acetyl glucosamine

Acetyl Glucosamine at a Glance

  • Multi-purpose antioxidant that plays a role in fading skin discolourations
  • Also known to offer skin-calming properties
  • A precursor of hyaluronic acid (meaning it helps skin make its own HA naturally)
  • The derivative form (known as n-acetyl glucosamine) is considered more stable and effective
  • Can be produced synthetically to be vegan vs. pure acetyl glucosamine is typically derived from shellfish

Acetyl Glucosamine Description

Acetyl glucosamine is a multi-purpose antioxidant that has been shown to be effective in reducing visible discolourations (specifically in 2-5% concentration). It works particularly well for evening skin tone when paired with the B vitamin niacinamide. It can also help reinforce skin’s supportive elements and is known to be soothing.

One of the uniquely beneficial aspects of acetyl glucosamine is that it is a precursor of hyaluronic acid (meaning it helps skin produce its own hyaluronic acid content naturally). Hyaluronic acid is a fundamental component responsible for helping skin maintain hydration and elasticity.

Technically speaking, acetyl glucosamine is an amino-monosaccharide (simple sugar). Although pure acetyl glucosamine is considered more sensitive to stability issues, research shows a synthetic or bio-fermented derivative known as n-acetyl glucosamine has been proven to be more stable and highly effective. This is the type you’ll find in the Paula’s Choice Skincare 10% and 20% niacinamide treatments and RESIST eye cream. This form is also vegan (whereas pure acetyl glucosamine is typically derived from shellfish).

FYI: Following the correct INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) naming conventions n-acetyl glucosamine simply goes by acetyl glucosamine on ingredient lists, but you can always consult the brand to find out which form they are using.

At the time of this writing, the current assessment of acetyl glucosamine by the Cosmetic Ingredient Review is underway with the next meeting with their panel of experts set for September 2021. We will be updating the information as it comes, but preliminary data has shown concentrations as high as 8% acetyl glucosamine can be used in leave-on products without issue.

Acetyl Glucosamine References

Cosmetic Ingredient Review, February 2021, pages 1-22
International Journal of Pharmaceutics, March 2020, pages 1–10
Life Sciences, May 2016, pages 21-29
Drug Design, Development and Therapy, August 2014, pages 1,923–1,928
Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology, June 2013, pages 96-102; and December 2006, pages 309-315
Dermato-endocrinology, July 2012, pages 253–258

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10% Niacinamide Booster

CLINICAL Niacinamide 20% Treatment

RESIST Anti-Aging Eye Cream

RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner

10% Niacinamide Booster CLINICAL Niacinamide 20% Treatment RESIST Anti-Aging Eye Cream RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!