acetyl glucosamine

Skin-Identical/Repairing Ingredients , Miscellaneous

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]

References Cited:

  1. Muzzarelli R. Human enzymatic activities related to the therapeutic administration of chitin derivatives. Cell Mol Life Sci. 1997;53(2):131-40.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Bissett D. Glucosamine: an ingredient with skin and other benefits.. J Cosmet Dermatol.2006 Dec;5(4):309-15. 2006;5(4):309-15.

«Back to Ingredient Dictionary

Shop for products with this ingredient

About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

View Media Highlights

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

Skip to Top of Page
[{"Key":"SpecialOffers","Name":"SpecialOffers","BrontoID":"0bbf03e9000000000000000000000000ead0","Label":"Web Specials & Daily Deals","DisplayDescription":"","DisplayRestrictions":"","Value":null},{"Key":"SpecialOffersLessFrequent","Name":"SpecialOffersLessFrequent","BrontoID":"0bbf03e90000000000000000000000012122","Label":"Web Specials","DisplayDescription":"","DisplayRestrictions":"Less Frequent","Value":null},{"Key":"BeautypediaExclusives","Name":"BeautypediaExclusives","BrontoID":"0bbf03e9000000000000000000000000eace","Label":"Beauty Exclusives","DisplayDescription":"Expert Advice Newsletter ","DisplayRestrictions":"twice a month","Value":null},{"Key":"BeautypediaUpdates","Name":"BeautypediaUpdates","BrontoID":"0bbf03e9000000000000000000000000ead1","Label":"Beautypedia Updates","DisplayDescription":"New reviews on Beautypedia ","DisplayRestrictions":"twice a month","Value":null}]


Paula’s Choice Auto Delivery is a quick and convenient way to make sure you never run out of your favorite products again. Just select the products you can’t live without, choose how often you’d like them delivered and we’ll take care of the rest.

Get 10% off your first order when you sign up today.