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Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a naturally occurring glycosaminoglycan found throughout the body’s connective tissue. Glycosaminoglycans are simply long unbranched carbohydrates, or sugars, called polysaccharides.
What’s hyaluronic acid?
HA is the main component of what gives your skin structure and is responsible for that plump and hydrated look. You may have heard the chatter around collagen, but hyaluronic acid is where it’s at, says Dr. Ailynne Marie Vergara-Wijangco MD. Dermatologist, Thank Your Skin.
She further added, that “with the buzz around anti-aging, it’s about time we talk about hyaluronic acid, its benefits for our skin, and why the molecular weight of an ingredient is important”! It plays a pivotal role in the wound healing process. It decreases as our age makes us more susceptible to sagging and wrinkles.
Why is it good for the skin?
When found in skincare products, hyaluronic acid can come from synthetic or natural origins. Because it is a powerful humectant, hyaluronic acid is a great topical hydrator, as long as either the environment is humid or you combine it with emollients and occlusives to lock in the hydration, so it doesn’t pull water out of the skin, according to NYC Dermatologist Dr. Hadley King.
What are the benefits of hyaluronic acid?
- wound healing
- increases skin elasticity
- can treat eczema
- can treat facial redness
Why’s hyaluronic acid so magical?
For starters, HA can bind up to 1000 times its weight in water! In other words, it functions as a humectant and holds water molecules onto the surface of your skin to keep it nice and hydrated. Anytime we’re talking about skin that’s well-moisturized, we’re mainly referring to skin that has a lot of water content. Perhaps you’ve heard the term transepidermal water loss, or TEWL for short? This is the scientific term for the measurement of how much water is evaporated from the skin. When a product prevents TEWL, that means it’s keeping your skin hydrated by making sure that water doesn’t escape from your skin’s surface. Hyaluronic acid does exactly that by slowing the rate at which the water evaporates. Apart from being a very effective hydrator, a couple of studies have also found that it’s very good for healing wounds, too!
Are there side effects to using hyaluronic acid?
If you’re formulating your products or purchasing HA products that list the percentage, we recommend keeping the HA concentration below 2 percent. Why? A very low molecular weight of 5 kDa HA can penetrate the skin’s trusted source, which means it can potentially carry other unwanted ingredients, chemicals, and bacteria more deeply into the skin. If you have compromised skin, this might be bad news. Thankfully, on its own, HA tends not to cause allergic reactions since our bodies also make it.
Fortunately, cosmetic chemists have this science down, so we can defer to their expertise and what people say about certain HA products. But if you’re formulating your HA serums, know that not all hyaluronic acid is an equal trustee source. This holy grail of hydration may have unintended side effects. There are some varieties of HA that are a bit controversial, and increased levels are linked to inflammatory skin diseases like psoriasis. One study found that an application of HA slowed down wound healing compared to just pure glycerin. Yikes! This may have been because of the concentration and molecular weight of the hyaluronic acid.
What’s the science behind hyaluronic acid?
The benefits of hyaluronic acid on the skin have to do with its molecular weight and concentration. In this case, size matters! The molecular weight refers to its mass, or how big the HA molecule is. This is measured in something called unified atomic mass units — daltons, or kDa for short. According to the most recent human studies, HA between 50 to 1,000 kDa is the most beneficial for skin, with about 130 kDa being the best. Anything higher won’t make too much of a difference. Anything lower might cause inflammation.
How did we get this number?
When you look at studies, you’ll see a pattern, but one of the most thorough studies looked at HA with different molecular weights, including 50, 130, 300, 800, and 2,000 kDa. After one month, they found that treatment with 130 kDa HA was the most effective, increasing skin elasticity by 20 percent. Both the 50 and 130 kDa groups had significant improvement in wrinkle-depth and skin roughness after 60 days. All the other molecular weights still improved elasticity and skin hydration, just less so. You can read more about this molecular weight analysis from the original breakdown here.
What products should you use?
There are skincare products out there that take away all the guesswork for you by combining various HA molecules for maximum effectiveness. It’s like a jam-packed party of hyaluronic acid-y goodness.
