Amino acid sugar and primary constituent of mucopolysaccharides and hyaluronic acid. Acetyl glucosamine can be considered a skin-identical and skin-repairing ingredient. In large concentrations, it can be effective for wound healing. There is research showing that chitosan (which is composed of acetyl glucosamine) can help wound healing in a complex physiological process. [1, 2] However, the concentration used in those studies was significantly greater than the concentration used in cosmetics.
In terms of exfoliation, the research that does exist was performed by Proctor & Gamble and by Estee Lauder, and both companies sell skincare products with acetyl glucosamine. [3, 4] In terms of its antiwrinkle action, there is no research demonstrating that wrinkles are related to wounds.
Acetyl glucosamine also has research demonstrating that it has an inhibitory effect on melanin production; thus, it can be an important ingredient in skin-lightening products, particularly when combined with niacinamide. Most of the research concerning acetyl glucosamine’s effect on hyperpigmentation is from Procter & Gamble, and their Olay brand uses acetyl glucosamine in many products. Still, the research is compelling and the protocols are sound. [5, 6, 7]
- Muzzarelli R. Human enzymatic activities related to the therapeutic administration of chitin derivatives. Cell Mol Life Sci. 1997;53(2):131-40.
- Ueno H, Murakami M, Okumura M, Kadosawa T, Uede T, Fujinaga T. Chitosan accelerates the production of osteopontin from polymorphonuclear leukocytes.. Biomaterials. 2001;22(12):1667-73.
- Mammone T, Gan D, Fthenakis C, Marenus K. The effect of N-acetyl-glucosamine on stratum corneum desquamation and water content in human skin.. J Cosmet Sci. 2009;60(4):423-8.
- Millikin C, Robinson M, Reichling T, Hurley G. Topical N-acetyl glucosamine and niacinamide affect pigmentation-relevant gene expression in in vitro genomics experimentation.. J Am Acad Dermatol.. 2007;56(2):AB169.
- Kimball A, Kaczvinsky J, Li J, Robinson L, Matts P, Berge C, Miyamoto K, Bissett D. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation after use of moisturizers with a combination of topical niacinamide and N-acetyl glucosamine: results of a randomized; double-blind; vehicle-controlled trial. Br J Dermatol. 2010;162(2):435-41.
- Bissett D, Farmer T, McPhail S, Reichling T, Tiesman J, Juhlin K, Hurley G, Robinson M. Genomic expression changes induced by topical N-acetyl glucosamine in skin equivalent cultures in vitro. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2007;6(4):232-8.
- Bissett D. Glucosamine: an ingredient with skin and other benefits.. J Cosmet Dermatol.2006 Dec;5(4):309-15. 2006;5(4):309-15.