sodium pca -

INCI: Sodium PCA (sodium L-pyroglutamate)

Sodium PCA is a humectant and light conditioning agent for hair and skin derived from amino acids. It is highly hygroscopic (absorbs moisture from the surrounding air) and is used in everything from gels to lipsticks. It’s found in some of the better –sometimes more expensive– conditioners, lotions, cleansers and moisturizers on the market.

Sodium PCA holds several times it’s weight making it better at hydrating than glycerin, according to It is also said to reduce “static electricity”, which usually means it helps in the process of fighting frizz.


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The version of Sodium PCA I use is in liquid form making it a lot easier to use in your DIY products. I usually add it right to the water and before other ingredients. It mixes with no problem.

For skin, it’s a “skin-penetration enhancer” which means it increases the penetration properties of the product, making it easier to get to the deeper layers of the skin.

Possible Incompatibilities?

Don’t use Sodium PCA will the following ingredients. (This is not an exhaustive list):

  • Gelmaker STYLE (INCI: Acrylates C10-30 alkyl methacrylate copolymer)
  • ICE Sunflower/Jeesperse CPW-S (INCI: Sunflower wax, sodium polyacrylate)
  • PolyMulse Polymeric Emulsifier (INCI: Acrylates/C10-30 Alkyl Acrylate Crosspolymer)
  • Sepimax Zen/Gelmaker pH (INCI: Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6)
  • Sepiplus 400 (INCI: Polyacrylate-13 (and) Polyisobutene (and) Polysorbate 20)
  • Sepinov EMT 10 (INCI: Hydroxyethyl Acrylate / Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer)
  • Or any of the “…acryl______” polymers

Usage rate for Sodium PCA is anywhere from 1-10% depending on where you buy it. At, the usage rate is 1-10%. However, at, the usage rate is 0.2-4%. So pay attention to the recommendations of the supplier from where you bought it.

Sodium PCA is added to the WATER PHASE of your diy recipe. Thus, if you want to make an oil mix, don’t use it to give it any type of softness or hydrating effect. It’s water-soluble, not oil-soluble and will probably separate or make the mix feel…weird. 😛

It takes a small amount of this ingredient to be effective, so don’t just squirt it in your palms and rub it all over the hair/skin! Don’t use it straight out of the bottle, like glycerin.

Like I mentioned before, it’s found in everything including gels, toners, shampoos, conditioners, lipsticks, foundations, lotions, thick creams.

It’s found in everything from Carol’s Daughter and KeraCare hair products, to Sampar and Arcona which are high-end skincare lines. It’s the main ingredient in a line of products from PCA Skin.

So check out Sodium PCA if you get a chance and you want to try something other than glycerin (or can’t find beet sugar extract).

Related Sodium PCA

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3 Responses

  1. So I use Sodium PCA straight out of the bottle when I get out of the shower on my wet skin. You indicate not to use it straight out of the bottle. Why? Is it dangerous? Does it cause skin issues? I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

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