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Hyaluronic acid: benefits for skin

It seems that almost every skincare ingredient, at one point or another, has its "moment"—when it’s the latest or hottest thing available. That’s certainly the case right now with hyaluronic acid, with its benefits touted in numerous beauty magazines and skincare ads. As you might suspect, and as we’ve told you in many reviews and articles, some of these trendy ingredients are more hype than actual results, but hyaluronic acid’s fame is well-earned. It is packed with benefits, and can benefit all skin types, especially skin showing signs of ageing.

In This Article:

How Does Hyaluronic Acid Work?

Scientifically speaking, hyaluronic acid (also known as hyaluronan) is a glycosaminoglycan, a type of molecule composed partly of sugars. Hyaluronic acid is actually a natural structural component of skin, and, in fact, is present in connective tissue throughout the human body.

So why is hyaluronic acid such a big deal? The magic of this ingredient lies in its ability to retain moisture; it’s considered to have a greater capacity to hold moisture than any other natural or synthetic polymer. In fact, one gram of hyaluronic acid is able to hold up to six liters of water!

This is important with regard to ageing because one of the hallmarks of youthful skin is its moisture content. As we age, our skin loses moisture, resulting in a loss of firmness and pliability.

Note: This does not mean that everyone’s skin becomes dry with age; it simply means that skin lacks the amount of moisture it had in its youth due to sun damage and/or other factors. Without question, you can still have oily skin in your 60s (perhaps just not as oily as it was in your 20s)!

Hyaluronic acid can improve your skin’s moisture content and at the same time strengthen skin’s barrier; that is, the outer layers of your skin. A healthy barrier looks and feels softer, smoother, and plumper—all hallmarks of younger-looking skin! But, with hyaluronic acid, that’s not all you get—there are many additional benefits beyond just a more youthful appearance.

We know that just about everything, from sun damage and acne to sensitive skin and rosacea, can lead to a damaged barrier, so repairing skin’s barrier with skin-identical ingredients, like hyaluronic acid (as detailed in this article), can go a long way toward fixing, or at least minimising, those issues, which means it’s helpful for all skin types. Its lightweight texture isn’t an issue for oily skin, and it’s gentle enough that it isn’t a problem for sensitive skin. Hyaluronic acid is also safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

Even better: Hyaluronic acid also provides antioxidant defense against free-radical damage, and reduces inflammation. Now that’s what we call a multitasking anti-ageing ingredient!

Adding Hyaluronic Acid to Your Routine

Now that you know how hyaluronic acid benefit skin, you might be wondering how to add this ingredient to your skincare routine. The great part is that doing so is very simple! As you’ve probably seen, both in drugstores and in department stores, more and more brands are using hyaluronic acid and its derivatives in their products. It’s as simple as checking out the ingredients on the label to see what’s included—and making sure they’re not listed near the very end of the list, in which case it means the product doesn’t contain much, and so you may not see much benefit.

Most products containing hyaluronic acid fall into the moisturiser or serum category. The important thing to keep in mind is that even if a product does contain hyaluronic acid, you must pay attention to the other ingredients as well. So, as we say many, many times, steer clear of irritating fragrance ingredients, drying alcohols, and fragrant plant oils that could undo the great work hyaluronic acid can do for your skin!

If you’ve already found your perfect moisturiser, and it doesn’t contain hyaluronic acid, you can always use a product like Paula’s Choice Resist Hyaluronic Acid Booster, which you can add to your moisturiser or serum for an extra boost of wrinkle-smoothing hydration and plumping of fine lines!

Hyaluronic Acid Results

Because hyaluronic acid adds moisture to the skin, and helps it retain that moisture, from skin’s uppermost layers down to its dermis layer, it can have the effect of temporarily plumping wrinkles and fine lines (adding moisture to the skin always does that, but this ingredient supercharges the process).

Topically applied, hyaluronic acid cannot have the same impact on your appearance as dermal fillers, despite the advertising from some cosmetics brands, which imply that it can serve as a substitute for fillers. This doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful for wrinkles; it’s simply that injecting dermal fillers goes beyond what topical application of anything can do in terms of filling deep wrinkles.

When it comes to skincare, hyaluronic acid, when applied topically, can improve the appearance of fine lines, promote younger-looking skin, and help create a healthy skin barrier that can address a number of skin concerns. When these ingredients are combined with an anti-ageing, skin-smoothing routine that includes gentle products and daily broad-spectrum sun protection, you’ll be ahead of the game when it comes to using skincare products to look younger longer (and help repair past damage)!

Sources: International Journal of Toxicology, July/August 2009, (Dermatoendorocronology, 2012), Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 2012 & Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, 2012.

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