Skin Care Ingredient Focus: Hyaluronic Acid
What is Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid, abbreviated as HA, is a carbohydrate molecule that naturally occurs in the body. HA primarily functions as a hydrator or lubricator for our joints, skin, and connective tissues. While hyaluronic acid is found in many areas of the body, nearly 50% of all HA occurs in the skin. However, the skin naturally loses HA as it ages causing a loss of suppleness and vitality.
How is Hyaluronic Acid Used?
Hyaluronic acid provides many health benefits. HA is commonly used to treat dandruff, cold sores, eye irritation, and sore joints. In recent years, hyaluronic acid has become one of the most popular ingredients in skin care due to its hydrating, anti-aging, and protectant properties.
How Can Hyaluronic Acid Benefit the Skin?
HA is a beneficial component of skin vitality, providing many dermatologic and aesthetic benefits regardless of the user’s skin type. Here are some of the ways HA can help improve your skin:
The Ultimate Hydrator
HA is one of the most powerful moisturizing ingredients in skin care. It’s a well-known humectant, meaning it has properties that draw in and retain moisture. Each hyaluronic molecule can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water. This trait is beneficial as HA molecules are too large to actually penetrate into the skin. Instead, HA remains on the skin’s surface and works to hold moisture in place so the skin can absorb it.
Hyaluronic acid also helps build and maintain a solid lipid barrier on the outer surface of the skin. This barrier seals current hydration into the skin, protecting the skin from water loss. Thus, hyaluronic acid can be used to replenish and retain much needed moisture.
Hyaluronic acid can enhance the skin’s natural protective barrier, helping to shield the skin from free radicals and pollutants. The antioxidant properties inherent in HA also help limit the harmful effects of UV damage on the skin. Finally, HA supports the body’s natural healing process which can help the skin respond to traumas like lacerations or sun burns.
HA has various anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to help soothe the skin. In fact, many dermatologists recommend HA based treatment to help calm flare-ups of chronic skin conditions like eczema or rosacea.
Hyaluronic acid has numerous anti-aging properties. HA can dramatically plump or firm the skin by boosting its hydration levels. This can minimize the visibility of lines and wrinkles while also reducing any sagginess or dropping of the skin. Additionally, hyaluronic acid has been shown to stimulate collagen and elastic production, two naturally occurring proteins that are essential for skin elasticity. Finally, HA promotes a healthy level of skin cell regeneration, a process where old and dead skin is replaced with newer and more youthful appearing skin.
Tone & Texture Improvements
In addition to tightening or plumping the skin, the hydration boost provided by HA helps the skin feel soft and smooth. Hyaluronic acid also has the ability to reduce and prevent the appearance of age spots and other pigmentation issues.
HA is common in many acne products for two main reasons. First, HA helps promote a proper balance of hydration which can prevent the overproduction of oil (sebum) by the skin. Secondly, the moisturizing benefits of HA can help counteract any dryness caused by common acne fighting ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
How to Add Hyaluronic Acid to Your Skin Care Regimen
Currently there are many great hyaluronic acid-based skin care products including lotions, creams, and serums. Popular HA-based dermal fillers like Juvederm and Restylane can be injected into the skin to smooth lines and wrinkles. Note: hyaluronic acid oral supplements are not ideal for skin care but can provide osteoarthritis and joint pain benefits.
Are There Any Side Effects?
Since it naturally occurs in the body, HA poses a very low risk to causing an allergic reaction or skin irritation. However, we always recommend consulting with your dermatologist or physician before adding a new ingredient into your skin care regimen. It’s also a good idea to test any new product on a small patch of your skin on your forearm before applying to a larger or more sensitive area.