If you haven’t heard of Hyaluronic Acid yet, then firstly, where’ve you been? A popular hydrating ingredient that can be found in many skincare products today, Hyaluronic Acid has developed a cult following but it's so much more than that!
In the world of beauty and facial skincare, there are thousands of skincare ingredients and products to choose from. Now, it’s not nice to play favourites but there’s no doubt that everyone has their own soft spot for certain skincare ingredients, right?
Over the years, I’ve painstakingly experimented with different products and active ingredients in order to build my own customised skincare routine that works specifically for me. And although I love all of the skincare products in my routine - they work for me in one way or another - all of my top picks have one thing in common, Hyaluronic Acid!
Now, you might be wondering, what’s so special about Hyaluronic Acid that makes it so popular with everyone? It is one of the few enduring skincare ingredients that is genuinely and almost universally loved by all people regardless of their skin type, skin concerns, gender and age. Read on as we take a look at what makes Hyaluronic Acid such a skincare favourite!
Firstly, What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
The word “acid” to most lay people brings to mind something that’s corrosive but Hyaluronic Acid isn't the stripping stuff we often associate with "acids". Commonly abbreviated as “HA”, Hyaluronic Acid is a naturally occurring molecule found throughout almost every fluid and tissue in our bodies, but primarily in the skin, eyes, and joints.
Naturally produced by our body, it is crucial in retaining the moisture and elasticity of our skin by attracting and retaining moisture to it and preventing it from evaporating. Unfortunately, as we age our ability to produce HA naturally slowly degrades and the concentration and molecular weight of Hyaluronic Acid in our body, and skin, substantially decreases just like with collagen.
Thankfully, there are other ways to get Hyaluronic Acid in our bodies or to stimulate Hyaluronic Acid production in our bodies. “Having a diet filled with fruits and veggies that have lots of antioxidants in it is one way to retain it” advises Dr. Howard D. Sobel, a board-certified dermatologist from New York City.
But ageing isn’t the only reason why your skin might lack healthy levels of Hyaluronic Acid. Underlying skin conditions, such as acne or eczema, can also cause tiny breaks in the skin’s protective barrier allowing moisture to escape resulting in dry, dull or lifeless looking skin.
Creating a basic skin care regimen with products that contain Hyaluronic Acid can help you maintain a healthy level of the stuff and can be especially beneficial if your skin is subject to extreme conditions such as long hours under the sun, air-conditioned environments, or if you are suffering from some underlying skin condition like eczema. Here are 5 reasons why you should be using Hyaluronic Acid today.
01 Intense Hydration
Hyaluronic acid is known for its powerful moisturising properties. Otherwise called the “molecular sponge” due to its high water-loving properties, is a gentle and non-irritating cosmetic ingredient that is suitable for even the most sensitive of skin types.
Its molecules attract and retain water more than 1,000 times their own weight, and it is one of the most powerful moisturisers out there. It penetrates the skin and binds water to skin cells, infusing all layers of the skin with valuable, rejuvenating moisture.
“Because of its ability to draw and hold water, it can be used as a humectant in your skin care regimen,” says Dr. Rachel Nazarian, a dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in New York City.
02 Regulates Sebum Production
For those with oily skin type out there, if you still haven't heard, Hyaluronic Acid may be the one skincare ingredient you’re searching for to aid with your greasy and glossy skin. It’s especially useful if you're in a hot but humid climate like Singapore!
Sebum overproduction is usually caused by the lack of moisture in your skin. To make up for the lack of moisture in your skin, your oil glands would have to work on overdrive and in turn produce more than the amount of oil needed for hydration.
As this ingredient provides intense hydration and moisture for our skin, it would train our skin to again produce just the right amount of oil needed. Not more, not less. As Hyaluronic acid is also lightweight and non-comedogenic, it can be used even in the most humid of weather.
03 Stimulates Collagen
No one wants saggy skin. Ever. As we age, our skin loses its firm, plumpness or snap. One quick trick to check if your skin still has it’s natural bounceback is to pinch the skin on the top of your hand.
If it snaps back quickly, you still have a lot of elastin. As you age, the skin won’t bounce back as quickly. Next time you visit your mother or grandmother, try the test on them. This is partly due to a loss of collagen. Collagen is a major component of our skin that plays a role in strengthening our skin’s elasticity and hydration.
Studies have shown that products with Hyaluronic acid incorporated inside have proven to stimulate collagen in the skin by as high as 21 percent. As a result, it promotes skin’s firmness and reduces visible signs of premature aging.
04 Reduces Fine Lines
Hyaluronic Acid is the key to instantly plumping fine lines and making skin look glowy. As it fills the skin with moisture, Hyaluronic Acid tightens the overall complexion helping to firm facial contours for a more youthful appearance. This means saying bye to your wrinkles and fine lines.
Environmental stressors and UV exposure would lead our skin to form wrinkles. However, when our skin is protected from these stressors and is properly hydrated, increased skin cell production can take place. This leads to smoother, plumper skin cells.
There has been a study conducted in 2014 which involved women applying Hyaluronic acid topically, twice daily, for 8 weeks. The findings from this study reported a staggering 40% decrease in the depth of wrinkles compared with participants who did not apply the acid.
05 Treats Dark Spots
When there is increased cell turnover, Hyaluronic Acid also helps with skin concerns like reducing and preventing age spots and pigmentation. However, as Hyaluronic Acid mainly aids in giving and retaining moisture, it may not be enough to reduce pigmentation in your skin.
Thus, by pairing it with a brightening skincare ingredient like Vitamin C serums, it would boost effectiveness in treating dark spots. But, you must also prevent the root cause of dark spots from happening too. Afterall, prevention is better than using treatments.
Dark spots are usually caused by a difference in melanin levels. An overproduction of melanin that results in unusually high melanin levels are caused mainly to sun damage or injury to the skin. Hence, always wear an SPF of at least 30 on a daily basis. Even on the days when you’re not out and about.
Which Skin Type Is Suitable To Use Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic Acid is great for all skin types. This is due to it’s non-irritating and non-inflammatory nature which does not trigger acne, rosacea, or allergic skin reactions. However, there might be a small chance of adverse side effects so you should try patch testing before applying it on your face.
Although it works on all skin types, oily and mature skin would benefit the most due to its hydrating and anti-ageing properties. As we age, our bodies produce less of it, and so replacing the Hyaluronic Acid in our skin is essential. Applying Hyaluronic Acid topically is not only easy but also delivers it directly to your skin and will make the most impact on those of us who are middle-aged and older.
Limitations on Hyaluronic Acid
However with all these benefits kept in mind, Hyaluronic acid used incorrectly can also dehydrate your skin. As a powerful humectant, Hyaluronic Acid attracts water molecules to itself and needs water to plump, but without any moisture on the surface of your skin or from the air, it will pull the water from deeper within your skin to the surface where it is applied and evaporate.
You should always apply your skincare treatments to damp skin and Hyaluronic Acid is really no different. Dry skin, especially those that are bone dry, does not absorb active ingredients as well as slightly damp skin. Humectants like Hyaluronic Acid also need some moisture around it in order for it to do its job. So for the best results, always use a moisturising toner before your Hyaluronic Acid treatments and do not completely dry your skin before applying.
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About the writer
Linn Let Min, a girl born in Myanmar but raised in Singapore. She makes it her mission to embark on a new adventure every day and not to waste her youth. Her motto in life would be to "live in the moment, think later".