Whether it may have been mentioned by your dermatologist or featured in that beauty article you just read, you’ve probably noticed that hyaluronic acid is a key ingredient in skincare these days.
However, this isn’t just a short-lived beauty trend – when it comes to skin care ingredients, hyaluronic acid is one that you definitely want to be using, no matter your skin type.
Here’s everything that you need to know about this skincare superstar.
Table of Contents
- 1 What is Hyaluronic Acid?
- 2 What Does Hyaluronic Acid Actually Do?
- 3 The Benefits of Using Hyaluronic Acid on Your Skin
- 4 What About Hyaluronic Acid Fillers?
- 5 Hyaluronic Acid vs Sodium Hyaluronate
- 6 Is Hyaluronic Acid Bad for Your Skin in Any Way?
- 7 How to Add Hyaluronic Acid to Your Skin Care Routine
- 8 FAQs
- 9 Conclusion
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
The word “acid” may make hyaluronic acid sound a little intimidating, but it’s really nothing to be afraid of.
In fact, this sugar molecule is naturally produced by our bodies.
While the largest amounts of it can be found in our skin, it’s also used by our eyes and the connective tissue in our joints.
Sadly, as our bodies age, the amount of hyaluronic acid produced declines.
This is one of the reasons why our joints turn stiff and our skin dries out as we grow older.
Fortunately, using hyaluronic acid topically helps to rectify this, giving the skin enough of the molecule for it to function optimally again.
What Does Hyaluronic Acid Actually Do?
Hyaluronic acid is a humectant. This means that it has the unique ability to draw in moisture from the environment around it, before feeding those water molecules to whatever it has bound itself to. It basically acts as a water source for your skin and connective tissues.
As you can imagine, this makes it a key component in your skin’s moisture levels. The natural loss of hyaluronic acid means a decline in the amount of water that your skin cells have access to, which then has an effect on so many other aspects of your skin’s health.
The Benefits of Using Hyaluronic Acid on Your Skin
Hyaluronic acid is loved for being a multi-purpose ingredient. It can help your complexion in so many ways, but its main benefits are as follows:
Hydrates the Skin
Data shows that hyaluronic acid is capable of holding up to 1000 times its weight in water, making it no surprise that its most revered benefit is the way in which it hydrates the skin. When you topically apply hyaluronic acid, each molecule draws in water from the air around you. These water molecules are then delivered to your skin cells, which immediately take on a plumper and brighter appearance.
Not only does your skin look better when hydrated, but it’s also able to function more efficiently. This is why just about every dermatologist recommends HA for those with dry or dehydrated skin.
Reduces the Visibility of Fine Lines and Wrinkles
Fine lines and wrinkles tend to be most visible on dry skin. So, the way in which HA instantly hydrates and plumps up skin cells means that any creases in your skin become less noticeable.
However, many people don’t realize that the ingredient’s anti-aging benefits are more complex than this. In addition to being a powerful skin-plumper, data shows that HA can also help to increase collagen production. This is hugely beneficial in the long run – collagen is one of the main proteins that gives your skin its firmness and volume. The more collagen you have in your skin, the tighter and smoother your skin will be.
Has Antioxidant Properties
Another of the key hyaluronic acid benefits that many people aren’t aware of is its antioxidant properties. This means that the ingredient is able to neutralize harmful free radicals in the skin, which would have otherwise damaged your skin cells and accelerated the skin aging process.
Helps to Speed Up the Skin Healing Process
Hyaluronic acid plays a significant role in tissue regeneration in the skin, to the point where dermatologists often recommend it for people with skin wounds. The way in which HA also calms inflammation helps to reduce the chances of scarring around the wound.
What About Hyaluronic Acid Fillers?
Hyaluronic acid works extremely well when used topically, but, if you’re looking for fast and dramatic changes to your face, then your dermatologist may recommend hyaluronic acid fillers. These consist of a gel-like substance that’s injected into the skin’s dermal layer. Once the filler is in the right place, the hyaluronic acid within it draws in moisture and plumps up the face from within.
Hyaluronic acid fillers usually last for up to a year. Over this time, the HA slowly dissolves, after which you’ll need another filler.
