The Skincare Ingredient You Need To Know: Hyaluronic Acid

Any avid skin enthusiast will tell you the importance of reading the labels on your skincare products, you would be astonished by how many products sold on the market these days consist of a bunch of useless and even harmful ingredients.

Well, seeing as we were once gullible customers as well, we now want to pass on our knowledge and educate you guys, our dear readers, on what ingredients you should be looking out for, so that you are actually purchasing a good product and not getting duped by pretty packaging and fancy marketing language!

So today, we’re going on a little deep-dive session on one of skincare’s star ingredients – Hyaluronic acid. To begin, let’s talk about the basics of hyaluronic acid. This ingredient isn’t your typical acid and its name can be a little confusing. Unlike the exfoliating acids like AHAs and BHAs you often see in skincare, hyaluronic acid, a.k.a hyaluronan, is a clear, gooey substance that is naturally produced by our bodies. It is a type of humectant, which means that it works to draw moisture into the skin and anchors it there. It is found in large amounts in our skin, eyes, and connective tissues and helps to keep our skin plump, eyes dewy and joints moisturized. However, as our own natural reserves get depleted over time, we can replenish hyaluronic acid through skincare products, topical serums, eye drops, injections and even supplements.

The good thing is…

There are a variety of benefits when it comes to hyaluronic acid. For one, it can help your skin look and feel more supple. Roughly half of the hyaluronic acid in your body is present in your skin, where it binds to water and retains moisture. However, the natural aging process combined with exposure to things like ultraviolet radiation from the sun, pollution and tobacco smoke can decrease its amounts in our skin. Another key role of hyaluronic acid is wound-healing. While already constantly present in our skin, its concentrations rise significantly once there is damage detected and repair is needed. Hyaluronic acid helps the wound heal faster by regulating inflammation levels and signaling the body to build more blood vessels in the damaged area. Hyaluronic acid also has antibacterial properties, so it can reduce infections to open wounds.  

Aside from the never-ending list of favorable effects such as instant hydration, visibly plumping skin, reducing wrinkles, redness or dermatitis, wound healing and helping to repair your skin’s protective barrier, hyaluronic acid can also balance the production of sebum. Since we already naturally produce hyaluronic acid, products that contain it can be used by almost everyone, but it’s especially great for those with dry or dehydrated skin. That is why the saying “hydration is key” exists in skincare – As long as the skin is well-hydrated, it looks healthy, balanced and youthful, and can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Meanwhile, the sebum-balancing property of hyaluronic acid also makes it especially beneficial to oily or acne prone skin types as well, as it regulates sebum production and can therefore reduce an overproduction of oil. When hyaluronic acid is mixed with other active ingredients like retinols and exfoliating acids, it serves to neutralize any negative side effects in other ingredients. So, just know that when hyaluronic acid is used in any skincare product, it is usually a good thing!

But here’s what to look out for:

We generally like to recommend hyaluronic acid serums because ‘serums’ are the most potent source of concentrated ingredients. Serums can sink deep into your skin and are made to target specific skin concerns. Hyaluronic acid, for example, comes in several different sizes or molecular weights. Molecular weights can determine how deeply into the skin a molecule can penetrate. Basically, the smaller the molecule, the deeper it can penetrate into your pores. A larger molecule will sit closer to your skin surface for that immediate plumping effect. The different sizes and molecular weights of hyaluronic acids often appear under different names on the ingredients list of skincare products. You might see it as “hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid”, which is a low-weight molecule that draws in moisture at the skin’s surface; “sodium hyaluronate” is another small molecule that can help clump skin and minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles; or “sodium acetylated hyaluronate” a high molecular weight that remains at the epidermis for long-lasting hydration. 

Now that you are fully aware of how hyaluronic acid works, let’s talk about how you should  incorporate it into your skincare routine! First, it’s always best to apply a hyaluronic acid product on damp skin, so that it has moisture to hold on to. A good tip is to ditch the towel after washing and cleansing your face, and instead gently pat in all the moisture droplets using only your hands. This will leave your skin damp and ready for the next steps of your skincare routine. If your face is dry between the time you wash your face and when you start applying skincare products, then you can always use a facial mist to spray and keep your skin damp. Another tip for maximizing the usage of hyaluronic acid products, is to make sure you seal all of the moisture in. You can accomplish this by using products with emollient or occlusive formulas (like heavier moisturizers or face oils), right after you apply your hyaluronic acid product. This step is not only important for protecting your skin, but it also prevents moisture loss throughout the day, so that all the skincare products that you’ve applied can work more effectively. Hyaluronic acid works well with just about every other skincare ingredient out there like Vitamin C or exfoliating acids, so you don’t need to worry about what to use alongside it, as long as you use products catered to your skin’s needs. Lastly, remember this rule when you’re layering your skincare products: always apply the lighter or thinner products/formulas first, so that your skin can properly absorb it, before you move on to the thicker ones. Now, go get that glowy skin, sis!

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