Sorry Skin: My Experience with Hyaluronic Acid Serum
Hannah Kowalczyk-Harper
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Seems like a lot of hype, doesn’t it?! Hyaluronate/Hyaluronan/Hyaluronic acid is great as an injectable filler, where the insult of it will cause the some increase of collagen, but as for use as a serum or an additive to a cream, the polysaccharide HA molecule is huge and simply cannot cross the dermal layer to do anything. It attracts multiple times its weight in water, which may explain why someone’s skin may feel more smooth when they use HA skin creams that have all sorts of other emollients and vitamins etc etc. the problem is that these other ingredients don’t increase the skin’s permeability. As an humectant, HA MAY draw moisture to the skin, but as you found out, a higher concentration of HA in a well regarded brand such as the one you used, might just be too much in the circumstances of the place you live or the air quality. So, it has a paradoxical effect.

You mentioned that it dried your skin. That’s pretty common, particularly in hotter and drier climates, or dry house air in the winter time. The molecule cannot draw moisture from the environment, so it sucks it out of your skin. HA is in your skin and lubricates your joints (it’s also what plumps up the skin of Shar Pei). So, it sort of explains why I’m a bit crispy at the same time as I’m creaky without intervention. I just have to moisturize.

I used to mix up my own concoctions from active ingredients sold by a company called Skin Actives Sciences. A good company with pure ingredients, they can help you build a serum or cream that will do what you need it to. Having had filler injections, I purchased pure hyaluronic acid and added the recommended amount to a cream I loved, sort of to amp it up. It draws water, alright! Just as the SAS site noted, it seriously waters down anything you add it to. Soupy. And it didn’t really help.

I know my skin has lost volume, has developed fine lines and is sensitive. I have very dry skin too. Since I’m a skin product freak since I tried La Prairie like 30 years ago (WAY too expensive but smells good…loved it until I decided it was silly to spend a car payment or more on a jar of cream), I’m always looking for something with good research and results. Back then, my reaction to using something that nourished my skin over night (a La Prairie caviar cream sample), and upon waking and looking in the mirror was “holy shit — it works!). I was hooked. And in the 1970's I thought the original Oil of Olay was amazing.

I know I have to repair my skin and stay out of the sun. I know that I need to use a dermal repair supplement that brings the vitamins into my system directly, I know that there are things like essential fatty acids like jojoba, tea tree oil, cranberry oil, argan oil, and combinations of bean extracts (Blithe Vital Treatment…inexpensive Korean product), and products using growth factors like keratinocyte growth factor and epidermal growth factor to help cell turnover that are really nourishing for the skin. Plant stem cell products have been really good to me for moisturizing. Beverly Hills MD has a very good skin line…using most of their products now specifically because I can talk/write to the plastic surgeon docs that research and develop their line and get answers. Just be careful that you don’t get onto an auto-ship program unless you like their stuff. Their customer service staff will cancel such orders and readily give refunds. I use the stuff, so I do use the auto-ship because of the substantial savings. It’s not pricy Neo-Cutis but it all works quite well.

You’re a blogger, right? If you’re into trying and writing about usual cutting edge products, go to the Indigogo website and look for the “Kintaro Cells” campaign. They have a main program that is growing what are called pluripotential mesenchymal (connective tissue) stem cells for treatment of various diseases like MS, brain and neurological disorders, diabetes, skin conditions, joint problems and other serious diseases. The stem cells they grow are infused by IV into their patients. Not the sort of thing that medical insurance covers. That sort of sucks. Apparently it does amazing things for skin from the inside out.

Their crowd funding campaign brings rewards of a serum to it’s contributors. The stem cells I mentioned above are grown in a liquid growth medium, as most research cell study programs are. Stem cells being stem cells, and human research mesenchymal stem cells, having the potential to differentiate into other kinds of cells, are harvested from bone marrow, umbilical cords fat cells — even dental pulp, among others. (NOT embryos). When they are infused by IV, they travel to sick organs or systems and will develop into skin, neurological, liver or pancreas cells, for new blood vessels, and decrease t-cell production, helping the immune system. They keep existing cells from apoptosis (cell death). As we get older (over 25–30), a number of factors including your genes cause increase cell death, mutation of genes, and decrease of blood flow to skin and other organs.

The cells, as they are grown, secrete all of the great stuff they use to help the damaged organs or systems more or less regenerate, into that liquid. Scientists being nut jobs sometimes, experiment with their products on themselves. Since the cell products like growth factors, cytokines, and other important products that are regenerative to skin — all the really important and good stuff stem cells produce are left behind after cells are harvested, Kintaro decided to see what the effect of the used cell culture media might be on skin.

Apparently, according to the literature, the results are quite impressive. It has a very regenerative effect on the skin. Improved tone, fullness, moisture, etc etc…young skin without the acne, lol. So this fairly new and industrious company in Tokyo is bottling the stuff as a serum. They’re crowd funding to develop fancier bottles. I have ordered it after talking to a couple of their reps, who have directed me to sound, peer reviewed research. Calling the media that has gone to waste is a way of funding their stem cell treatment development R and D.

It is probably less expensive than products you or I have used. Skinceuticals can be a pricy brand.

I know this was a stupid-long answer to your question, but if you can find products in the market that just “improve the ‘appearance’ of lines, wrinkles and dry skin, the products have not cured those problems. I want something, if available, that makes my own cells solve those problems and improves them. “Improving appearance” translates to “the customer will think they look and feel better but the underlying problem is not corrected.”

So that’s the direction in which I’m headed. I’m a former cell biology, genetics and endocrinology researcher and I spent time during a couple advanced degrees developing cell culture methods that collected the media to test what the cells were doing.

So I plan to try the stuff or add it to my daily serums to improve my skin at the cellular and genetic level. If you want, you can mention that I referred you. I don’t get anything out of it. I just want them to know I’m spreading the word.

Frankly, drinking WAY more alkaline water has done a lot more than any HA product for me, as well as getting adequate sleep, taking vitamins and supplements that repair my skin and connective tissue.

Waaaaay too long a response, but you asked. Hopefully some of this is helpful.

Take care!

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