Is Hyaluronic Acid Really An Anti-Aging Miracle Molecule?
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Hyaluronic Acid Explained
It's never too early to start using an anti-aging serum, and hyaluronic acid is a great one, to begin with!
Hyaluronic acid (HA) can make your skin plumper and dewier —times ten! This gel-like molecule is found naturally in the human body but is particularly concentrated in your skin. It has a strong water-binding capacity that boosts the volume of your skin by improving hydration and elasticity. This has a plumping effect on the skin that smooths out wrinkles for a more youthful, supple appearance.
And if you think that sounds suspiciously like the results of an expensive and painful injection, in a roundabout you're right. Because hyaluronic acid is also used in injectable dermal fillers to plump the face and lips.
Which makes hyaluronic acid one of the best anti-aging ingredients for any age group or skin type.
Here's what you’re going to learn about this miracle molecule;
1. What Is Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is a hydrophilic (water-loving), gel-like molecule that naturally occurs throughout the human body. It is classed as a humectant —meaning it attracts and binds water to it like a magnet. Just one gram of hyaluronic acid can hold up to six liters of water!
Thanks to its moisture-binding abilities, hyaluronic acid is an important component of the skin, eyes, and joints. Its main function is to support the body by holding moisture within the connective tissues, helping to keep your body hydrated and lubricated.
Fifty percent of the body’s total HA is found in the skin, but as we age our levels decrease.
2. Hyaluronic Acid Benefits For Skin
The benefits of hyaluronic acid for the skin are pretty impressive, which is why it's an essential step in your anti-aging skincare routine:
IMPROVES WRINKLES: The right HA serum replaces lost hyaluronic acid and moisture. This boost in hydration increases the volume of your skin, enhancing the texture and reducing the appearance of deep wrinkles and fine lines.
PLUMPS: It plays an important role in the production of collagen, which alongside increased hydration has an instantaneous (but temporary) plumping effect on your skin.
REPAIRS THE SKIN BARRIER: Both collagen and hyaluronic acid help to replenish, strengthen and maintain a healthy skin barrier. This will ensure your skin is protected from things like dehydration and environmental damage.
IMPROVES DRY SKIN: By moisturizing from the inside out it helps the skin retain moisture levels to improve rough texture and flaky patches common in very dry skin types.
HEALS ECZEMA: Being a skin-identical ingredient (an ingredient that naturally occurs in the human body) means it won't irritate sensitive skin types and can be highly beneficial for eczema and other dermatitis-related skin conditions.
POST-CARE TREATMENT: HA serum is perfect for use after non-invasive procedures, such as microdermabrasion or micro-needling which make the skin incredibly sensitive.
ACNE-PRONE SKIN: Oily and acne-prone skin can become dehydrated too! This can happen from using (bad) skincare marketed for your skin type, such as harsh cleansers and exfoliants with a high content of alcohol and sulfates (SLS). Hyaluronic acid can rehydrate and moisturize your skin without clogging pores.
SKIN GLOW GOALS: Fun fact - dehydrated skin looks tired and dull while hydrated skin glows! Therefore, HA serum is a must for your skin glow goals. *Drinking enough water every day helps too.
3. What To Look For In A Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Hyaluronic acid can instantly improve your skin. But, not all serums are created equal. Be sure to look closely at the product’s ingredient list before you buy!
Here's how to choose a quality hyaluronic acid serum;
There are three different types of hyaluronic acid used in skincare which all work in slightly different ways according to their size and weight.
For the best results, you want a mix of all three forms. This makes for a super-hydrating powerhouse serum that will make your skin look and feel amazing. But better than that, it will improve the health of your skin on a cellular level.
Look for these names on product ingredient lists;
Sodium acetylated hyaluronate
Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid (also labeled hyaluronic acid)
'Sodium hyaluronate’ is the most important of the three, so make sure it's listed near the top of the ingredients list. This form of hyaluronic acid has the smallest molecular size, which means it is able to penetrate deeper into the skin. It gets rid of fine lines, improves deep wrinkles, and can increase skin elasticity long term. A serum with the right amount of sodium hyaluronate will create instant and noticeable results in your face.
‘Sodium acetylated hyaluronate’ is a medium-sized molecule nicknamed Super Hyaluronic Acid —because it is able to "anchor" just below the surface of your skin where it quickly increases hydration and improves elasticity. It can keep your skin moisturized for longer periods of time (up to 12 hours).
‘Hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid’ is a bigger molecule that works on the skin’s surface. This form of hyaluronic acid helps to moisturize the outer layer making your skin look super-hydrated and plumped. But, it’s a short-term effect.
4. What Percentage Of Hyaluronic Acid Should I Use?
When it comes to the formulation of hyaluronic acid serum, balance is key. If the concentration is too low it won't be fully effective in hydrating your skin. But, if it's too high hyaluronic acid can have a bad side effect on your skin.
Kerry Benjamin, esthetician and founder of Stacked Skincare, claims that “solutions with more than 4% sodium hyaluronate can dry the skin out”. This is because it will actually draw water from your skin —defeating the purpose of a hydrating serum!
HA serum needs to be well-balanced in order for the hyaluronic acid to pull the water molecules from the formula, and not your skin.
Benjamin says 2% is the highest concentration of hyaluronic acid you can put in a solution without any drying effects.
HA serum can be formulated with hyaluronic acid alone, or it may contain other ingredients too. Some ingredients that mix well with hyaluronic acid: niacinamide, vitamin C, kojic acid, licorice extract, and green tea.
5. How To Use Hyaluronic Acid Serum In Your Routine
Because humectants attract water it’s always best to apply HA serum on damp skin. Apply three to four drops on a freshly cleansed face, directly after toner or facial mist while your skin is still slightly damp. It can be used in both your morning and evening routine. HA serum is suitable for all ages and skin types, but it is especially beneficial for those with dry, damaged, and dehydrated skin.
8 best 'clean beauty' picks hyaluronic acid serum
I've done the work for you!
To save you sifting through product ingredient lists I've done the work for you. These hyaluronic acid serums are considered 'clean beauty' formulas. This means that they are all formulated without known irritants such as parabens, phthalates, PEGs, ethanolamines, synthetic fragrances, BHT, and BHA.
This anti-aging serum contains Vitamins A and C to help fight free radicals. It improves skin hydration, texture and moisturizes skin.
Buy on Amazon UK
My number one pick due to the fact that it is affordable and contains all three forms of hyaluronic acid. This 98% natural serum is suitable for dry and sensitive skin types thanks to Aloe vera, Chamomile water, and Yarrow which soothe sore, irritated skin while also reducing redness.
Osea - Hyaluronic Sea Serum
Buy from Amazon US
Another serum that offers all three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid plus three organic seaweeds to provide long-lasting hydration. It gives your skin antioxidant protection and boosts skin with vitamins and minerals.
A lightweight hydrating serum that infuses hyaluronic acid, glycerin, electrolytes, niacinamide, pro-vitamin B5, MSM, horse chestnut, oat ceramides to repair the lipid barrier, prevent water loss, and work in synergy to significantly calm the skin.
Madara SOS Hydra Repair Intensive Serum
Thanks to powerful antioxidants this hyaluronic acid serum is scientifically proven to plump, hydrate, and protect the skin from free radical damage. It restores moisture and is a good solution for oily but dehydrated skin. It contains northern peony (antioxidants), linseed polysaccharides (humectant), and beetroot betaine.
The Organic Pharmacy Hyaluronic Acid Serum
This serum is the simplest one out of them all and doesn't contain any other enriching ingredients. But it does have triple weight (small, medium, and large) molecule hyaluronic acid.
Click for more recommended HA serums