Hyaluronic acid has been a buzz word in the skincare world for quite a few years now. It is a well-deserved buzz though. Hyaluronic acid works! Not only that but it’s easy to incorporate into your routine and it suits pretty much everyone, so there are no excuses not to use it.
First of all, yes, it is an acid but not as you probably understand an acid. Unlike glycolic acid, lactic acid or salicylic acid that exfoliate the skin, it does not have these kinds of properties. It’s a humectant – this fancy term means that it attracts water or moisture. When we use it in skincare it gets into the upper layers of our epidermis. Inside our skin it attracts moisture to itself and so brings hydration into the upper layers of our skin and most importantly gives our skin that plumped and youthful look.
Hyaluronic acid is naturally produced in our bodies and is most abundant in our skin. It’s involved in hydration, lubrication of our joints and is an important part of the wound healing process. It’s not the case that our bodies stop producing hyaluronic acid as we get older but rather, we have less hyaluronic acid in the upper layers of our skin. Additionally, as we age there is a reduction in size of the hyaluronic acid molecule we produce. So unfortunately, there is less of this wonderful moisture creating molecule available in our top layer of skin. Topical application of hyaluronic acid in skincare won’t replenish our natural stores but it will put hyaluronic acid into the upper layers of our skin where it can really make a difference to the look and feel of our skin.
Not All Hyaluronic Acid Is Equal!
There are many types available in skincare.
If you see hyaluronic acid listed in an ingredient list you are getting the larger molecular weight hyaluronic acid – it won’t penetrate as deeply but it will sit at the very top layer of your epidermis keeping it hydrated there.
If you see sodium hyaluronate on a label then you are getting a lower molecular weight hyaluronic acid , it has been chopped into smaller fragments. This means it can penetrate a little deeper into the skin, hydrating deeper layers of the epidermis and providing deeper hydration.
Sodium hyaluronate crosspolymer is a crosslinked hyaluronic acid – hyaluronic acid pieces are chemically bound together to create a big mesh, it has even better water binding ability, and gives a long-lasting effect and is more resistant to hyaluronidase the enzyme that breaks down hyaluronic acid.
These are just some of the most popular versions of hyaluronic acid you will see in skincare products. There are even more types available and they can come in various combinations within products, for example 4D hyaluronic acid! Some brands are getting wonderfully innovative in the use of various hyaluronic acid together so check those ingredients lists, to understand exactly what kind of hyaluronic acid you are getting in your skincare.
Also, if you are vegan you don’t need to be concerned about the source of hyaluronic acid. Previously it was extracted from rooster combs but today it pretty much all comes from a bio fermentation process – for example wheat is fermented with lactic acid bacteria, hyaluronic acid is produced, collected, purified and dehydrated into a powder ready to be used – thank you again to those helpful bacteria!
So how do you get this wonder material into your routine? Hyaluronic acid is so popular and widespread that it is in almost all moisturisers now. However, at Skin Trust Club we think hyaluronic acid is so important to your skin that you should add a concentrated hyaluronic acid product to your routine. This is especially important during the winter months but hyaluronic acid should be used all year around if you have dry skin. Use it after your cleanser in the morning on damp skin just before your moisturiser. And at night use it again just after your cleansing step and before your treatments and night cream. A light gel-based serum or a spritz is the best format for getting it into your routine.
If you are not sure what skin type you have, why not sign up for a Skin Trust Club plan. You can book recurring skin microbiome tests, learn more about the changes in your skin and receive tailored suggestions for your skincare routine. It takes the guesswork out of creating the best routine for your specific skin type.