What is hyaluronic acid and how does it benefit skin?
Hyaluronic acid(HA) is one of the ‘must-have’ ingredients in skincare formulation. Particularly in moisturizers and serums.
Despite its name HA is not acidic: it’s actually a type of sugar in a thick gel-like consistency that up the spaces between collagen and elastin fibres in the dermis.
HA acts like a water magnet attracting up to 1000 times its own weight in water. HA is made naturally in our bodies and nearly half of it is contained within our skin.
Hyaluronic acid binds easily with water to keep skin, joints, eyes and other connective tissues moisturized and lubricated. Because it is naturally found within the body, hyaluronic acid side effects are uncommon and occur most often as a result of the application method.
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant. This means it draws water to itself. Because it does this it is also a skin hydrator. Hyaluronic acid is used in the skincare industry to hydrate and moisturize your skin, prevent fine lines forming and to protect your skin barrier.
7 Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid for Skin
Made Naturally By Our Bodies
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced by your body and forms lubricating and hydrating factors in your skin scaffolding.
As we age we produce less and less hyaluronic naturally so applying it topically can stave off ageing skin.
Has a very low chance of causing irritation or allergic reactions.
When HA is applied directly to your skin, its water-binding properties allow it to attract retain water and keep it in your skin. As a result, the skin will look and feel firmer to the touch. Plump form skin is protected from damage.
Smooths Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Hydrated skins mean firmer plumper less wrinkled skin. Hyaluronic acid has been shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles visibly. The more hydrated and moisturized your skin is, the better it is at delaying and preventing wrinkles.
Hydrates Skin Without Clogging Pores
Hyaluronic acid is gentle, so it offers hydration without irritating sensitive skin. It’s non-comedogenic, meaning that it won’t clog or block pores and offers significant hydration and moisturization benefits.
If you have acne, you need to be careful with skincare products to avoid breakouts and irritation. Having moisturized skin cand help prevent breakouts.
When acne-prone skin becomes to dry, it may overproduce oil in an attempt to correct the problem. Creating a cycle of breakouts and dry skin.
Strengthens and Supports The Skins Protective Barrier
Hyaluronic acid is a glycosaminoglycan, which means that it is a vital substance of the skin’s lipid matrix. It gives skin its structure while allowing cells to move around. Glysosaminglucans like HA work to heal damaged skin, and keep the layers of your skin hydrated.
HA talk to the other molecules in your skin such as collagen and elastin, and ensure that they are distributed through your skin to maintain hydration, keep the skin supple, and repair damage caused by UV rays and environmental pollution.
Hyaluronic acid also stops moisture from evaporating from our skin into the air. Keeping the protective barrier strong.
Suitable For All Skin Types
HA has benefits for all skin types from dry to oily and those who have acne-prone skin. If you are brand new to using HA and have acne or very sensitive skin, it is a good idea to do a patch test before applying it to your face.
To patch test a product apply a small amount to the inside of your wrist in the morning. If after 4 hours there is no redness, irritation or itching you’re good to go. Talk to your doctor or dermatologist if you have any concerns.
Plays Nicely With Others
Because HA increases the effectiveness of some other skincare ingredients, it is great to use it combined with other ingredients.
Vitamin C has been proven to have Santa ging benefits when used in concentrations between 5 and 15%. Combining vitamin C with HA is fantastic for your skin.
Other antioxidants such as vitamin A and E, peptides, ceramides(protect the skin and help retain moisture) and niacinamide(a form of vitamin B3) combine well with HA and get an added boost in effectiveness.
You can layer more than one hyaluronic acid product ontop of anther to get maximum benefits.
Hyaluronic acid is a water-based ingredient. Water can’t penetrate oil so use your lighter water-based HA product before thicker oil-based moisturizers and creams to seal in moisture.
When To Use Hyaluronic Acid
Every day we lose a percentage of our naturally produced HA from ou bodies. Sun exposure, cigarette smoke and pollution also decrease the levels of hyaluronic acid in our skin.
Our bodies also produce less collagen and elastin as we age, unlike HA collagen and elastin can’t penetrate the skin. By using products that contain Ha we can boost hydration in our skin combat dryness and fine lines.
To get the best our of using hyaluronic acid its best to apply it to damp skin morning and night after cleansing and exfoliating and before oil-based products.
Regular exfoliation of your skin is also important. All skincare products penetrate better when the dead skin cells are removed from the skin’s surface. Exfoliation can be as gentle as using a facecloth to remove your cleaners. It does not need to be harsh chemical or physical scrubs.
Note: I would never recommend physical scrubs. They cause micro-tears in the skin and are usually very irritating.
