Even if you’re relatively new to skincare concepts and routines, chances are, you’ve still heard of – Hyaluronic Acid (HA), glycolic acid, retinol and vitamin C. But we bet you’re still having your reservations when it comes to using them in your daily routine and its only natural to ask questions. Remember, the goal of any skin-care routine is: protection, prevention, cleansing and moisturising. Once added together, it tunes up your complexion, targets any problem areas and progressively show results.
There are no overnight miracles with skincare, even if the sea of social media influencers‘ suggest otherwise. Results are only seen through consistent use. As a rule of thumb, give your products a four to six weeks window to allow a full skin-cell turnover to take place. This is when you can actually start noticing all its benefits on your skin.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in many tissues and fluids, but more abundantly in articular cartilage and synovial fluid. Interestingly though, despite its misleading -suffix, hyaluronic acid is not an acid. Instead, it is a glycosaminoglycan or a longer, more complicated version of a sugar molecule.
On the beauty front, it plays a key role in our epidermis. It is a major component of the extra-cellular matrix of the basal kertinocytes (the framework in which our skin cells sit). It also exhibits remarkable skin regenerating role, particularly after UV damage, among other functions such as; hydration and free-radical scavenging.
Why is it so popular in skincare?
However, as we age, we start losing the ability to make enough hyaluronic acid in our bodies to maintain our skin’s moisture levels. So, as the level slowly begins to deplete, our skin starts feeling drier. Enter hyaluronic acid with its characteristic biochemical profile. It is extremely hydrophilic by nature and biochemically retains water. In fact, a 1998-based study had shown that one single gram of HA can bind up to 6 litres of water, which paved way for further research in the field of HA.
One molecule of hyaluronic acid alone can hold up to 1000 times its own weight in water. For this reason, its also termed as the ‘moisture magnet’.
So let’s put it out this way. When you apply your HA serum it mimics the action of sponge or a magnet and attracts moisture to the upper most surface of skin, or the epidermis. And by this action, it plumps up those fine lines and gives your skin a firmer, dewier and a more youthful appearance. But that takes us to the next question, where is all that moisture coming from? If there’s low air humidity, it actually draws moisture from the deeper layers of your skin and brings it to the surface of the epidermis, from where it gets evaporated, and then starts a vicious cycle. This inversely could leave your skin drier than it was.
With Hyaluronic Acid, size does matter
Not all hyaluronic acid is the same. While aesthetic medicine has evolved over the years and HA filler treatments are not unheard of today, it still continues to remain a topic of great interest. New topical formulations with various types of delivery systems are now available to the skin care market.
However, being a very large molecule (1,000 kilodaltons and above), HA does not penetrate and is not likely to be absorbed in intact skin. Instead, it ‘sits’ on the skin surface where it binds to water and maintains hydration. So considering the barrier function of the skin is entirely intact, HA is an excellent humectant or moisturizer. This however, preludes a different response when the skin’s protective barrier is compromised. Then, and only then, some of its wound healing and repair effects can be seen.
Simply put, we could say that high molecular weight HA provides excellent surface moisturization. In contrast, the medium to- lower molecular weight versions, whilst improving skin penetration and function, may also trigger an inflammatory response.
This is subject to debate. But having said that, most professionally formulated serums today contain different molecular weights of HA to give you, what they call the ‘full spectrum of benefits’.
How do I use it correctly?
Since it acts as a ‘water magnet’ and draws in moisture from around you, it would work best when you’re sandwiching it between other hydrators.
- So start with freshly cleansed base, spritz your skin with a hydrating mist. Then apply the HA serum or booster onto damp skin, and seal it in with a rich moisturiser or oil. The last step is important so it doesn’t evaporate and dry out your skin further.
- Limit to using only one HA containing product at a time.
- To get the most bang for your buck, look out for the dosage and formula. Most drugstore brands contain between 0.25 to 2.5 percent. For optimum effect, look for a formula with at least 1 percent HA.
- Amp up your diet by introducing HA rich foods into your daily diet. Needless to say, drinking 6-8 glasses of water is also essential, not for this alone, but for your general health and wellbeing.
Hyaluronic Acid Skincare
We have put together a list of our top Hyaluronic Acid based skincare products.
SkinCeuticals Hyaluronic Acid Intensifier
Why we love it:
This serum is formulated with a high concentration (1.3%) pure hyaluronic acid. It is also fortified with a blend of 10% Proxylane™ and 2% Licorice Root Extract to preserve and support HA levels.
Is Clinical Hydra-Cool Serum
Why we love it:
This refreshing serum contains a potent, but botanically sourced HA (25%) and a variety of other botanical extracts that are rich in antioxidants. In particular, menthol, vitamin B5, mushroom extract, and centella asiatica (a redness-reducing plant extract). As the name would suggest, this product also cools and calms the skin, reducing inflammation and irritation. And, its paraben-free.
Dr. Dennis Gross Hyaluronic Marine Hydration Booster
Why we love it:
Fueled by HA, it is also packed with other collagen and elastin boosting ingredients like copper, watermelon and centella asiatica. Since this is a booster, you can mix it in with other products to boost hydration, or use it as a spot treatment, and even as a serum. With little to no alcohol, this is a great option for those struggling with dehydrated, congested, or dull skin.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Why we love it:
This is the most affordable brand out there in the market and their formula can be considered a good dupe to Skinceutical’s Hydrating B5 gel. With an oil-free formula and a light texture, it contains a high concentration of both high and low-molecular weight HA and vitamin B5.
Drunk Elephant B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Serum
Why we love it:
This on the other hand contains a water-soluble, salt form of hyaluronic acid. Additionally, it also includes vitamin B5 and pineapple ceramides to improve the skin’s barrier, the overall texture and tone of the skin.
With sensitive skin, it is best to do a small patch test before applying anything new to your face. Also, please consult your dermatologist for further questions or concerns.
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