Hyaluronic Acid: What It Is & How It Benefits Your Skin

Hyaluronic acid is known for its ability to hydrate and plump the skin, but it’s actually capable of so much more. Commonly found in serums, sheet masks and moisturisers, it also boosts collagen and tightens the skin over time – proving it’s an all-round, essential ingredient. To find out how to use it, as well as the top formulas to try, two experts share their advice…

Hyaluronic Acid Is Vital For Hydration

“HA (hyaluronic acid) is one of the major components of our natural extracellular matrix – which put simply, is the framework our skin sits upon,” explains Daniel Isaacs, director of research at Medik8. “It’s important for maintaining a firm and supple complexion as it has a unique ability to attract and retain more than 1,000 times its own weight in water. That means it can draw moisture from the surrounding atmosphere down into the lower layers of the skin, leaving your complexion nourished and smooth.” 

It’s Not As Scary As It Sounds

“Many people see the word ‘acid’ and worry. Usually this is because they’re concerned it's an exfoliating acid, such as an alpha or beta hydroxy acid (AHA/BHA),” says consultant dermatologist and author of The Skincare Bible, Dr Anjali Mahto. “However, hyaluronic acid is in a different category and acts as a type of moisturising agent. Because of this, most skin types can and should use it without any concerns about inflammation.” 

Adding It To Your Regime Is Easy

“Most people are unsure where to use hyaluronic in their regime,” says Daniel. “While it can be used alongside active ingredients without irritation, ideally it should come afterwards. So, do your morning and evening cleanse as usual, and then apply your HA formula, as this is when your skin is most likely to absorb it.” Dr Anjali agrees: “Using an HA serum underneath your moisturiser can be helpful as well, especially if you suffer with dryness. Try to do this seasonally in the winter months to keep any reactions to harsh, cold weather at bay. For those with oily skin, you can layer it directly underneath a sunscreen (many of these come in a moisturising base) without the need for a separate cream.” 

You Can Start Using It At Any Age

“As nearly everyone can safely tolerate HA without any problems, there is no set age to start using it – just begin as and when you want to,” advises Dr Anjali. “It’s a great option for dry skin types who don’t want to apply very thick, creamy moisturisers, and those with mature skin who have found they’re suffering from dryness post-menopause.” Daniel adds: “Like collagen and elastin, natural hyaluronic acid in our skin decreases as we age, so it’s important you start using it as soon as you’re ready to. It can quickly plump fine lines and will leave your skin noticeably firmer and hydrated – at any age. What’s more, it can supercharge the rest of your skincare routine by enhancing the power of any products you layer on top. It locks onto moisture from the creams you apply, drawing water deeper into the dermis. In turn, this enhances the skin’s natural barrier, so it doesn’t lose water as quickly during the day.” 

HA Is Often Used In Injectables

“It’s not just skincare that delivers HA effectively, there are synthetic forms used in filler agents, too,” says Dr Anjali. “Synthetic HA can be injected into the skin or lips to provide volume or hydration to face. Different types of viscosity can be used depending on the area being injected, as well as the desired outcome. It’s become hugely popular as an injectable as its effects can be reversed if there are any issues. Brands such as Juvederm, Restylane and Belotero are common – and safe.” 

The Type You Choose Is Key

“When shopping for HA, look out for whether it is a low or high molecular weight,” adds Dr Anjali. “Typically, low molecular weight formulas are likely to penetrate deeper into the skin than larger-sized ones, meaning they tend to exert their effects faster.” Dan finishes: “While smaller molecules work quicker, larger ones sit on the skin as a moisture reservoir, feeding the upper layers of your dermis and blocking any water loss to the environment. So, in an ideal world, you would use the two together to distribute even hydration. Often formulas come with both, but it’s worth doing your research to check you’re getting the best weight possible.” 
 

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