Hyaluronic Acid is without a doubt one of the most common and widely touted skin care ingredients on the market. But it, like any ingredient, needs to be understood so that you can shop wisely and not be taken-in by false advertising. As much as I love skin care, the industry itself needs to be navigated with a good deal of knowledge and healthy skepticism, much like shopping from the corner miracle-worker. (No, one drop of that green goo will not take 20 years off your eyeballs (and other crazy notions).)
With that in mind, what do you need to know to be a savvy shopper? In this article, we will look at what hyaluronic acid is, what it does, what to beware of, how to use it, and what products I recommend without breaking the bank.
- WHAT IT IS: HA (hyaluronic acid) is a glycosaminoglycan molecule that moisturizes the skin, reduces the appearance of wrinkles, replenishes cell moisture, speeds wound healing, and holds 1000 times it’s weight in water.
- WHO SHOULD USE IT: HA is safe for all skin types and is especially helpful for dry skin. If you have rosacea or eczema, be sure to test patch HA against irritation
- WHEN YOU CAN USE HA: HA can be used twice a day topically morning and night under your skin care routine, but ingestible HA should be used with caution and potentially with the help of a doctor.
- SIDE EFFECTS: There are no known negative reactions to HA
- KEY INGREDIENTS: Hyaluronic acid is a alpha-hydroxy acid that helps stimulate collagen production and attract moisture to the skin.
What is Hyaluronic Acid?
HA is a molecule found naturally in your skin and connective tissue and acts as a lubricating agent for joints nerves, hair, skin and eyes. In simple terms, it is a superstar in alleviating dry skin by binding moisture together which makes skin look “plump”. It holds almost 1000 times it’s weight in water so it helps skin hold extra moisture from the air and topical applications of products. Because of this, if you live in a very dry climate HA may not be as effective.
What are the Benefits of Using Hyaluronic Acid?
One of the main culprits of ageing is dry skin. HA has a seemingly magical ability to retain moisture which makes it a must-have when repairing the skins moisture barrier. It absorbs quickly into the skin, plumping up fine lines and wrinkles. It is easily accessible and available over the counter.
Hyaluronic Acid vs Sodium Hyaluronate
A basic understanding of ingredients in skin care is vitally important, otherwise that corner miracle-worker will promise you eternal youth in exchange for your first born. And I don’t care what anyone says, I’m not giving up my first born. With that in mind, let’s talk about sodium hyaluronate. Most people lump hyaluronic acid and sodium hyaluronate in the same bundle, but in fact sodium hyaluronate is used much more in skin care with better results Sodium hyaluronate is the water-soluble, salt form of HA that holds 1000 times it’s weight in water. Why is this important? Because in an ingredient deck sodium hyaluronate rather than hyaluronic acid might be referenced as it is more stable and does not oxidize as easily.
How much HA should you look for in products? In skin care, the lower the molecule weight and size, the better it penetrates the skin. Sodium hyaluronate has a much smaller molecular size and therefore penetrates the skin more easily than hyaluronic acid. Having said that, beware of companies that advertise 75% or even 99% HA in products. If that were the case, the product would be a lump of salt! In fact, both ingredients come as 1% to 2% of the total solution which is mainly composed of water.
If a solution has more than 4% sodium hyaluronate it can dry the skin out. To complicate matters with those misleading percentages, there is no real way to know how much is used in a product unless you took it to a chemist, which holds the same possibility as giving up your first born to the miracle worker.
How to Use and Apply Hyaluronic Acid
HA can be used once or twice daily, and should be applied to freshly cleaned skin under your moisturizer. If you use other products like vitamin C serum or retinol, the order doesn’t matter, just use moisturizer last.
What Brands of Hyaluronic Acid Should You Use?
The Ordinary Hyaluronc Acid 2% + B5 30ml is an inexpensive way to start using this wonderful ingredient. This serum has a vegan formula with a hint of B5 for more moisture retention and inflammatory benefits.
Truth Treatments Hyaluronic Mineral Hydrator costs a little more because it contains high levels of vitamin c and polyelectrolytes along with the hyaluronic acid that penetrate to the stratum corneum level in the skin. For intense cell hydration, this is a powerhouse.
I’m a huge fan of positive ageing and not trusting the false claims of the corner miracle worker or surrendering too much money or life (like your first born) to meet some crazy standard of unreachable beauty. Having said that, affordable ingredients like hyaluronic acid can add that extra boost we love without breaking the bank.