By Andrea Popolizio
If there’s one skin-care ingredient that puts you in the fast lane to hydrated skin, it’s hyaluronic acid. You’ll find it as an active ingredient in almost every skin-care product, such as serums, cleansers, moisturizers, and more. There’s a reason it’s everywhere. Not only does hyaluronic acid do a killer job when it comes to moisturizing the skin, but it minimizes signs of aging, increases plumpness and hydrates the skin, making fine lines and wrinkles less visible.
What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
Technically, it’s a group of sugar molecules called polysaccharides. These molecules work to cushion and lubricate, and are found in the body's natural connective tissues.
Over time, your body’s hyaluronic acid declines. This can be caused by environmental factors, such as, climate, air pollution, and water quality. Aging also plays a role in the reduction of hyaluronic acid in the body.
Topical products that feature hyaluronic acid, whether as part of the ingredients list in a moisturizer or as the star of a serum, can help rebuild those depleted molecules. Hyaluronic acid attracts and binds to water molecules and increases the water content of the skin.
What Are the Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid?
The key benefit of hyaluronic acid is hydration and that unbelievable ability to retain moisture. To understand how important moisture is for the skin, first you have to know what dehydrated skin is. When the top layer of skin doesn’t have enough water, the skin appears dry, rough, and flaky.
It’s not just a matter of aesthetics. Dry skin can be vulnerable. Dehydrated skin is unable to maintain an appropriate amount of skin barrier, leaving the skin more susceptible to damage from external and environmental factors. When the skin barrier is not intact, it can let bacteria in, which can lead to infection.
Hydration is what your skin needs. Skin hydration is important because hydrated skin looks more plump, healthier, and vibrant. Skin aging is associated with loss of skin moisture, and hyaluronic acid is the key ingredient when it comes to combating or reversing these signs. Hyaluronic Acid has water-pulling qualities, this can refine and age-rewind in those dry, sunken, or ‘crepe’ areas.
It is recommended applying products with hyaluronic acid all year round to help and maintain hydrated skin. Even if you aren’t battling dryness, you will want to add hyaluronic acid to your skin-care routine.
The 3 Types of Hyaluronic Acid & How They Differ:
Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid is hyaluronic acid that has been broken down into elements small enough to penetrate the skin. It’s moisturizing, but not the most moisturizing option, so it’s best for people who have oily skin, since these skin types want to avoid over-moisturizing.
Sodium hyaluronate goes deeper into the skin and delivers even better results. Sodium hyaluronate is best for people who have normal skin, because it will allow moisture to seep in, but you don’t really need a heavy-duty, long-lasting effect. This is the ingredient you’ll likely find in serums.
Sodium acetylated hyaluronate has the benefits of sodium hyaluronate but with longer-lasting results. It’s best for people who need moisture, such as those with dry skin, those who live in dry climates, or those looking for a product for the dry winter months.
Does Hyaluronic Acid Have Any Side Effects?
Hyaluronic acid is generally safe for all skin types and doesn’t typically lead to any adverse reactions when applied topically. Hyaluronic acid is a natural substance in our skin.
If someone has a reaction to a hyaluronic acid product, most likely, this is being caused by other ingredients, such as preservatives. Preservatives extend the life of a product, but some, including parabens, formaldehyde-releases, and isothiazolinones, can lead to the irritation.
Using Hyaluronic Acid: What to Look for in a Topical Product
Name a skin-care category, and there’s probably a product featuring hyaluronic acid. You’ll find the ingredient in numerous products, including:
Before you purchase a topical product, follow these steps.
Check for Allergens and Vitamin C
Watch out for any ingredients you’re allergic to or that have caused you irritation in the past.
Look for a hyaluronic acid product that also has vitamin C as an ingredient.
Look for Its Molecular Weight
Molecular weight isn’t always listed but it’s worth looking for. As this can give you a clue as to how effective the product will be. Acids with lower molecular weights (50 kilodaltons (atomic mass weight) versus 2,000, for instance can more easily penetrate the skin and have been shown to be more effective at fighting wrinkles.
See if Alcohol Is Listed
Alcohol can counteract the ingredient’s moisturizing benefits. Isopropyl alcohol is very drying and can leave skin vulnerable to cracking, allowing the skin to break. This can lead to possible irritants and bacteria to enter where they do not belong. In addition to the ‘drying effect’, this can cause the cells to become less plump, the complete reverse effect of what you want. Ingredients are listed in order of concentration, so if it’s one of the first six ingredients, the product may be drying.
Products with added fragrance can cause irritation or breakouts in people with sensitive skin, so it’s best to steer clear. Fragrance can also lead to contact dermatitis, which is a skin rash that can appear minutes to days after contact with a trigger.
Don’t Shy Away From Water
Often you’ll see that water is the first ingredient on your hyaluronic acid product. It may seem like a useless ingredient, as if it’s diluting the product, but it actually helps make the hyaluronic acid more effective. Having a more water-based product — rather than a cream, oil, or gel — will allow the product to penetrate the skin easier.
Conclusion: Hydration is essential, hyaluronic acid is necessary. Hyaluronic acid is more than just a fancy aesthetic product to use, it is a vital molecule that you and your skin crave and need.
I hope this article “hydrated” you with an insight of hyaluronic acid and its benefits.