Hyaluronic acid (Hi-a-loo-ron-ick acid) or HA is a naturally occurring sugar molecule produced by our skin cells. It’s literally a part of the framework that structures our skin, called the extracellular matrix. It occurs naturally in most of the connective tissues in our bodies. Why do we need to apply it if our skin produces it naturally? Well, unfortunately HA, like collagen, depletes as we get older which means that out skin dries out and wrinkles more easily.
Hyaluronic acid (HA) is not an exfoliating acid at all. The name comes from the enzyme that synthesises HA called “hyaluronic acid synthase”. It does not resurface the skin but attracts and retains moisture. Usually in a gel serum format, the molecules can retain up to a thousand times it’s own weight in water which is why it is so great at improving the skin’s hydration.
The HA that you buy in serum format is usually produced from bio fermentation of wheat stalks. A very specific bacteria is added to the wheat stalks, it is then allowed to ferment. The end product is purified and precipitated (extracted). It can also be made of senna fruit, sugar beet or beetroot.
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What does Hyaluronic Acid do for my skin?
- It is a humectant, which means that it attracts moisture from the atmosphere to your skin and keeps it hydrated.
- It helps skin cells to retain moisture for longer which reduces the appearance and formation of fine lines and wrinkles.
- It keeps the skin looking radiant and dewy. Hydrated skin is always more soft and smooth.
- It works with all skin types including oily or very sensitive skin.
- It supports collagen production to keep skin firmer for longer.
- It has antibacterial properties and acts like an anti-inflammatory which makes it great for acne prone skin.
- It improves the texture and tone of the skin.
Who needs Hyaluronic Acid?
- If you suffer from dry skin: HA will help skin to retain moisture for longer and balance oil production.
- If you are “of a certain age”: Older skin doesn’t retain moisture very well and is less elastic as a result. HA also depletes as we get older. It will help to retain moisture and smooth fine lines and wrinkles.
- If you live in a harsh environment: Very dry or hot conditions can dehydrate the skin and exposure to the sun can cause UV damage. HA helps to protect the skin from harsh conditions and free radical damage.
- If you have dehydrated skin: Dehydrated skin is different from dry skin. Dry skin has a lack of oils or lipids and is a skin type, dehydrated skin is when there is a lack of moisture in the top layers of the skin. HA can help to attract and retain moisture in dehydrated skin.
- If you have sensitive skin: HA will provide moisture without irritating sensitive skin with chemicals.
- If you have oily skin: Ha supports the natural function of skin cells. It provides moisture without adding oils or pore clogging ingredients to the skin.
How to use Hyaluronic Acid for great skin:
- Creams and Serums: There are plenty of moisturisers and serums available that contain HA. If you apply a HA serum, be sure to seal it in with a moisturiser for optimum results. Serums should always be applied under heavier creams or oils.
- Injectables by a professional: HA can be injected into sunken or wrinkled areas for a plumping effect. This should always be done by a professional.
- As a dietary supplement: HA can be taken in tablet form as a dietary supplement. In addition to keeping skin supple and smooth it can also help with wound healing, preventing joint pain by keeping connective tissues supple, insomnia and fatigue. Some people say it works wonders, others aren’t so sure.
- In your diet: What you eat can also support the production of Hyaluronic acid.
- Soy products: Tofu, edamame and tempeh contain oestrogen that supports the production of HA in the body.
- Bone broth: By boiling good quality, grass fed beef bones for hours to make bone broth will release Hyaluronic acid.
- Starchy root vegetables: increase the production of HA in the body. Eat things like sweet potato and artichoke as well as potato.
- Leafy green vegetables: Kale especially contains magnesium that supports the production of HA. You can also get magnesium from Avocado, nuts and seeds.
- Citrus Fruits: Oranges, satsumas and grapefruit contain naringenin which inhibits the breakdown of HA in the body. Tomato and banana help as well.
- Red meat: Organ meats like liver and kidneys are high in Hyaluronic acid.
- Almonds and cashews: Full of skin supporting protein, vitamin E, healthy fats and HA.
What to look for when you buy Hyaluronic Acid
First off, let me tell you what NOT to bother with. Hyaluronic acid has to stay ON your skin for it to work. Scrubs and cleansers that contain HA are a waste of money. It doesn’t stay on your skin long enough to make a blind bit of difference. Stick with serums, lotions and creams. Even toners with Hyaluronic acid are fine but check if HA is actually higher up in the ingredient list.
When buying skincare products that contain HA, make sure that it is quite close to the top of the list of ingredients. If it is very far down on the list, there probably isn’t enough HA in the product to make a difference.
Hyaluronic acid can be listed under a few different names. You can look for Sodium Hyaluronate, hydrolised hyaluronic acid or sodium acetyl hyaluronate.
Ingredient lists also sometimes state whether the HA has a high or low molecular weight. The smaller molecules manage to penetrate further and plump the skin from within.
Sodium Hyluronate is a salt derivative HA with the same benefits as the product made from wheat and other vegetables. It has a reputation for being very easily absorbed.
Some Hyaluronic Acid Products that won’t break the bank!
Disclaimer: These are affiliate links.
The Ordinary’ Hyaluronic acid 2% + b5 30ml
Hydration support formula with ultra-pure, vegan hyaluronic acid
PurOrganica Hyaluronic Acid Face Serum – 60ml
PurOrganica’s Hyaluronic Acid Serums puts powerful natural ingredients to work for you all for a fresher, brighter complexion.
COMPATH Anti-Aging & Moisturizing Hyaluronic Acid Serum
with Natural Vitamin C, Vitamin E & Botanical Hyaluronic Acid
SatinNaturel ORGANIC Hyaluronic Acid Serum Concentrate 100ml
High-Dosed, Vegan Anti-Ageing Gel
VEGAVERO® Hyaluronic Acid Capsules 100% PLANT-BASED
Especially High Dose with 425mg, Ideal Molecule Size 800 – 1500 kDa, Vegan, Without Additives, Laboratory Tested, Made in Germany, 60 Capsules
Transforme Hyaluronic Acid Capsules 100mg
120 Count, Vegetarian, Vegan, All Natural Supplement, Gluten Free, 4 Month Supply
So, there you go then. Hyaluronic acid. Now, there are some companies that used HA derived from chicken’s combs and cartilage but it’s mostly from botanical sources these days. Look for plant based or vegan formulations.