HA ingredients to look for
- hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid
- sodium acetylated hyaluronate
- sodium hyaluronate
The Best Dermatologist Approved Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer
OLAY Regenerist Hydration Facial Moisturizer
This doesn’t disappoint those after dewy and glowy skin as it tackles redness, fine lines, and dry spots. It’s also fragrance-free and fast-absorbing, so those sensitive to smells will have no problem with this product.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2%
Hyaluronic Acid is 2% + B5 Serum, as it works to hydrate the skin. So, if your skin is dehydrated, tired, and in need of a pick me up. This serum is a must-have.
It’s best to use this Hyaluronic Acid Serum in the morning and at night before bed. You only need a few drops each time.
All products of this beauty brand are cruelty-free. The majority are vegan too. Plus all of their serums come in recyclable glass bottles too. Making your skincare regime a little bit more Eco-friendly as well.
SkinMedica HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator
The most consistent over-the-counter hyaluronic acid serum. It has five different types of hyaluronic acid. And it hydrates the skin without making it sticky. In addition to delivering up to eight hours of hydration, the highly-rated serum combines collagen-boosting peptides and antioxidant-rich vitamin E to minimize the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. It goes on smoothly and makes a difference. It amazingly hydrates the skin without making it sticky. Your skin starts to glow and feels healthier. Highly recommend. It’s a splurge, but worth it.
Hyaluronic Acid with EGF, Oatmeal & Ginger Root Extract
Say Goodbye to tired, dry, and irritated skin with this Hyaluronic Acid, EGF, Oatmeal & Ginger Root Soothing Serum. The secret is in the hyaluronic acid, which gives your skin a generous, deep boost of moisture while smoothing away the appearance of fine lines. This brand has included EGF, oatmeal, and ginger root extracts to calm stressed skin and promote collagen-protecting activities, leaving your skin soothed and fresh. EGF has strong anti-aging properties that work to heal the skin and diminish the appearance of scars. In addition, hemp oil’s natural anti-inflammatory properties help calm any redness, bringing relief to blemished skin. This serum is a beautiful all-rounder for flawless, glowing skin.
Aesthetic Hydration Cosmetics Face Cream Aqualuronic Hydrating Triple Hyaluronic Acid
AHC’s Aqualuronic Face Cream is an ultra-hydrating face cream rich in ceramides and hyaluronic acid. The refreshingly light, gel-textured moisturizer is designed to offer 24-hour hydration to keep skin extra glowy. The cream is infused with Tripe Hyaluronic Acid, French Seawater, and Ceramides to combat dry and tired-looking skin. Additionally, the cream is crafted with three molecular weights of Hyaluronic Acid to penetrate different layers of the skin while sealing in moisture to keep the skin extra hydrated. Plus, it’s clinically proven to leave skin looking dewy and glassy after just one use.
Elina Organics Elite Rejuvenating Cream
This moisturizer is enriched with copper peptides, vegan hyaluronic acid, green amber, pomegranate, and fine organic botanical ingredients to hydrate, brighten, and firm your skin.
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Gel-Cream Face Moisturizer
Hyaluronic acid is one of the most important ingredients in hydrating products. They rank among one of the best ways to keep your skin moisturized. One of the best-selling moisturizers on the market, Neutrogena Hydro Boost Hyaluronic Acid Gel-Cream, is a cult favorite that capitalizes on the famous acid. It comes in a gel consistency that agrees with oily skin, which still needs hydration but reacts badly to too much oil. Users have noted how effective its moisturization is because of the addition of hyaluronic acid, plus it’s versatile for all kinds of skin types. Another highlight is its affordability due to being a drugstore skincare product that will save you a lot of money but still bringing value.
CeraVe Moisturizing Cream
Cerave Moisturizing Cream. This is a great moisturizer choice. It contains hyaluronic acid, which is a powerful humectant for hydrating the skin, as well as ceramides to lock in that moisture and restore and protect the skin barrier.
It’s non-comedogenic so it won’t clog pores and contribute to acne, and its skin barrier- nourishing ingredients help to protect the skin from the potentially irritating effects of anti-acne medications.
ISDIN Hyaluronic Booster Deep Hydration with Peptide Serum Ampoules
Isdinceutics Flavo-C Ultraglican Ampoules. Although primarily a vitamin C product, the hyaluronic acid in this serum adds to its appeal. The sealed tinted glass ampules protect the vitamin C from exposure to air and light. And the addition of hyaluronic acid and proteoglycans makes the formulation very hydrating. The texture is light and the subtle fragrance is clean and refreshing.
