Hyaluronic Acid is a very popular ingredient in skincare products and touted to do pretty much anything, from moisturizing skin to reducing wrinkles. But is it really such a miracle worker or just another hyped-up ingredient? And what is Hyaluronic Acid anyway?
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is a substance that is naturally present in the human body and especially in skin tissue. Its function is to hold elastin and collagen together, but just like these two substances, Hylauronic Acid too depletes as we age. It derives its name from hyalos, which is Greek for glass, vitreous (Hyaluronic Acid has a glossy appearance) and uronic acid, a sugar present in Hyaluronic Acid. The type used in cosmetics can be obtained in two different ways: the most used one is bacterial fermentation but it can also be obtained from the cock’s combs (first grinded and then chemically treated). But regardless of how it was obtained, Hyaluronic Acid is non-toxic, non-irritating and non-sensitizing, making it suitable for every skin type.
Why is Hyaluronic Acid used in skincare products?
Hyaluronic Acid is a very effective humectant: that means that it has the ability to draw water from the environment into the skin, reducing water loss and keeping skin hydrated and moisturized. But compared to other humectants such as Glycerin and Urea, Hyaluronic Acid is superior for two reasons: it has a higher capacity to hold water (up to 1,000 times its weight!) and it works well in in both high and low humidity conditions.
But while this moisturizing action temporarily plumps skin reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, it can’t erase them. To permanently reduce wrinkles, Hyaluronic Acid would need to penetrate into the skin, but its molecules are too big to get past the stratum corneum and into the epidermis. So, if you come across any skincare products (especially if they are expensive) that claim that Hyaluronic Acid can do more than just moisturizing skin, beware! If you’re concerned with wrinkles, use sunscreen daily for prevention and retinoids at nights to help reduce those you already have (don’t expect miracle results overnight, retinoids work but it takes time to see some improvement).
In addition, it seems that Hyaluronic Acid can reduce skin irritation and inflammation caused by irritating skincare products and treatments which in the long run will contribute to premature aging. However, only a bunch of studies have been done on the subject and more research needs to be done to know how effective it is, and in what concentrations, at treating inflammation. So far, though, it looks promising.
Hyaluronic Acid fillers
Because Hyaluronic Acid can plump skin and reduce fine lines and wrinkles (although only temporarily when applied topically), it has become a popular ingredient in injectable dermal fillers such as Juvaderm and Restylane. However, while such fillers can make you look younger, they shouldn’t be taken lightly. Every cosmetic procedure, albeit simple, can have negative consequences.
The results may be different from what you expect so make sure, if you decide to go down this route, to have the procedure done by an experienced, qualified and well-trained dermatologist or plastic surgeon. Don’t let just anyone inject something in your face or things can go horribly wrong. In addition, remember that these fillers can be painful and will cause temporary swelling and irritation for a while afterwards. Also, those who have been on any blood medication within the last five years should not inject this drug until the five year span is over.
The Bottom Line
Hyaluronic Acid is an effective ingredient that can (and should) be used by everyone. It binds water to the skin, increasing moisture content so that skin looks plumper and wrinkles appear reduced. But that’s all it can do when applied topically. If you want more longlasting results, then you should consider derma fillers but of course, their effects will last only a few months too and they can go terribly wrong if not performed by a qualified and expert physician.
Do you use products with Hyaluronic Acid?