Unlike many of the other beauty treatments out there, most dermatologists would agree that hyaluronic acid fillers are safe to be used by just about everyone. After all, those molecules are already naturally produced by our bodies, so any extra is readily welcomed.
If you’re interested in dermal fillers, your dermatologist is the person to speak to. There are several different types and editions, with each one using the ingredient in a different concentration and combination. Not everyone will be seeking the same results when it comes to firming and plumping, which is why your dermatologist will have the best advice on what your skin needs.
Hyaluronic Acid vs Sodium Hyaluronate
While hyaluronic acid is extremely effective at what it does, there’s another form of the ingredient that you should know about.
Sodium hyaluronate is the salt form of hyaluronic acid. This means that it is made up of much smaller molecules, which allows the ingredient to penetrate deeper into your skin.
However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that sodium hyaluronate is the best form of hyaluronic acid. It all depends on what you’re using the ingredient for. Hyaluronic acid is a good choice for those looking to add more moisture to the surface of their skin and strengthen their skin barrier. On the other hand, sodium hyaluronate would be better if you’re seeking antioxidants and an increase in collagen production.
Is Hyaluronic Acid Bad for Your Skin in Any Way?
When it comes to hyaluronic acid, the saying “too much of a good thing” holds true. You may think that a hyaluronic acid product containing a high concentration of the ingredient would be more beneficial than one with a lower HA content, but this is where the problems start.
Skin care experts recommend that 2% is the maximum concentration of HA that you should use. A product containing more than this can actually end up drying your skin out, since the HA will start to absorb moisture from deeper within your skin, rather than from the environment around you.
So long as you use it at the right concentration, topical HA doesn’t have any negative side effects. It’s an ingredient that the human body is already very familiar and compatible with, making it a great one to use on your skin.
HA fillers are also generally safe. Any side effects that occur tend to be down to the injection itself, rather than the HA within it.
How to Add Hyaluronic Acid to Your Skin Care Routine
Hyaluronic acid can be found in so many different skincare products, leaving many confused about the best way to actually add it into their skincare routine. Here are some of the best options:
A Hyaluronic Acid Serum
A serum is usually the most effective way to really make the most of HA and its benefits. Compared to a moisturizer, serums are much lighter and thinner in consistency. This allows hyaluronic acid serums to penetrate deep into the skin, where they can then bring about more significant hydrating and anti aging treatment.
Don’t forget to look at the concentration of HA in any serum you choose. Don’t worry if that product has a high amount of water – this is normal for hyaluronic acid formulas.
Need some recommendations? The Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum is a popular choice, as is the HA serum from Skinceuticals. Check out their official websites for retail links.
With constant product development meaning that more and more brands are now coming out with their own HA skin care products, a good serum should be easy to find!
A Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer
A serum is great for targeting the deeper layers of your skin, but if the surface of your skin could do with a moisture boost, then look for a moisturizer containing HA. You’ll find the compound in a variety of creams, so look for a formula that also targets any other complexion concerns that you may have. Again, don’t worry if the cream has a high water content.
Hyaluronic Acid Sheet Masks
For a more intense dose of HA, face mask products are ideal. Whether you’re looking to plump up your complexion, minimize fine lines, or simply want more of a glow, masking can help. Sheet masks are great, as are water-based gel masks or creamy overnight masking products.
Skin Care Ingredients That Shouldn’t Be Used with Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid plays well with almost every other ingredient out there. The only exception is glycolic acid. Due to its low pH levels, it can sometimes degrade HA, rendering it useless. However, you won’t need to book yourself in for an emergency dermatologist appointment if you do accidentally combine the two, as it’s not dangerous in any way.
Is it OK to use hyaluronic acid every day?
It’s completely safe to use HA products every day – you could even use HA twice a day if you wanted to!
Does hyaluronic acid lighten skin?
Although hyaluronic acid doesn’t have lightening effects, the way in which it plumps the skin up from within gives the complexion a brighter and lighter look.
Can you use hyaluronic acid under the eyes?
Hyaluronic acid is safe to use on any part of the face or body, including under the eyes. However, make sure that everything else in the products that you’re using can also be safely applied around the eyes.
There aren’t many skincare ingredients out there that are beneficial for just about everyone, but hyaluronic acid is one of them. No matter your age or skin type, extra moisture is something that your skin could always do with, and HA is the perfect way to give it that.