DONGINBI: Hydra Bounce
With this Korean face moisturizer collection, you can wake up to shiny, transparent skin. All three products contain Red Ginseng and Hyaluronic Acid, which help to revive dry, irritated, and tired skin. Throughout the day, this cold water-based face toner and freshwater gel face lotion refresh and hydrate your skin, leaving it feeling fresh and bright. This premium skincare kit contains components that have been carefully selected for maximum moisturization. It absorbs fast and leaves your skin with a long-lasting moisture barrier layer.
Cetaphil Face Moisturizer
It hydrates and locks in moisture for 24 hours, protecting skin from dryness. The hyaluronic acid and rich moisturizing compounds give long-lasting hydration. A non-greasy moisturizer will not clog your pores. It has been clinically tested to be gentle for sensitive and combination skin types.
The A Method Hydrate HA Elixir by Tina Alster
Skin dehydration can occur at any moment, particularly following non-invasive procedures. Hyaluronic acid in Tina Alster, MD’s Hydrate HA Elixir hydrates the skin, restoring balance and minimizing dryness.
Hyaluronic acid is available in two forms, both of which help to bind water to the skin and keep it hydrated. This moderate, easy-to-use formula aids in the rehydration of skin following any non-invasive procedure. Smoothes and plumps the appearance of the skin to help reduce the signs of aging. It promotes smooth, soft, and supple skin thanks to its concentrated moisturizing effect. It helps to alleviate dryness brought on by climate or environmental changes.
Earth Harbor | MERMAID MILK Nutrient Glow Moisturizer
A plant-based moisturizer that moisturizes and balances skin without leaving it feeling oily. Moisturizes and replenishes, primes, and balances skin that is dehydrated and dull; a lack of essential vitamins and nutrients; and skin that is red and blotchy.
Hada Labo Tokyo Skin Plumping Gel Cream 1.76 Fl Oz
To create a stunning smooth gel-cream, the skin-plumping gel cream combines the skin-perfecting power of an anti-aging serum with the deep hydration of a moisturizer. Its high concentration of super Hyaluronic Acid moisturizes skin for hours, plumping fine lines and wrinkles for a younger-looking complexion. This is an anti-aging product that everyone should have. This non-greasy, non-comedogenic gel-cream is fragrance-free, paraben-free, dye-free, and mineral oil-free and is suitable for all skin types.
Pure Hyaluronic Acid 1% Powder Serum for Face
Hyaluronic acid is a natural moisturizer that makes your skin smoother and softer. You might look a few years younger if you apply it twice an afternoon for a few weeks. Baby pores and skin are especially fragile because they contain so much hyaluronic acid. You may restore some of that young glow and smoothness by putting hyaluronic acid into your skin. Humans produce hyaluronic acid, which is a fully safe acid. The wonderful thing about hyaluronic acid is that it improves the appearance of all skin types, whether they are dry, oily, or somewhere in the middle. It moisturizes dry skin without blocking pores or making the skin oily. Anyone can make use of it.
PCA SKIN Hydrating Serum
Dry skin gets hydrated and nourished with this ultra-lightweight serum. The skin’s ability to attract and retain moisture is aided by niacinamide and sodium hyaluronate. It is necessary for dry skin, but it is also beneficial to many skin types. The skin gets hydrated and softened with this serum. Moisture levels are increased while irritation is reduced. For a skin boost, apply to the face and neck after cleansing and throughout the day. During the day, use a PCA SKIN broad spectrum SPF product and at night, use a PCA SKIN moisturizer.
Jan Marini Skin Research Hyla3D HA Activating Complex
Restore hydration while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles for a more youthful, contoured appearance. HA is available in several forms, all of which give deep, long-lasting hydration. The skin’s HA levels can be increased with the use of advanced technologies. Give it a good shake before using. In the morning and evening, apply sparingly to the entire face and neck.
The bottom line is to keep your skin looking and feeling its best, you need to hydrate it, and hyaluronic acid is one of the simplest ways to do just that. It is easy to use, with a low chance of side effects, and available in a range of product formats. This is a skincare ingredient that works for everyone.