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N-Acetyl Glucosamine in Skincare: How This New Ingredient Can Benefit Your Skin

N-Acetyl Glucosamine: A new ingredient to improve skin health

A relatively new entrant to the cosmetic industry, N-acetyl glucosamine is a skin lightening agent. It is naturally produced in the body by adding an amino group to a glucose molecule. Because it’s already present in our bodies, most experts consider N-acetyl glucosamine a safe ingredient that can help you look younger and fresher. Read on to discover how it works, its uses, and what it can do for your skin!

What Is N-Acetyl Glucosamine and How Does It Work?

N-acetyl glucosamine is a monosaccharide derivative of glucose. It has several functions in the body, but the most important one is its combination with glucuronic acid, which forms a compound we’re all more familiar with, and it’s called hyaluronic acid.

The Benefits of N-Acetyl Glucosamine for Skin

1. Increases the skin’s water content

Hyaluronic acid is a key component of body tissues and is most abundant in the skin. Nearly 50% of the body’s hyaluronic acid is found in the skin. Hyaluronic acid, therefore, is a very important compound in the skincare industry. However, it does not penetrate skin easily, and its deficiency cannot be fixed easily. Since N-acetyl glucosamine can be metabolized into hyaluronic acid, it can increase the skin’s water content.

2. Helps lighten skin and reverse UV-induced skin damage

Additionally, N-acetyl glucosamine can reduce the production of melanin through tyrosinase inhibition. Through this mechanism, it can help address cases of hyperpigmentation due to UV skin damage.

3. Helps fight and reverse signs of skin aging

N-acetyl glucosamine also promotes the synthesis of collagen, which is responsible for the strength, elasticity, smoothness, and plumpness of skin. Reduced levels of collagen is also linked to aging. Using products with N-acetyl glucosamine can help fight and reverse signs of aging.

4. Gently exfoliates skin

Skin exfoliation is also one of the many benefits of using creams and serums with N-acetyl glucosamine. It is safe to use and does not usually cause redness, irritation, and photosensitivity, even for people with sensitive skin.

What Studies Say About N-acetyl Glucosamine

On Increasing Skin Hydration

There is plenty of research that backs the use of N-acetyl glucosamine in skincare products. There are studies that report the importance of this ingredient in the production of hyaluronic acid, heparan sulfate, and proteoglycans. These compounds help maintain the water content of the skin by acting as water retainers. A laboratory study on Franz cells also found that N-acetyl glucosamine can penetrate skin well, making it an effective moisturizing agent.

A study from 2009 showed that topical treatments with N-acetyl glucosamine improved skin hydration, reduced flakiness and smoothening of stratum corneum. The same study reported that using N-acetyl glucosamine modulates the adhesion of keratinocytes, thereby smoothening skin efficiently.

On Skin Lightening and Reversing Hyperpigmentation

Another study tested the effect of 2% N-acetyl glucosamine on hyperpigmentation. The researchers found that after eight weeks of use, N-acetyl glucosamine significantly reduced dark skin patches and tans. Another study also showed that combining N-acetyl glucosamine with niacinamide (vitamin B3) was more effective in reducing dark spots on the skin.

On Treating Acne

N-acetyl glucosamine, if used early in acne breakouts, can provide relief from lesions. A 2006 study compared the effectiveness and tolerance of topical creams with N-acetyl glucosamine with those with benzoyl peroxide. It found that N-acetyl glucosamine is a more effective agent in the early phase of the treatment in comparison to benzoyl peroxide. The plus point of N-acetyl glucosamine is that it is tolerated well by different types of skin. Especially for people with skin dryness, peeling, burning and stinging, N-acetyl glucosamine was well tolerated and treated acne.

Is N-Acetyl Glucosamine Good for Your Skin?

N-acetyl glucosamine is great for your skin. It is a safe skin care ingredient that hydrates skin, lightens hyperpigmentation, reverses skin damage, and even treats acne breakouts, making skin look brighter, younger-looking, and smoother. Together with niacinamide, it is a great ingredient to add to your anti-aging skin care routine.

Consider a Niacinamide and N-Acetyl Glucosamine Serum

If you’re looking for a cream or serum that has these two powerful ingredients, we suggest products that contain at least 2% N-acetyl glucosamine, such as LeCerre Skincare's Rapid Brightening Serum. This brightening and anti-aging serum features a proprietary blend of good-for-you ingredients, including 4% N-acetyl glucosamine and 5% niacinamide, to diminish the appearance of acne marks, brown spots, sun spots, and melasma.


  • Zoe Diana Draelos, MD. Dermatologic Therapy. 28 November 2007. Skin lightening preparations and the hydroquinone controversy
  • Donald L Bissett PhD Larry R Robinson PhD Patricia S Raleigh BS Kukizo Miyamoto PhD Tomohiro Hakozaki MS Jim Li MS, MA Gary R Kelm PhD. Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. 05 March 2007. Reduction in the appearance of facial hyperpigmentation by topical N‐acetyl glucosamine.
  • Mammone T, Gan D, Fthenakis C, Marenus K. Journal of Cosmetic Science. 2009 Jul-Aug;60(4):423-8. The effect of N-acetyl-glucosamine on stratum corneum desquamation and water content in human skin.
  • Barbara Green, Richard Wildnauer, PhD, Brenda Edison. American Academy of Dermatology, February 2007 Volume 56, Issue 2, Supplement 2, Page AB19. Topical n-acetylglucosamine provides fast acne-reducing benefits and mildness demonstrating its potential utility in enhancing conventional Rx or OTC acne treatments.
  • Manning Selvage. March 2006. New studies show topical glucosamine targets pigment overproduction: Data presented at 2006 American Academy of Dermatology Meeting uses first ever non-invasive imaging system to detect pigment changes, test glucosamine efficacy