Believe it or not, this doesn’t lend itself to the simplest answer… although you probably guessed that to warrant an entire blog!
The short answer is pretty straightforward though. If you see an ingredient with ‘PCA’ on the end of it, like Zinc PCA or Magnesium PCA, that means that it is a salt, rather than the element, and it requires some chemistry to create. You see, PCA itself is a thing. It stands for Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid.
As a standalone ingredient, Pyrrolidone Carboxylic Acid is found in high concentrations in our skin, although also exists in places such as our brain and liver. It is a natural moisturising factor (or NMF), a substance with the ability to bind water in the skin to help reduce trans epidermal water loss (or TEWL). It is referred to as a skin conditioning agent, which acts as a humectant. Just like Hyaluronic Acid, PCA draws moisture from the atmosphere into your skin to help increase hydration in the epidermis.
Let's go back to Zinc. This element exists in trace amounts in our bodies, and is part of a balanced diet. It comes in plenty of different forms, and you might recognise Zinc Oxide from sunscreen, or Zinc Gluconate as a popular dietary supplement. What we want to look at though, is the Zinc ion, which contains all the skin benefits of Zinc, but exists away from the physical form of the element.
Still with me? When Zinc ions mix with PCA ions, you end up with Zinc PCA. It’s referred to as a PCA salt, because the combination of a positive charged ion (Zinc) and a negatively charged ion, or anion, (PCA) makes a salt. The best of both worlds! Other possible ion combinations include Magnesium, or more commonly, Sodium. Try to throw out the image of table salt or rock salt from your mind! Zinc PCA is a fine white powder, which is easily soluble in water.
So why use Zinc PCA? Because as I mentioned, you’re getting the best of both Zinc and PCA. Zinc is regarded as a great ingredient for controlling acne and reducing oiliness without drying out the skin, and helping with the inflammation, redness and discomfort that comes along with breakouts and blemish prone skin. Because of its calming effect, Zinc Oxide is often used in wound care! The reason it's such a popular physical sunscreen ingredient is because of how well the ions protect against UV damage, in particular collagen degradation. Paired with the moisturising effects of PCA, you end up with an ingredient which only benefits your skin! The two elements work in harmony to keep your skin nice and balanced.
If balance is what you're looking for, check out our Zinc PCA Facial Serum! It's the perfect seasoning to your oily, normal, combo or stressed skin routine, not to mention great for preventing and reducing maskne!
Amy @ Team Q+A
Aspiring author, craft addict, and Q+A's eCommerce Coordinator