What is Hyaluronic Acid & is it Good for the Skin?
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Hyaluronic acid has gained a lot of currency in recent years – this is a term that seems to get thrown around a lot. Hyaluronic acid has become a common ingredient in facial serums and other beauty products. But what is hyaluronic acid exactly and what does it do to the skin? Let’s take look at this superstar of the beauty industry.
What is Hyaluronic Acid Exactly?
Hyaluronic is a naturally-occurring sugar molecule that is found normally in human skin, as well as the joints, eyes and connective tissue. It works to soak in moisture from the surrounding air and deliver it to the skin on your face and other parts of the body, keeping everything cushioned and lubricated.
In this way it effectively acts like a sponge, and is able to soak up to 1000 times its weight in water. This molecule is therefore vital for youthful-looking skin by keeping the skin moist and reducing the appearance of lines and other signs of ageing.
The word “acid” in the name may make you think that this is a harsh chemical. It is, however, a type of carbohydrate called a polysaccharide. It is a naturally occurring molecule that gently hydrates human tissues and is no way harmful or abrasive.
Hyaluronic acid is also known by other names, including sodium hyaluronate acid. The latter is a salt form of hyaluronic acid and is a synthetic version of the molecule that is naturally produced by the body.
This water-retaining ability makes hyaluronic acid a common ingredient in many skin care and beauty products. It is also frequently found in fillers, such as lip injections, because of its ability to bind with water molecules and therefore make the skin look plump.
It can also be found in dietary supplements and used to treat health conditions related to age.
Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic acid is an extremely effective hydrator, and can greatly improve the hydration properties of skin care products. Products that contain hyaluronic acid hold onto moisture and hydrate the skin more efficiently.
This helps the skin to achieve and more moist, plumper appearance and hydrate dry skin. Not only does this make the skin softer and more lush, but manufacturers claim that with regular use over time it can help to reduce fine lines and minimise the signs of ageing.
Studies have supported hyaluronic acid’s ability to improve the tone of the skin and reduce wrinkles and fine lines. One study found that treatment with hyaluronic acid reduced the depth and volume of wrinkles and boosted the skin’s luster and suppleness.
Another study found that hyaluronic acid supplements combined with biotin, vitamin C, copper and zinc had positive impacts on skin elasticity, texture and moisture, as well as reduced wrinkle depth and improved skin hydration in women aged between 45 and 60 years old.
Along with the beauty benefits, hyaluronic acid is also beneficial to general health. For example, it can help to treat and manage joint pain, though not when applied topically as a cream.
People with arthritis can benefit from injections of hyaluronic acid, and this is reasonably common in medicine. Supplements containing this ingredient are also used in treating joint pain, osteopenia, osteoarthritis, chronic pain, fibromyalgia, insomnia and urinary tract infections.
How Should I Use Hyaluronic Acid?
Hyaluronic acid is best applied on a regular basis, preferably daily. You can use it up to two times a day for safe and optimal results. Hyaluronic acid and products containing it should be put on clean and damp skin.
It needs to be applied directly to the skin in order to reap the benefits. If you apply it on top of sunscreen, moisturiser or any other product, the hyaluronic acid won’t be able to access the skin and deliver its benefits.
It’s also important to remember that hyaluronic acid is highly effective in absorbing and delivering moisture to the skin, but it is not a moisturiser in itself.
It works best as a team player and so should be applied along with a moisturiser, lotion or cream. After application, apply moisturiser or night cream on top to lock in the hyaluronic acid and get the maximum benefits.
If taking a hyaluronic supplement, you can commonly find these as tablets, capsules or softgels, as well as liquid formulations. Check the manufacturer’s recommended dosage, which is usually no more than 1000 mg per day.
If you have any doubts or if you are taking other medications or have any other health condition, check with your doctor as to the dosage you should be taking. Side Effects of Hyaluronic Acid
Hyaluronic has few recorded side effects and is generally very safe to use as a topical application or a supplement. This is unsurprising considering that it is naturally found in the body.
It is worth being careful, however, because some kinds of hyaluronic acid, specifically those with lower molecular weights, can penetrate deeper into the skin and may cause inflammation. If you notice any dryness or irritation when using hyaluronic acid, stop using it and consult with your doctor or dermatologist.