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Let’s Talk – Hyaluronic Acid

What is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic Acid is a glycosaminoglycan, a naturally occurring substance that is part of our skin’s youth-supporting scaffolding system. Young or youthful skin, which is well hydrated, contains large amounts of hyaluronic acid or HA. However, as we get older the amounts of HA in our skin diminishes resulting in dry and deflated skin. Dry skin pronounces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, which make us look older and fatigued.

Of note, although it contains ‘acid’ in its name, it really has nothing to do with the other acids that are used in skincare, such as glycolic acid, salicylic acid or azaleic acid. In skin care products, it is usually listed as Hyaluronic Acid or HA but also look out for products containing Sodium Hyaluronate. Sodium Hyaluronate is a salt that is derived from Hyaluronic Acid. There are products on the market that contain both forms with the aim to reap the benefits on multiple levels.

What does it do to the skin?

It hydrates! It plumps! It fills! It revitalizes! It softens! It protects! Talk about a wonderful skin care ingredient. You could consider HA as a ‘drink for thirsty skin’. It is a fantastic humectant, which means it is capable to bind moisture and hydrate the skin. By hydrating the skin, it plumps the skin and helps wrinkles appear smoother. It also plays a role in inflammation and wound healing.

What is multi–Molecular Weight Hyaluronic Acid?

HA found in skin care products is not harvested from actual humans but is usually derived from bacterial or microbial fermentation. A blend of different molecular weight HA is usually used in products to optimise the hydration benefits. High molecular weight Hyaluronic Acid works well on the superficial skin. It sits on the surface attracting moisture from the atmosphere and within minutes it hydrates the skin and improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.

Low molecular weight hyaluronic acid allows deeper penetration, it gives less instant hydration, but the effects are thought to be longer lasting.

What skin type is it suitable for?

It really is a great hydrator for all skin tones and skin types. Hyaluronic Acid is incredibly gentle, which makes it a great choice for even the most sensitive, redness-prone skin. Certain fragrance-free formulas are gentle enough for those with eczema-prone and rosacea-prone skin.

A great benefit from HA is that it hydrates the skin but it does not add oil to the skin, making it also a great hydrating product for people suffering from oily skin or acne.

Most of the serums containing HA are easily absorbed, which means that it is good for people who dislike ‘sticky and heavy’ skincare products.  

How can you use it in your routine?

You can use it morning and evening, after your cleanser and before your active ingredients. You could for example use it prior to your Vitamin C serum in the morning and before your retinol containing product in the night.

Written by:  
Dr Amélie Seghers
Consultant dermatologist

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