What is hyaluronic acid?
You wash with a gentle cleanser, slather on moisturiser, dab on face oil … and yet you’re still fighting dry skin? If you’re struggling to keep your skin hydrated, you may want to add hyaluronic acid to your routine. Don’t let the ‘acid’ in its name put you off. It’s actually something of a miracle moisturiser.
“Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that is naturally occurring in skin and other types of human tissue,” says dermatologist, Dr Nancy Samolitis. “It has a jelly-like texture and holds over 1000 times its weight in water, therefore creating plumpness and hydration in the skin.”
When used properly, some forms of hyaluronic acid can be extremely effective for preventing water loss in dry skin.
Read on to find out what dermatologists and skin care experts want you to know about hyaluronic acid, including how it works, how to use it, and potential risks and side effects.
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How does hyaluronic acid work?
Think of hyaluronic acid as a sort of magnet, drawing water to it and making sure it doesn’t evaporate from your skin. That “makes it hydrating and effective at treating trans epidermal water loss, or dehydration,” says aesthetician, Karen Fernandez.
Although it has the word acid in it, hyaluronic acid doesn’t act like an exfoliator. “I think of hyaluronic acid like thick water serum,” says Fernandez.
Dermatologist, Dr Marisa Garshick, notes that hyaluronic acid works for anti-ageing as well as dryness. “Because hyaluronic acid helps to draw in moisture, not only is it great to help with skin hydration, but it also serves as a way to plump fine lines, wrinkles and other areas on the face with volume loss, and therefore helps to improve signs of ageing and can help give a more refreshed appearance to the skin.”
Where does hyaluronic acid show up in the body?
You’ll find hyaluronic acid throughout the body, though it’s more abundant in some areas than others.
“Hyaluronic acid is found in those areas of our body that need moisture and lubrication to function and is most common in the eyes, skin and joints,” says Dr Flora Waples. There’s a reason it’s most often associated with skin care. A huge amount of hyaluronic acid resides in the skin.
“This accounts for 50 per cent of the total body hyaluronic acid,” says Dr Garshick. “Within the skin, it can be found in the dermis and epidermis.”
The epidermis is the thinner, top layer of skin – the surface you see and feel. The dermis is the second, thicker layer of skin. This lower layer is where you make sweat and oil, grow hair and feel things.
The older you get, the more hyaluronic acid your body needs but – and here’s the big downside – the less your body makes.
“It is naturally occurring in our bodies and skin, but with age and the damaging effects of pollutants and sun, our production declines as we get older,” says Fernandez. “Using products that will deliver hyaluronic acid to the skin will help skin have the ability to attract and contain more hydration.”
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