- For oily/combination skin, use an oil-free, water-based serum to avoid clogging pores.
- For Normal /dry skin, choose water or oil-based serum
- For normal/dry skin, allow the serum to penetrate and be absorbed by the sin: once dry, you could apply another cream containing HA to lock-in moisture.
What Type of Hyaluronic Acid is Best For My Skin
What are the common names for hyaluronic acid in skincare formulations?
When looking for HA in skincare products it may not always be obvious if a product is formulated with hyaluronic acid. The most common names for hyaluronic acid are:
- Hyaluronic Acid
- Sodium Hyaluronate
FAQ About Hyaluronic Acid
- What Does Hyaluronic Acid Do
HA is crucial for keeping skin hydrated from the inside. It binds water molecules and helps other ingredients absorption, reduces inflammation, increase wound healing and helps between the skins cells.
Are Hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate the same thing?
Sodium hyaluronate is the salt of hyaluronic acid which makes it water-soluble. When you add water to hyaluronic acid you get sodium hyaluronate. It comes in multiple forms including serums, moisturizers, powders and oral supplements.
Sodium hyaluronate and hyaluronic acid are often used interchangeably but there are differences between the two which can make sodium hyaluronate more effective in some cases.
Because sodium hyaluronate is synthesized to have a low molecular weight, its more stable and less susdeptable to damage from oxidation.
Both hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate are used for the same skincare purposes, primarily it’s hydrating, plumping and antiaging benefits.
Is high weight Hyaluronic acid better than low weight hyaluronic acid?
There are many different sizes or ‘weights‘ of HA. High weight HA doesn’t penetrate your skin. High weight HA sits on the surface of your skin and hydrates the dead layer of skin cells in the stratum corneum. It does this by drawing water from the atmosphere.
Low weight HA works differently. these molecules are small enough to penetrate much deeper into the dermis of the skin. This increases the suppleness and firmness of your skin. HA also triggers a healing response and fight free radicals.
A word of caution though – despite all the marketing claims, low weight HA is still to big to the reach the living part of the dermis, and there is some research to suggest that low weight HA can actually be irritating to the skin.
Are Oral Supplements of Hyaluronic Acid safe?
In terms of skincare, oral hyaluronic acid offers benefits similar to topical forms. It combats the dryness and wrinkling that result from ageing, ultimately improving skin health and appearance. This study demonstrated that supplements significantly moisturize the skin and relieve signs of ageing in as little as 12 weeks.
As an added bonus of oral supplements over topical application are:
- HA has been proven to reduce pain and discomfort related to osteoarthritis, joint pain and in particular knee pain.
- Helps tissue regenerate faster
- Hydrate joints to relieve pain and stiffness
- Naturally lubricate the eyes. Because of this, it is the primary ingredients in dry eye mediations
- Protects bone density
HA is gentle and safe for oral use, though you should always use it as directed; only food-grade hyaluronate is safe for consumption.
You might want to consider paring topical hyaluronic acid products with HA supplements for optimal results from hyaluronic acid.
This is the oral hyaluronic I recommend and personally take every day.
Are Hyaluronic Injections and Dermal Fillers Effective?
Injectable hyaluronic acid offers dramatic and instantaneous results. Unlike HA creams and serum which can’t restore lost volume. Dermal filler can reduce skin depressions caused by scars and deep wrinkle and also plump up lips and add volume to the face.
The results are no permanent but can last anywhere from 6 months to 2 years.
Are Dermal Fillers Safe?
There are side effects to injectable hyaluronic acid such as swelling, bruising, and redness at the injection site. These side effects typically disappear in 2 – 5 days.
Because hyaluronic acid is made naturally by our bodies allergic reaction to it is very rare. The side effects of dermal fillers are almost always related to the injecting of the product. Swelling, redness and bruising. You can lessen these side effects by going to a reputable clinic, therapist or doctor and applying ice packs to the injection site afterwards.
Will Hyaluronic Acid Cause Acne?
Not usually, HA is non-comedogenic which means it does clog pores and because it occurs naturally in our bodies a reaction is very rare. Hyaluronic acid is great for acne because it allows oil-free hydration without the irritation.
Bottom Line With Hyaluronic Acid
The body’s HA production levels slowly decrease as we age, and over time this leads to dry, loose skin and a dull complexion. HA supplementation can help counteract some of these effects by restoring moisture to all of your skin. Topical HA will spot treat dryness and restore moisture. Injectable hyaluronic acid will instantaneously plump and fill out lax skin but these results are temporary.
Using HA whether topically orally or as a filler is generally very safe, although you should take advice from your doctor or dermatologist before using supplements or injectables.