Hyaluronic acid is the skincare hero of hydrating your skin. If you have acne you might shy away from ‘heavily moisturizing’ products because they have a reputation of causing breakouts. Hyaluronic acid is very moisturizer but . .
Can Hyaluronic Acid Cause Acne?
Hyaluronic acid helps form the structure of your skin. It is also a humectant, this means it draws moisture to itself. If it can’t draw the moisture from the environment it will pull it from the deeper layers of your skin. This can irritate your skin and make it look like acne.
Also, some forms of hyaluronic acid are actually extremely irritating to the skin. Hyaluronic acid is not ‘causing acne’ it is doing its job of pulling in moisture or you’re using the wrong type of HA.
What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do For Skin?
Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in our bodies. Most of it is found in the skin, although it is also in your eyeballs your joints and other tissues. In your skin, it forms part of the scaffold or matrix that holds up your skin.
As well as being able to hold 1000x it’s own weight in water, it also helps repair and protects your skin from free radical damage, the sun. Because of its ability to draw and hold a huge amount of water hyaluronic acid plays a big role in keeping your skin hydrated and plump it does this by forming a protective barrier on your skin trapping in the moisture.
It’s these hydrating and plumping effects that make hyaluronic acid s dermatologists favourite. Plump hydrated skin looks fresh and smooth and this is the goal of skincare.
Let’s talk about acne and why hyaluronic acid is probably not the culprit in causing your acne breakout.
What Causes Acne?
Acne is a skin condition that affects the pores on your skin. Each pore has a hair that is lubricated by a sebaceous gland. The sebaceous gland produces sebum. Sebum is an oily substance that lubricates your hair and skin to keep it moist and soft.
The sebum produced by sebaceous glands travels to the skin through hair follicles. It keeps your skin soft and lubricated. Dead skin cells can plug the hair follicles blocking the sebum. As a result, skin bacteria begin to grow within the clogged follicles, leading to inflammation and acne.
Four main factors contribute to acne breakouts:
- Excess oil/sebum production
- The oil and dead skins clogging hair follicles
- Bacterial growth around hair follicles due to the clogging
- Inflammation and subsequent formation of pimples
This is a very brief summary of acne and there are other more complex reasons for acne forming, such as hormones, genetics and environmental factors.
But, from a comedogenic (meaning pore-blocking) point, hyaluronic acid is not causing your acne.
Hyaluronic Acid Isn’t Causing Acne Is it Causing Purging?
It’s not really causing skin purging either. What hyaluronic might be doing it’s irritating your skin in two ways.
1.You might be using a low weight type of hyaluronic acid. This is known as hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid when added to skincare ingredients.
Do not believe the marketing hype low weight hyaluronic acids are not beneficial for your skin as they penetrate deeply into the skin where they then trigger inflammation.
Skincare manufactures are always looking for the ‘next big thing’ that they can sell to consumers and low weight hyaluronic acid is being touted as great because it ‘penetrates deeply’.
Using a large weight hyaluronic acid is where you get the benefits from. The ingredient name for large weight hyaluronic acid is sodium hyaluronate and this type of HA should not cause any irritation.
2. Applying hyaluronic acid in a dry environment may cause the HA to draw the moisture that it craves from the deeper layers of your skin. The water is drawn to the surface then evaporates and can make your skin dry and irritated.
What is skin purging?
Skin purging happens when you introduce a product to your skin and that product activates a response from your skin. Retinol, for example, is a common skincare ingredient that causes your skin to purge, because it speeds up the rate at which your cells renew.
This accelerated cell turn over pushes the top layer of old skin cells off your skin quicker and as a result the skin peels and flakes. Your skin can also become red and irritated by this process.
So hyaluronic acid is not causing acne or skin purging it is merely irritating your skin because you are using the wrong type of HA or there is not enough moisturizing happening when you’re using it.
Can I Use Hyaluronic Acid If I Already Have Acne?
Yes, in fact, hyaluronic acid can be used by every skin type and can also be used during pregnancy. Hyaluronic acid is native to humans which means we make it ourselves so it is very uncommon for it to cause a reaction – unless you’re using a low weight HA or not adding enough moisture to your skin when applying it.
Some people with acne avoid moisturizers believing that they make their acne worse. This is true for some moisturizer that contains comedogenic ingredients. Comedogenic ingredients are ones that form an occlusive barrier on the skin and block pores.
Acne-prone skin still needs hydration and hyaluronic acid is a perfect choice. Because of its large size and water holding properties, it sits on the surface of the skin drawing in moisture and keeping it there.
Hyaluronic acid is very water-based and beneficial to acne because it provides hydration without blocking skin pores.
The Botton Line on Can Hyaluronic Acid Cause Acne?
Hyaluronic acid when used incorrectly or the wrong type can cause increased dryness, redness and irritation. This is not acne or skin purge but rather an irritation response. When the right formula of hyaluronic acid is used it’s a fantastic moisturizer and promotes skin healing.
Any skin type can use hyaluronic acid and its pregnancy-safe because we make it in our bodies.
Where Does Hyaluronic Acid Go In A Skincare Routine?
You can use hyaluronic acid morning and night. If you use more than one serum hyaluronic acid is the ‘topcoat’ or the last serum to be applied before moisturizer as it seals everything in.
You can save a step in your routine and a few dollars by using a hyaluronic acid combined with a moisturizer.
This may also help with any irritation caused by not having enough moisturizer factors when using just a hyaluronic acid serum.
Hyaluronic Acid Products We Recommend.
I write about hyaluronic acid a lot.
I spend many hours researching the science and delving into the ingredient list then test and review products. My reviews are based on my personal experience and your skin may react very differently to mine so please keep that in mind.
I love hyaluronic acid and use it every day. If you want to learn more about the hyaluronic acid products I love and recommend then you go click here.
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