I know you’re no stranger to hyaluronic acid (HA). After all, it’s a gold-standard skincare ingredient, great for all skin types that targets hydration — the thing your skin needs at any time of the day, all-year-round, and at all ages. When skin is hydrated, it appears plump, dewy, bouncy, and glowy. Besides, hydrated skin means a strong protective barrier, healthy and wrinkle-free skin. Yes, dehydrated skin leads to premature skin aging, making hyaluronic acid one of the best allies you need. So, if you’re worried sick about getting wrinkles on your face, then you should probably turn your head to hyaluronic acid since it plays a pivotal role in tissue regeneration.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a substance, more precisely a sugar molecule, naturally produced by the body. Its main role is to bind water to collagen molecules, locking it into the skin and keep it hydrated and bouncy.
Not only HA retains moisture in the skin, but it also prevents it from evaporating. As a matter of fact, 50% of the body’s hyaluronic acid is in the skin, being the main component of what gives your skin structure. You get now how important it is to replenish its levels, especially when, with age, its production starts to decrease.
How does hyaluronic acid works in skincare?
In skincare products, hyaluronic acid is used as a humectant, aka an agent that hydrates the skin by attracting water molecules. However, since there are three main types of hyaluronic acid (hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid, hyaluronic acid, and sodium hyaluronate), each works differently in skincare products. Hyaluronic acid has various benefits for the skin, depending on its molecular weight — yes, size matters.
Types of hyaluronic acid
By its nature, HA has a high molecular weight, which makes it a macromolecule. Large molecules form a film on the skin, preventing transepidermal water loss, but they can not penetrate further. For this reason, HA molecules are sometimes chemically chopped up into smaller ones so that they can enter the skin.
- Hyaluronic acid is the high molecular weight (molecules of 1,500 kD) that remains on the skin’s surface, delivering an instant plump effect but with a shorter lifespan. Once applied to the skin, the high molecular weight hyaluronic acid (HMW-HA) coats the skin, preventing water evaporation and improving elasticity and firmness.
- Hydrolyzed HA is the low molecular weight (50 kD) version of hyaluronic acid. This means the molecule has been split into smaller fragments, meaning it can reach the deeper layers of skin, stimulating tissue repair, sustaining skin moisture content, and increasing its self-defense. Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid is great at giving long-term results.
- Sodium hyaluronate (SH) is probably the most common form of HA used in skincare formulations. It has a lower molecular weight than HA and hydrolyzed HA, small enough to enter the epidermis, aka the top skin’s layer. This means SH improves hydration from the inside out, offering long-lasting moisturizing benefits as well as hydrolyzed HA.
Hyaluronic acid skin benefits
It quenches skin
This is perhaps the most crucial benefit of using all types of hyaluronic acid. Since it is a humectant, hyaluronic acid acts as a sponge that holds water in the skin. It draws water from your skin’s inner layers to keep the top layers moisturized and holds water 20 times more than its molecular weight. Believe it or not, one gram (0.03 oz.) of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water. HA also prevents skin from losing water by trapping moisture in instead of letting it evaporate into the atmosphere.
Acts as a shield against free radicals damage
There are fatty acids in the skin that protect the lipid barrier from bothers, such as UVA/UVB rays, dust, pollution, and dirt.
With age, these fatty acids decrease and become less able to protect the skin, so it becomes exposed to all kinds of irritants, which damages it. High molecular weight hyaluronic acid helps improve the protective barrier of the skin by preserving moisture in it. This makes the skin appear more elastic, even-toned, and firmer.
It rejuvenates and energizes skin
Studies have revealed specific anti-inflammatory properties in hyaluronic acid that help the skin heal faster, calling it one of the key players in the tissue regeneration process. So, layering hyaluronic acid skincare products repair and heals, giving you a revitalized youthful look.
The concentration also matters. Ideally, you’ll want to use products with 1% HA or higher. Ensure hyaluronic acid appears high on the ingredients list and not between the last. Otherwise, you won’t get as many benefits.
Keeps skin firm and smooth
With aging, sun exposure, and free radicals damage, skin loses firmness and elasticity. By boosting skin hydration and stimulating skin repair, HA helps curb these issues, making the skin look firmer and smoother. Although it will not fully restore the skin’s elasticity, it will hydrate it, making it appear healthy, bouncy, and hydrated.
It’s well-known that hyaluronic acid improves skin firmness, elasticity, and moisture. One study was carried out by a group of researchers who compared six different face creams containing HA. They found out that there was a 10-20% increase in skin firmness, moisture, and elasticity. This is why everyone needs hyaluronic acid! No wonder most of the world’s beauty care experts can’t seem to get enough of it. Beauty care bloggers are constantly churning out new benefits of using this ingredient too.
It plumps fine lines and wrinkles
By restoring moisture into the skin, hyaluronic acid makes fine lines and wrinkles appear filled. Once the skin is hydrated, it appears smooth, and fine lines become less visible. At the same time, it prevents new lines from forming prematurely.
Hyaluronic acid’s benefits in reducing wrinkles have actually been confirmed in multiple clinical studies. They reported that hyaluronic acid decreases the depth of wrinkles by up to 40% in eight weeks (applied twice daily), followed by a 96% increase in skin hydration.
How to choose the best HA for you
Different beauty products contain hyaluronic acid, but your need should determine your choice. There are topical products and supplements. However, before you choose, identify what you intend to achieve with it. HA is available in different forms that can be used as serums, creams on the body, or administered as injections for dramatic instant results, but that’s another story.
If you aim to keep your skin hydrated using HA, then creams and serums are the best for you. Buy a moisturizing product with hyaluronic acid indicated as an active ingredient. For maximum effectiveness, apply it morning and night. You may begin to notice improvements immediately you start using it, but if you don’t, don’t panic. Give it time to work; it might take a few days or weeks. Pick your serum with hyaluronic acid.
If you aim to get a facelift using HA, then go for this option. It can be injected into your body to help fill fine lines and wrinkles with an amazingly fast result. Since hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in the body, you don’t have to worry about side effects.
Anyway, feel free to ask your cosmetician to administer a numbing agent to the proposed area to ease the discomfort.
Are there any side effects?
Hyaluronic acid is generally safe, but in rare cases, a few side effects might occur. This depends on the application method. While dietary supplements and topical use don’t cause adverse reactions, a dermal HA filler is more likely to do so, but not necessarily because of the hyaluronic acid itself. Anyway, every time you use a new product on your skin, do a test parch in a small area to determine any possible sensitivities.
Hyaluronic acid is an effective humectant agent famous for its ability to hydrate help skin retain water, keeping tissues well lubricated and moist. It can be the life-changing miracle you’re looking for. It definitely is not a fad ingredient but a staple for your skincare routine, no matter your skin type.