Polyglutamic Acid Face Serum
The Inkey List’s Polyglutamic Acid Face Serum is a good way to add some extra hydration to your skin care route, but it’s not quite as impressive as the brand claims.
Packaged in an opaque bottle with a pump dispenser for enhanced stability (although none of the ingredients this contains are particularly vulnerable to light or air, this serum has a lightweight gel texture that absorbs quickly, so skin feels plumped and hydrated within seconds.
This fragrance-free serum’s star ingredient is polyglutamic acid, a polymer of an amino acid known as glutamic acid. It’s a peptide that helps skin retain moisture – some research shows it can even hold more moisture than famed skin-plumping superstar hyaluronic acid.
Polyglutamic acid is a good ingredient for helping restore dry and dehydrated skin, or to simply help plump fine lines and hydrate any skin type. It does not seem to have the antioxidant and soothing benefits of hyaluronic acid and its salt form, sodium hyaluronate, so comparisons between the two aren’t exactly apples to apples.
Going further, The Inkey List claims it contains a “3% polyglutamic acid complex”, but that’s not the same thing as a 3% concentration of pure polyglutamic acid. How do we know this doesn’t contain that much pure PGA? It’s because this ingredient appears after phenoxyethanol, a preservative that can only be used in a maximum concentration of 1% in cosmetics. The claim is a bit misleading, but PGA remains an effective, intriguing option to smooth and plump skin.
Aside from this, however, there’s not much else to this product. While there’s a good mix of skin-conditioning silicones and glycerin, for something labeled a “serum” it’s light on skin-beneficial ingredients.
- Lightweight gel texture.
- Leaves skin feeling plumped and hydrated.
- Polyglutamic acid is a good alternative to hyaluronic acid.
- Fragrance free.
- Formula would be more impressive with additional beneficial ingredients.
A powerful hydrator that holds four times more moisture than hyaluronic acid to smooth and reduce the appearance of fine lines. 3% polyglutamic acid complex, a natural high molecular weight amino acid polymer specifically designed to enhance skin hydration.
The Inkey List is the creation of Colette Newberry and Mark Curry, respectively the former branding and product developers of the widespread UK-based drugstore chain Boots, which has its own namesake skin care line. As with a number of up-and-coming “indie” brands, the media coverage centers on their inexpensive products with minimalist formulas that tend to focus on a single star ingredient, such as hyaluronic acid, squalane, or retinol.
If you’re wondering about the inspiration for the name, it’s the pronunciation of the acronym “INCI,” which stands for the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients, an agreed-upon, regulated list of how cosmetics ingredients should be identified on product labels. Each product has its chief ingredient listed on the packaging with dictionary-style writing underneath showing how the name is phoneticized, a clever and slightly erudite touch.
Though the formulas are somewhat basic, The Inkey List gets its packaging spot-on – all products are in opaque containers, with no jars or clear containers to be found. Fragrance isn’t on this brand’s radar, either--at least not in terms of adding it to their products (which will make your skin very happy).
We’d like to see more complex formulas, but then again such formulas cost more to make, and The Inkey List is mostly a bargain brand. We wrote “mostly” because in some cases, on an ounce-per-ounce basis, The Inkey List costs just as much as some other brands offering the same type of products (like leave-on exfoliants) in larger sizes.
Even with the predominantly one-note ingredient theme, the brand typically includes beneficial ingredients in efficacious amounts and skips irritants, with the exception of a couple a products that contain witch hazel water and drying denatured alcohol.
That aside, the brand offers a good selection of effective products, something we’re always glad to see. The Inkey List is sold exclusively in the U.S. at Sephora; you can learn more about the brand here: https://www.sephora.com/brand/the-inkey-list.
About the Experts
The Beautypedia team consists of skin care and makeup experts personally trained by the original Cosmetics Cop and best-selling beauty author, Paula Begoun. We’re fascinated by skin care and makeup products and thrilled when they meet or exceed our expectations, but we’re also disappointed when they fail to perform as claimed, are wildly overpriced, or contain ingredients scientific research has proven can hurt skin.
Our mission has always been to help you find the best products for your skin, no matter your budget or preferences. Beautypedia’s thorough and insightful reviews cut through the hype and provide reliable recommendations for all ages, skin types, and skin tones.