N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG)

What is it? N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) is a compound that is found in our skin. In skin care products it improves barrier function, boosts healing, reduces water loss, and brightens the complexion.
INCI N-Acetyl Glucosamine
Appearance White powder
Usage rate 1–4%, up to 10%
Scent None
Solubility Water soluble up to 25%
Why do we use it in recipes? I like to save N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) for facial products, where it can work its magic and be appreciated. NAG does so many great things for the skin! It helps boost healing, improve barrier function, and reduce trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL). It can function as a mild chemical exfoliant, but without irritation. It can help brighten the skin (especially in combination with niacinamide) and even out the complexion. It increases hyaluronic acid production in the skin, repairs sun damage, improves skin tone & hydration, and reduces the appearance of wrinkles.
Do you need it? No
Strengths It does many wonderful things for the skin, is non-irritating up to 10%, and isn’t pH sensitive so it’s fairly easy to incorporate into our products.
Weaknesses It is a bit on the more expensive side, depending on where you live & shop and how much you buy.
Alternatives & Substitutions Panthenol would be a decent alternative as it plays many similar roles. Otherwise you could replace N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) with a humectant, like glycerine or sodium lactate, or just use more water.
How to Work with It Add it to the cool-down phase of your recipe. It is a good idea to pre-dissolve it in some water, but I’ve never had any issues adding it as a dry powder. Given it is only water soluble up to 25% you’d need to use a decent amount of water to dissolve it, and would want to make sure you were removing that water from your water phase earlier in the formulating process.
Storage & Shelf Life Stored somewhere cool, dark, and dry, N-Acetyl Glucosamine (NAG) should last two years.
Tips, Tricks, and Quirks It can be derived from the shells of crustaceans; check with your supplier if this is a concern for you.
Recommended starter amount 30g (1oz) or less
Where to Buy it  Buy it from an online DIY ingredient supplier or Amazon.

Some Recipes that Use N-Acetyl Glucosamine

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