The Everyday Skin Care Hero
Increases skin elasticity – anti wrinkle
Can treat eczema
Can treat facial redness – rosacea, sensitivity
Despite its popularity, hyaluronic acid (HA) is one of the most misunderstood and misused ingredients in skin care. It’s often confused with alpha hydroxy (AHA) and beta hydroxy acids (BHA) since they all do wonders for the skin.
Hyaluronic Acid is powerful stuff. But don’t let the word “acid” fool you. This gel-like water-holding molecule is a moisture-binding ingredient that helps keep skin plump and hydrated. And, it’s actually something our bodies naturally produce. It helps retain over 1,000 times its weight in water within the cells of skin, making it an excellent moisturiser. Scientific studies have shown that as a key ingredient in skin care products it helps improve skin hydration and production of collagen, fight free radicals, maintain skin elasticity, and even has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that help with wound healing.
Also known as hyaluronan, HA is a clear, gooey substance that is naturally produced by your body. The largest amounts of it are found in your skin, connective tissue and eyes. Its main function is to retain water to keep your tissues well lubricated and moist. HA is a glycosaminoglycan, a fancy name for a vital naturally-occurring substance that’s part of skin’s youth-supporting matrix. As the chief glycosaminoglycan in skin, it works to keep every aspect of skin stable, safeguarded, and constantly renewed.
The skin contains about half of the hyaluronic acid in the body. It binds to water molecules, which helps keep the skin hydrated and supple. Levels of HA in the skin significantly decrease as people age, which can lead to dehydrated skin and wrinkles. Using cosmetic products that contain it may improve skin hydration and reduce signs of aging.
Hyaluronic Acid versus Sodium Hyaluronate
In Skin Care the terms Hyaluronic Acid and Sodium Hylauronate are often bandied about as if they were exactly the same ingredient with two (2) different names. But that’s not quite true.
Although HA does naturally occur in the human body, it’s not necessarily considered a “natural” ingredient in skin care, since HA needs to go through chemical processing in order to be effective in topical application. HA is known to have a large molecular weight and therefore does not penetrate the skin. One way to minimise the HA molecule is via hydrolyzing, or in other words, breaking it down via a chemical reaction with water — which results in the hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid commonly seen in serums and moisturisers. In a hydrolized form HA works on skin’s surface to attract and bind significant amounts of water to help hydrate the skin. It’s especially useful in the winter months, when your skin is naturally drier on the surface, as long as you use an occlusive to lock it in.
The more common way to turn pure hyaluronic acid into a useful topical is to “extract” its “sodium salt” to get sodium hyaluronate. Sodium hyaluronate is a derivative of HA — specifically, it’s a salt form of HA. Sodium hyaluronate has a lower molecular weight than HA and hydrolyzed HA, so it’s more easily absorbed into pores. Sodium hyaluronate has the ability to penetrate into deeper layers of the skin, and also attracts and binds water. This effect can plump the skin, thus reducing the look of wrinkles and making skin younger-looking. It is for this reason of better penetration that many of the good skin care ranges incorporate Sodium Hyaluronate into their formulas as opposed to Hyaluronic Acid.
Other names for Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic Acid, or HA, is one of the OG hydrating acids naturally produced in the body that provides immediate results. However it can come in many forms. Look on a skin care ingredients list for any of the following forms of hyaluronic acid;
- HA; | Glycoaminoglycane | Sodium Hyaluronate | Glycoaminoglycan | Hyaluran | Hyaluronan | Hyaluronate Sodium | Hylan | Sodium Hyaluronate
So why do we need more if our bodies already produce it?
Well, the average human body contains about 15 grams of Hyaluronic Acid. However, one third of that gets degraded and synthesised on a daily basis. We also produce less and less as we age. So we want more, which is why many anti-aging products contain Hyaluronic Acid.
Plastic surgeons often inject Hyaluronic Acid into sunken areas of skin to plump it up, but you don’t need to get injections to reap its benefits.