An overview of hyaluronic acid
This blog post is a reproduction of an article that I wrote for my makeup team's blog. It is one of the most-read articles in that blog, so I think some of my blog readers may be interested in this topic too.
What is hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a substance that is naturally found in the body. It functions as a lubricant in the joints, neural tissues and in the skin.
Hyaluronic acid works as a "humectant" in skincare products, meaning that it retains water to prevent loss of moisture from skin. It can hold up to 6000 times its weight in water.
When skin is hydrated, the look of fine lines and wrinkles are diminished. Hydrated skin is also better at regulating oil production than dehydrated skin.
What do I look for in an ingredients list
Hyaluronic acid is a collective term of molecules that are of different sizes. In fact hyaluronic acid is a chain of polysaccharide consisting of a repeating disaccharide (sugar) unit, so there is no set weight (or chemical formula). Sometimes a product may use "low molecular weight hyaluronic acid" as an ingredient - this means that the hyaluronic acid chain is "fragmented" (each molecule consists of less repeating disaccharide units) to enhance penetration.
Pictured above: The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5; Endota Ceuticals Hyaluronic Serum
Look for these names in an ingredients list
sodium hyaluronate - this is the salt form of hyaluronic acid. It penetrates skin better but it binds water of up to 1000 times (as opposed to 6000 times) its weight
sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer - this is a modified form of sodium hyaluronate to allow it to work longer on the skin for enhanced hydration
How do I use hyaluronic acid
Hyaluronic acid is a rather common ingredient and you can find serums, masks and moisturisers with this ingredient. You will be able to find a higher concentration hyaluronic acid in specialised hydration serums. However, the maximum concentration that should be used is approximately 2%. At a higher concentration, the ingredient's high affinity for water may draw water back out from the skin, rather than providing hydration.
One tip for using hyaluronic acid is to use it on moist or wet skin, so to provide the water for the hyaluronic acid to "bind to". Hyaluronic acid itself without water does not provide as much benefit as it can be when used with water. After using hyaluronic acid, "seal" the moisture in with an occlusive (a moisturiser or a facial oil) to slow down the evaporation of water.