What is hyaluronic acid and why is it in so many skin care products?
In recent years, this water-attracting ingredient has gained enormous popularity in both externally applied and injectable products, and is even found as a food supplement. Although hyaluronic acid seems complicated and difficult to pronounce, it is a very common ingredient in skin care products such as serums, moisturisers, masks, face and body creams, because it is an important and absolutely essential part of your skin care routine. This is because hyaluronic acid (HA) is a molecule that is already naturally present in our body and skin. It attracts water and makes our skin look smooth, hydrated, plump and radiant.
What is hyaluronic acid?
It is a sugar molecule (polysaccharide) naturally found in our tissues. It helps to attract and hold water in the skin, and it participates in the synthesis of collagen and elastin, protecting the skin from free radicals. In the body, it is naturally found in the eyes, cartilage, joints, but mainly in the skin. HA is able to attract more than 1000 times its own weight in moisture.
However, over time our bodies stop producing enough HA, which is one of the causes of skin ageing. From the age of 25, the body's production of HA slows down, and by the age of 50, it is twice as low as in youth. As a result, our skin is more susceptible to dehydration, it loses moisture significantly, its protective barrier can be damaged and, in general, it looks dull, fragile, with a greyish skin tone and wrinkles.
What are the main benefits of HA?
- It slows down ageing;
- it moisturises the skin;
- it helps to heal wounds;
- it reduces wrinkles;
- it improves skin elasticity;
- it can help treat eczema;
- it can help reduce facial redness;
- it reduces transepidermal water loss;
- it can prevent acne scarring and hyperpigmentation.
Who should use it?
HA-containing cosmetics are suitable for all ages and all skin types, as everyone needs hydration. Nowadays there is a wide range of products available: creams, serums, ampoules, lotions, toners, milks, masks, etc. But which product is the best? What matters is not the type of product, but its composition and the size of the HA molecule contained in the product. The key words to look for in a product are:
- hydrolysed hyaluronic acid;
- sodium acetylated hyaluronate;
- sodium hyaluronate.
The effect of HA varies according to the size of its molecule. If the molecule is large, it acts superficially on the skin and provides immediate intense hydration, it smooths the skin surface and firms it, and it helps to maintain the skin's protective barrier in its normal state. On the other hand, HA with a smaller molecular weight penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin and provides maximum hydration and is able to rehydrate the skin over time. For the chosen skincare product to deliver the desired results, it is important that it contains different types of molecules and that the concentration of HA is no more than 2%. It is also useful if the product contains vitamin C, vitamin B5 or glycolic acid - these ingredients work well together with HA.
Most HA products can be taken twice a day: morning and evening. If you have chosen to use an HA serum (which is recognised as the most effective externally applied product containing HA), apply it to the skin after washing and toning. During the day, you should follow the serum with a cream and SPF cream, and at night, a regenerating cream or another cream that suits your skin's needs. Most people feel an immediate effect when using HA-containing products, leaving skin soft and hydrated, but as with any skincare product, it takes several weeks to see full results.
I hope you found this article useful and that next time you go to the store, it will be easier to navigate through the range of products.
Author: cosmetologist Kristiana Schnepste @kristiana.snepste
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