Hyaluronic acid is one of the biggest buzzwords in the skincare industry – and for good reason. This ingredient, which is actually produced in your body naturally, is the key to smooth, flawless and hydrated skin. Did we mention that these molecules can hold up to 1000 times its weight in moisture? While it's easy to be blinded and caught up in the science and hype of the matter, today, we're here to help answer one important question – what is hyaluronic acid?
Below, we're sharing everything you need to know about hyaluronic acid; how it can benefit your skin, when and how to use it and a recommendation of our favourite products.
What is hyaluronic acid?
Hyaluronic acid, which sometimes, might appear in the ingredient list of your skincare product as HA, is a naturally-occurring sugar molecule found in our bodies. The substance works as a super magnet for moisture by binding water to collagen; and when found within our bodies, can hold 1000 times its weight in moisture. To break it down even further, a single gram of hyaluronic acid has the capacity to retain up to six litres of water. Yes, six litres.
Hyaluronic acid is predominately found in our skin, connective tissue and eyes. Where your skin is concerned, its main function is to help your cells retain and regulate as much hydration and moisture as possible – ensuring it feels and appears hydrated, plump and healthy.
It is also a humectant, which is the name for a category of skincare ingredients that are hygroscopic. In layman's terms, this means it is able to draw extra moisture from your surroundings, (yes, even the air), rather than just retaining what's already there.
Similarly to collagen and elastin, the naturally-occurring production of hyaluronic acid also slows down as we get older.
What does hyaluronic acid do for your skin?
As you would have gathered by now, hyaluronic acid is the ultimate hydration tool. Not only is it the basis of many of our favourite serums, but its benefits are also injected into many other products, especially moisturisers. Unsurprisingly, lack of moisture is one of the main culprits of ageing skin.
In addition to the product's hydrating properties, there are several other benefits to having this ingredient in your skincare routine:
- Reduces the appearance of fine lines: When your skin is hydrated, lines and wrinkles (even the deeper ones) appear diminished. And since dehydration is one of the main causes of ageing, this ingredient is extremely effective in reducing their appearance.
- Fast absorbing: Unlike some other skincare products, hyaluronic acid absorbs very quickly into the skin, which means you waste lest product.
- It's a product that everyone can use: One of the great things about this ingredient is that it's extremely safe and non-irritating. This means that it works on all skin types – even sensitive or breakout-prone skin and those with oily complexions.
- It has antioxidant properties: Recent studies have shown that hyaluronic acid has antioxidant properties; which means it it can act as a protectant against free radicals we aren't in control of, like pollution.
Can you use it everyday?
As we already mentioned, hyaluronic acid is extremely safe to use and is generally suitable for all skin types. Which is why you can definitely use it everyday. Even though the name might be off-putting, it isn't like other acids that strip or exfoliate the skin; and it doesn't require any downtime when applied topically either.
There is one very important thing to note. If you're noticing that your skin is beginning to look more dry, than hydrated, it could be because you're using the wrong hyaluronic acid. As we know, our skin has several layers, and the one loophole with this ingredient is that if it only penetrates and reaches one of those layers, it will pull all the water from above and below.
This is why it's recommended to look out for a hyaluronic acid that comprises of multiple different HA's. But more on this later...
When should I use it in my skincare routine?
Given how much good this ingredient can do for your skin, it's a surprisingly flexible hydrator; and can be applied up to twice a day. Unlike other serums or active ingredients that need to be strictly applied at morning or night; hyaluronic acid is completely benign, and generally won't interfere with your other skincare.
It's recommended that you use it first in your regime; directly onto clean, damp skin so it has the opportunity to really work its magic.
While topical hyaluronic acid is fairly easy to maintain, you can also venture into the realm of injectable and ingestible doses. All under the guidance of a doctor, of course.
Which hyaluronic acid product should I use?
Like we already mentioned, the best hyaluronic acids are those that are packed with multiple HA's of different molecular weight varieties. This assists in ensuring the product reaches all layers of the skin, not just the one; to prevent it from pulling the water from the adjacent layers of skin and dehydrating you further.
A favourite hyaluronic acid serum at RUSSH is The Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. This product combines different types of HA including low, medium and high-molecular weight varieties and the addition of vitamin B5 also enhances surface hydration. It's also extremely affordable without compromising on efficacy – which, is very rare in the world of serums.
Another cult-classic product on the pricier end of the spectrum is the Dr. Barbara Sturm Hyaluronic Serum. Similarly to The Ordinary, this product is infused with both long and short-chain hyaluronic molecules to achieve a deeper level of hydration. It is also suitable for post-sun exposure, travel, and exposure to air conditioning.