodium PCA containing hair care products can help.
How To Use Sodium PCA?
Sodium PCA primarily works as a moisturizing element for your skin. Therefore, it is used in many skincare and haircare products such as serum, gels, creams, lotions and shampoo.
Many makeup brands also use Sodium PCA in their lipsticks and foundations. It is usually used in the 0.2 - 40 % concentration range. Follow the instructions on the label of the product for any particular note for the usage.
Sodium PCA Vs Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid  is a key ingredient for many skin care formulations because of its moisture-attracting ability into the skin. Sodium PCA also shares the same characteristics of hyaluronic acid and improves the appearance of dehydrated, dull skin. The salt of PCA makes the molecule water-soluble so that it can work as an effective humectant for your skin.
Both Sodium PCA and hyaluronic acid are humectants. The only difference between the two is the quality of the function. While hyaluronic acid holds up to 100 times its weight in water, sodium PCA can hold 25O times of its weight. This is the main reason many skincare brands use both ingredients for the formulation to improve the moisture-retaining capability of the product.
Sodium PCA is also considered to be at least 1.5 times more potent than glycerin and twice as powerful as propylene glycol.
Side Effects & Risks Of Sodium PCA
The expert panel of EWG (Environmental Working Group) assessed the safety of Sodium PCA and it scored 1 out of 10 due to the lowest risk factor. According to EWG, the risk of cancer, reproductive toxicity and immunotoxicity from Sodium PCA are none. 
Another assessment of Sodium PCA by cosmetic experts declared Sodium PCA as a safe ingredient to use in skincare products. After running clinical tests, they concluded that it is a non-sensitizing ingredient and does not cause irritation to your skin.
However, despite being extremely friendly to the skin, Sodium PCA should not be used in products that also contain nitrosating agents. In the presence of nitrosating chemicals and light or heat, Sodium PCA tends to break down and may create carcinogenic nitrosamines. Apart from this, there are no complaints about the side effects of Sodium PCA.
Sodium PCA serves a variety of purposes and provides an ample number of benefits. It does not cause irritation or harmful effects on your skin. Though this is a true wonder ingredient from nature, you should still consider whether it will suit your skin or not. Assess your skin type and opt for a customized skincare regimen that is tailored to your skin requirement.
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